It came in mighty handy for Shea Holbrook to have her karmic pool filled to the brim last weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida. Shea, now in her second season of professional racing with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pro Racing World Challenge Series, redefined what it means to have fan support. For years now Shea has used her high visibility racing profile to tirelessly support charitable causes close to her heart, such as the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. So, when she needed a little help from her friends and fans, it flowed back to her in an overwhelming fashion.
Shea Racing's No.67 Honda Civic Si, K&N Filters, Lucas Oil car is expected to be back running in time for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo by Kamran Malik.
Shea Holbrook's biggest fans, the Gilbert girls, Erica, Lacie, Alyee and Rhea.
In race one Shea had a terrific start, moving from thirteenth to eleventh by the first turn. Then a few laps later she made another great move in turn one, passing two cars and rolling into seventh place. That same lap though she got caught up in a wreck, a big wreck, which ended her race. Way too much front damage to her car, it looked as though there was no way she would be getting back on the track.
"I thought of something really out of left field, and completely out of my character," said Shea. "I hustled walking the paddock, making phone calls, and posting on Facebook and Twitter asking for help! Still, at this point we were not racing. Phone calls were taking too long and things all of a sudden became very complicated. Nick Chorley, a Shea Racing crew member and I were walking the paddock thinking, and the idea of fan support all of a sudden dawned on me. I figured, this is my home race, and we have some of the best Shea Racing fans here in St. Petersburg."
Shea was passing cars in bunches and running in seventh place in the first race at St. Pete before a wreck ended her race. Photo by Michael Ball.
Shea and her team owner dad, Jeff, came up with the idea of running with the Compass 360 Racing team because they knew they had a spare car, but not just any racecar, a Honda Civic Si, much like the one she was accustomed to driving. With that she could be in a position to finish in the top-ten and in the points.
"I was confident in my driving ability and also the cars. Thinking out-of-the-racecar really came about when we needed to find funds to actually get into this car," remarked Shea.
To get back on the race track Shea needed funding to continue in round two of the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Starting the season off without earning any points just wasn't an option for her.
"Last year I met wonderful fans that continue to follow and support our racing and charity efforts. One family in particular stood out, the Gilberts. I remember meeting all four Gilbert girls vividly. There they were again this year, just like they told me they would be. We exchanged hugs and I checked in with them after every session. They're down-home, good people. When the idea of fan support came about I immediately thought of the Gilbert Girls. I found Mr. Gilbert and nervously asked a question no driver wants to ask, and it went a little something like this… 'I have the opportunity to get back into the seat, but I do not have the funding to do so, so I'm turning to fans for help to have the race of my life. Can you help?'"
"Mr. Gilbert smiled and gave me a hug and said, 'Can you put Gilbert Girls on the side of the car?' And so we went racing. It just so happens that one of our partners is a graphics company. I called up VisionX Graphics and they had someone in the shop making a vinyl immediately."
"Both races were unbelievable," continued Shea. "We had great launches at the start of both races and were able to gain positions. The most important thing to remember when racing on streets courses is, hit your marks, and race intelligently. We had great communication over the radio and stoppers were very beneficial."
"I'm not going to lie, all I was thinking about in race two was bringing that car back in one piece. I couldn't believe how comfortable I felt in a car I'd never raced. Once I took her around one lap I felt at home again. So yes, I felt a lot of pressure to bring that car back untouched. But our new No. 67 Honda Civic Si, K&N Filters, Lucas Oil, MYPLUGGZ.com and now Gilbert Girls was rockin' and nothing was stopping us!"
Shea started the second race in sixteenth and worked her way into an eighth place finish. Currently she's preparing herself for a run at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17, which rocks through the streets of Long Beach, California.
"Oh yes, our thought process has changed for Long Beach," said Shea. "There's a chance we'll get our Honda back on track, but we're preparing and speaking with a few Honda teams as well. We're excited about Long Beach and ready for podium finishes powered by K&N filters and Lucas Oil!"
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