Pippa Mann, Ashley Freiberg and Shea Holbrook will lead an all-female driver lineup in the USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The trio, with additional amateur drivers to be determined, will pilot a 1989 Consulier entered by Shift Up Now, an organization whose goal is 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 Shift Up Now founder, businesswoman and racer Lynn 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.”
Thunderhill will mark Mann’s endurance racing debut. She began racing sports cars in 2017, joining 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,” Mann said.
“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.”
In January, Freiberg and teammate Gosia Rest became the first all-female team to compete in the Grand Sport class at the season-opening Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race in Daytona, finishing 19th overall for GMG Racing. She became the first woman to win an overall race at Daytona and in the CTSC when she and co-driver Shelby Blackstock won the race in 2014.
“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,” Freiberg said. “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.”
Holbrook, who recently set a Guinness World Record with Denise Mueller-Korenek for the fastest bicycle ride over open ground (183.9mph), said motorsports is one of the few sports where men and women can compete equally.
“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,” she explained. “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 20th anniversary edition of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill is set for Nov. 30-Dec. 2.