With an unconventional start and serious focus, Shea Holbrook is a driver to watch.
Shea was born into a water skiing family. She traveled with her parents competing in events and ranking nationally, and she thought her future would be on the water. She’d never dreamed it would lead her to competing in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series sanctioned by International Motor Sports Association.
It started when she had the chance to ride shotgun around the track at Daytona International Speedway and all that changed. Racing had a different set of rules but making the transition was easy: racing has no age bracket or gender specific league to compete in, as there is in waterskiing. But it does pair the skier, the boat and the driver on a singular mission. Waterskiing had given her the athletic prerequisites that would help propel her into a career in motor sports.
The First Taste of Speed Kick Started it All
Her first experience in motorsports was a NASCAR experience – the Richard Petty experience when she was fifteen, and she describes it as life changing. While she already felt privileged in her life and the experiences she had been given to that point, riding shot gun changed her goals and her trajectory.
Feeling the G-forces and the limited sight view, the aggression needed, the car felt like it was an extension of her. Shea felt the experience gave her an out of body experience more than she had ever felt water skiing, even competitively as a number one ranked jump skier.
After her first experience she had told her father she wanted to race, it was fun.
Her father already urging her in that direction because of his own interests in the sport. Together they worked on a plan to get into motor racing,
And how to break the news to her mother.
It took some convincing on the safety of the sport, but shortly after they started to do high-performance events together. They purchased their first car online, a 1998 Acura Integra that was gutted and a roll cage already included.
Starting from Behind and Pushing to the Front
Going into the sport – Shea describes herself as starting at six feet under. She didn’t come from a family with a wealth or a legacy in the sports that passes it down. She didn’t have the knowledge base, beyond knowing who Jeff Gordon was and what NASCAR is.
Early on she knew that being a girl in the field was going to be a focus for a lot of her competitors. Her gender alone would put her under the microscope, so it pushed her to do everything ten times over everyone else.
Because she was a woman in the sport she knew she would be the topic of discussion. If she won, she was on a pedestal, if she was mediocre she was bad and if she lost – she was the worst ever.
Mentors Helped Drive Her on the Track and in the Classroom
Early on Shea had the help of mentors Jody DeVere and Lyn St. James. She gravitated to fellow women in the sport. She had planned to go to college for mechanical engineering but was advised she would be taught the skills she needed through the car being the extension of her and having engineers around her. She needed to be engineer-minded but also trust her team.
Instead, they pointed her to communications and marketing to start building her business. Shea graduated from University of Central Florida in 2012.
Shea Racing Takes the Passion From a Single Racer to a Multi Car Team
Shea’s first professional race was the Grand Prix at St. Petersburg in 2010. The street race course threw challenges at her she hadn’t experienced before. Her ambition to succeed as a racer and the ambassador for her brand was her main motivation at that point. She was still working on the learning curve of her career.
At the very beginning, Shea noticed that her company was a marketing brand, not just a racing company and was able to secure sponsorship from brands to help fun her races.
The company also uses the advertising dollars to reach a loyal fan base and to get their message out.
This was the point that Shea Racing became a marketing business and a team-based company. The idea for a multi-car team and other drivers was started and the road to a larger company was paved.
A Family Driven Business
Working together has always been something the Holbrook family has done for years, and Shea Racing is no different. From hand building cars to management and marketing, the company is owned by Shea and both of her parents, and the family expanded just a bit last year when Shea married Nicholas Chorley, her team manager.
— Shea Holbrook (@SheaRacing) December 31, 2017
Their focus has been on the same class of cars since they started and they’ve mastered the art of creating those cars for the sport. They do rely on professionals for portions of their builds, including the cage of the cars. The focus on safety and the flex on the roll cage of the car is important. Not only can the cage limit your performance if not done properly, but it plays an important part in driver safety. This and every factor from transportation, logistics, and marketing is handled in the company.
What Drives Shea? Racing to the Top
Besides having a passion for the sport, Honda Racing was critical to Shea’s success; the brand’s support through her early years gave her the ability to prove her talents and build a team. This support also allowed her be a part of the team that helped to make final adjustments to the Honda Civic SI before it went on the market for consumers.
And just last year, Shea began to drive in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series. This spring she was asked to join Precision Performance Motorsports for the full season, teaming with driver Martin Barkey to drive a Lamborghini Huracan Evo in the race series. Shea brings the same determination, skills, strength, and ambition she learned as a child athlete into the series. And with each race, a new passion.
Shea says she still feels like the girl “going for her dreams” and the road is open for her to achieve them.