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The Unusual Rise of Shea Holbrook to the Front of World Challenge Touring Grids

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Shea is regarded as a tough competitor and is not known to give up ground easily.

Shea is regarded as a tough competitor and is not known to give up ground easily.

Few of us can point to the exact moment when our life turned around 180 degrees. And even fewer of us have had it happen in the passenger seat of a car someone else was driving. But that’s exactly what happened to 15 year old Shea Holbrook.

Moving into the top-level Touring Class of World Challenge has suited Shea well.

Moving into the top-level Touring Class of World Challenge has suited Shea well.

A promising young competitive water skier in her native state of Florida, she was given a ride in one of the Richard Petty Experience Sprint Cup replicas around Daytona International Speedway by a program instructor. Before she had even unbelted herself from the car in pit lane, Shea knew she that wanted to become a professional race car driver.

The move from water skiing to auto racing isn’t as unlikely a move as you might think. Both emphasize control at speed, optimizing weight transfer, and controlling the interface between the ski and water or four tires and asphalt.

All of the vehicles in this photo has a K&N air filter on it and most have oil filters too. Shea even runs K&N fuel filters on her race rig.

All of the vehicles in this photo has a K&N air filter on it and most have oil filters too. Shea even runs K&N fuel filters on her race rig.

So with the help of her parents, together they built her first race car in the family garage, and in 2009 had won the Central Florida Class H1 championship. In 2010, she went into the SCCA World Challenge series where she finished sixth. In 2011, Shea won the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, only the second female driver to win a World Challenge Touring Car race.

For 2012, not only did she record her best finish in World Challenge (fourth), but she began to attract the attention of the media. Shea was made a member of the all-female TRUECar Racing Women Empowered Initiative, while Honda Canada made her the star of one of its TV commercials. She was even featured in an article in Teen Vogue, sharing with young women the infinite possibilities open to them.

Shea Racing wears its K&N logo with pride, using the company’s products on its race cars and tow vehicles.

Shea Racing wears its K&N logo with pride, using the company’s products on its race cars and tow vehicles.

In 2013, Shea finished seventh in the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B class, and then moved to the faster A class for 2014, when she finished second overall. She was also the subject of a national TV commercial for sponsor TRUECar.

For 2015, Shea was forced to operate on a shoestring as TRUECar had dropped their program prematurely. Despite the fact that she was only able to compete in four World Challenge TCA races, she still managing to record three top five finishes.

Shea Racing is returning full force, fill-time to the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Touring car championship -- the first time since 2012. The team is campaigning a pair of Honda Accords V6’s with Shea Holbrook, 6-time PWC winner s back into a Touring Car number 67 joined by the 2015 Trans Am TA3 “Rookie of the Year,” Jason Fichter in car number 7. Shea currently sits a very competitive third in points after eight of 19 races, and Shea Racing occupies third in the team championship, thanks in part to the seventh place in standings held down by Jason Fichter.

And while Shea Racing uses K&N oil and fuel filters on its tow rig, and K&N’s high performance oil filter on its race cars, it’s the K&N air intake about which Shea is most enthused “We use the K&N 69-1212TS Typhoon air intake which guarantees us an increase in power before we ever tune.” In fact, in K&N’s own chassis dyno tests, the installation of a 69-1212TS on an otherwise stock Honda Accord increased power by 7.43 horsepower.

Not surprising Shea is a K&N fan. That first high-speed ride was in a Petty Experience car equipped with a K&N air filter.


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K&N Engineering in Riverside California is the world's leading manufacturer of washable performance air filters and air intake systems. K&N invented the reusable high flow cotton air filter in 1969 and has been perfecting the technology ever since. K&N is a world class filtration company selling air filters, oil filters, and intakes in over 50 countries. K&N sells over 5,000 products designed for cars, trucks, motorcycles, engines, and industrial applications. From their Million Mile Warranty to their Consumer Protection Pledge, K&N stands behind their products and their consumers 100%. The distinctive K&N logo represents performance from one of the original performance companies. For more information, visit knfilters.com.