Monday, 29 February 2016

Shea Holbrook

Shea on the podium in 2015

Shea Holbrook races in the Pirelli World Challenge in the USA.

Despite not coming from a motorsport family, she began racing in earnest in 2008, at 18, in a Mazda Miata (MX-5), entering some rounds of the East Coast Teen Mazda Challenge, with a best finish of third, at Road Atlanta. 2008 was a busy year for her, with runs in Late Model stock cars, the Skip Barber series, NASA, FARA and SCCA races. At the end of the year, she received a scholarship from the Lyn St. James Driver Development Academy.

Her first experience of motorsport had come two years earlier, when she took a high-speed ride at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Between then and 2008, she did some junior pick-up racing in FASCAR, and initially, competed in autocross.

2009 was quite a similar year to 2008, although a little less busy. She raced a Miata and a Honda Civic in SCCA competitions, and won the Central Florida Class H1 championship. She also did a little more single-seater racing in the Skip Barber Formula.

In 2010, she raced in the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge, the club-level version of the Pirelli World Challenge, where she was fast from the beginning: two sixth places in her first races as a professional driver, at St. Petersburg. Her best finish was fifth, at Toronto, and she was sixth in the championship.

She stepped up to the Pirelli World Challenge in 2011, driving a Honda Civic. Very soon, she was on the pace, and she picked up her first Touring Car class win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Although her short season meant that she was unable to challenge for overall honours, she received Sunoco Hard Charger Award and the Optima Batteries award for the best standing start.

In 2012, she had her second season in the series. She scored two podium finishes, driving a Honda Civic Si. Her consistent finishing was enough to give her fourth in a competitive championship. That year, she also set up her own team, Shea Racing, with her father, Jeff.

In 2013, she competed in Class B of the Pirelli World Challenge, in a Honda Civic. It was a slightly challenging season, and she had a best result of fourth in class, at Lime Rock. At the end, she was seventh overall. Whilst the on-track side of her career was on one of its steeper learning curves this year, her Shea Racing team was flying. It had now expanded into a multi-car team, with two regular drivers, Shea and PJ Groenke, and another guest driver.

In 2014, she moved into the TCA class, with the Civic, a move which paid off. She won her class five times, at Barber, New Jersey, Road America and Mid-Ohio, and finished on the podium in ten out of thirteen races. Her lowest final position of the year was fifth. She was runner-up at the end of the season.

Her 2015 season in the Pirelli series started well enough, with two thirds and a fifth at Circuit of the Americas, but she dropped out after a no-show at the next meeting, at Mosport. She spent the rest of the season preparing for, and competing, in jet dragster races. The car is run by the Florida Institute of Technology, and Shea won at least one IHRA title.

In 2016, she returned to the Pirelli World Challenge, with a new set of sponsors and a new Honda Accord. She just missed out on a podium position, with a best finish of fourth, at Circuit of the Americas, although her consistent top-ten finishes left her fifth in the championship. 

At the end of the season, she was made a Development Driver for Honda Racing, and took part in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill for the team.

Shea's Pirelli World Challenge season in 2017 was almost two separate seasons. She began the year in the TC class in the Accord, but struggled for pace and could not finish higher than 16th. A move back to the Civic and the TCA class in August was rewarded with a win, She was ninth overall at the end of the season.

As well as touring cars, she tried sportscars for the first time in 2017. She drove a Lamborghini Huracan in four rounds of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo USA, with multiple Indy 500 racer Pippa Mann. They scored three fourth places and were sixth in the Am class. 

Shea did not get out on the circuits much in 2018, but she did enter the Lamborghini Trofeo World Finals at Vallelunga. She was seventh and fifth in her first European races.

She did make the news when she helped Denise Mueller-Korenek to set a world record for motor-paced cycling at Bonneville Salt Flats. Denise cycled in the slipstream of a dragster, driven by Shea, reaching a speed of almost 184mph.

Shea is also a multiple championship-winning water-skier, and has stated that if she was not a racing driver, she would like to be a fighter pilot. She has used her public profile to raise money and awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease which affects her family.

(Image from

1 comment:

  1. you deserve awards and lots of money for the work you put into this awesome blog. learned a lot about the female drivers i would see in races