ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – This December, Shift Up Now will enter the USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill with an all-female driver lineup.
Professional sports car drivers Ashley Freiberg, Shea Holbrook, and Pippa Mann will pilot a 1989 Consulier, with additional amateur drivers to be determined at a later date.
Led by businesswoman and racer Lynn Kehoe, Shift Up Now is an organization dedicated to using motorsports to inspire girls and women to break traditional gender stereotypes as they pursue their dreams.
“We have to change the actions and conversations that keeps girls and women from fully embracing their confidence and courage,” said Kehoe. “The Shift Up Now team is using motorsports to do that and we are extremely proud to see the backing we’re getting. The incredible amount of encouragement and support for the mission of Shift Up Now is very affirming as we work hard to put together our Drive to the 25.”
Having all worked together on previous programs, the three professional drivers and Shift Up Now amateurs will create the perfect combination of diverse backgrounds to put forth a strong effort at the endurance event.
Freiberg began her motorsports journey racing go-karts at age 11, and quickly progressed to racing cars seven years later with a WKA national title under her belt. In 2009, she became the first female in history to finish on the BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series podium, and the following season clinched two Skip Barber Series championships, also becoming the first woman to win an MX-5 Cup race in the series.
Four years later, Freiberg shifted her career to sports car racing, and became the first woman to win an overall race at Daytona Int’l Speedway when she and co-driver Shelby Blackstock clinched victory in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race.
While this year will be her first attempt at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Freiberg has solid results in endurance racing, having finished second at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, one of the most demanding in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to compete in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, and to do it with an all-women line-up is even more exciting,” said Freiberg. “I love everything that Shift Up Now stands for; I’ve always been a supporter of getting more women involved in racing through my own career including being a part of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission.
“Giving more women the opportunities to succeed in all forms of motorsport, whether you are an engineer, mechanic, driver, or in marketing and business, is always something I love to encourage and be a part of.”
Like her two professional co-drivers, Holbrook holds her own diverse resume of experience, most recently teaming up with Denise Mueller-Korenek to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest bicycle ride over open ground, at 183.9 miles per hour.
After becoming a nationally-ranked competitive water skier, Holbrook was introduced to motorsports at the age of sixteen and has since built an impressive career covering all areas of the sport. She began racing professionally in 2010, and in her second year of action became the first female to win a Touring Car race at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Despite a late career start, Holbrook made a quick name for herself in the Pirelli World Challenge and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, becoming a race winning contender in the paddock. Utilizing her degree in communications and marketing, the 28-year old is also an entrepreneur and spokeswoman, using her own success to inspire others as her motorsports career continues to advance.
“Motorsports is a great equalizer and one of the few sports where men and women can have the opportunity to compete equally,” said Holbrook. “There are so many other variables like, engineering, your crew, the race car, the finances and so forth that is critical to your overall success. It’s important to showcase a strong female team because it would set a great example of the ultimate equalizer. Through racing I’ve learned tenacity and feel like I can do and be successful at anything that comes my way. That’s the message we should be teaching young women. Let’s just go race, and win.”
The 2018 25 Hours of Thunderhill will be Mann’s debut performance in sports car endurance racing. Mann grew up racing go-karts and open wheel cars in Europe before coming to the United States to compete in the Indy Lights championship, with hopes of advancing to IndyCar.
In 2010, Mann became the first female driver to win a pole position at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and one of only two female drivers to win an Indy Lights race. In 2011, Mann qualified for her first Indianapolis 500, becoming the eighth woman in history to compete in the event.
She stepped into sports car racing in 2017, joining 25 Hour teammate Holbrook for another all-female effort in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.
“I am thrilled to be one of the drivers for the Shift Up Now effort at Thunderhill, and I’m so excited to share the car with other female racers, including two friends of mine, Ashley and Shea,” said Mann. “I have been searching for an opportunity to compete in my first sports car endurance race for several years, and to have the chance to do this with an organization that mirrors my own beliefs and dreams in terms of empowering women, and alongside such a kick-ass driving team, is pretty much a dream come true.”