HPD Blog

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shea Holbrook Makes History at Long Beach

Florida-based Honda racer Shea Holbrook rewrote the SCCA World Challenge record book during its recent Long Beach round, becoming only the second woman in series history – and the first in the Touring Class – to win a World Challenge race in the 22-year history of the production-based racing series.

Driving her #67 Lucas Oil/Shea Racing Honda Civic Si, Holbrook’s victory capped a dramatic month for the 21-year-old University of Central Florida student, who was piloting her third different Honda in as many races.

After her own Civic sustained significant damage in the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Holbrook utilized a back-up Honda from Compass360 Racing in the second St. Pete race. She drove a Peterson Racing Civic Si to her Long Beach victory.

The drama continued following the checkered flag on Sunday. Holbrook had finished second on the track to Rafael Navarro, already the best finish of her short, two-year professional racing career.

But Navarro’s Volkswagen was found to be non-compliant in post-race technical inspection, handing the win to an initially disbelieving Holbrook.

“I officially found out around 6:30 p.m.,” Holbrook said. “It was unfortunate for Navarro, who also just experienced an emotional rollercoaster. It was an odd feeling because I experienced it differently. At first I literally thought, ‘Okay…’ but when the official looked me in the eye and said, ‘Shea, you won the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Not many people can say that,’ everything changed. It went from a high to an ultimate high. I was living what I had dreamt about over the past five years.”

Holbrook also becomes the third-youngest woman to win a race at Long Beach, trailing Simona de Silvestro’s win in the Atlantic Championship at the age of 19 in 2008 and Danica Patrick’s Pro/Celebrity race win at the age of 20 in 2002.

Qualifying seventh in the Touring Car class, Holbrook managed to avoid a number of issues that eliminated other drivers at the 11-turn, 1.968-mile California street circuit. Three Touring Cars came together just after the start, ending the day for pole qualifier Lawson Aschenbach’s Compass360 Honda Civic.

Holbrook had moved to third after the opening lap, and fell to fourth on Lap Two after being passed by Navarro, but she was back in a podium position again on Lap 10 after passing Eric Meyer”s Mazda RX-8. Holbrook moved past Devin Cates’ Volkswagen GTI on Lap 15 and had only Navarro’s Touring Car ahead of her at the checkers.

“This race win means so much to so many people that are a part of Shea Racing,” Holbrook said, “but this first race win is dedicated to my cousin Matthew, who passed away in 2008 from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Being an advocate for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy has become a huge and life-changing part of my life.”

Holbrook’s racing career has been used to raise funds and awareness for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a charity seeking a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Using donations from fans and corporate partners both at and away from the track, Holbrook and Shea Racing have raised more than $20,000 in a little more than a season in World Challenge.

Round Four of the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge Championship is scheduled for May 29-30 at Miller Motorsports Park, with Holbrook third in the drivers’ championship. Holbrook has 252 points, trailing fellow Honda racer Aschenbach (367) and Cates (278). Holbrook’s win also boosted Honda to a three-point lead over Volkswagen in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

The Long Beach Grand Prix World Challenge event will be televised on VERSUS, April 30, at 2:30 p.m. EDT.


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