The dimunative USF2000 driver is an Ohio girl transplanted to Florida who jets here and there for magazine shoots, clandestine sponsor meetings and race car driving. Shannon wakes up "gregarious."
Now she's got a new sponsor (TrueCar.com), a new team (Pabst Racing) and a new level of schwerve as she enters her second season of USF2000 racing. Read what she had to say Thursday ..
Shannon: I couldn’t be happier to be driving for Pabst this year. I met Augie at the end of the season last year and really liked everyone on the team. I believe that Augie saw the passion and desire to succeed that I have and felt I would fit well with their team. As I began looking around for 2012, I wanted a team that was going to be 100% behind supporting the development of my open-wheel skills and enthusiastic about it. I needed a group where there would be chemistry and not to mention, an experienced and well-run operation. I have found everything I need at Pabst and feel like this year is going to show the driver that I really am.
pressodg: True Car. Did it come out of the blue or what? Give us a flavah of how that came together. What about that most stokes you up?
Shannon: My management (BRANDed) had been working on a program with TrueCar for a short period and the deal came together very quickly. It was surreal when they rolled out the TrueCar Racing Women Empowerment initiative, and I couldn’t be more excited and honored to be a part. I am most excited about this program because they are giving myself (and other ladies) the opportunity to REALLY do it right. They’ve not only given us the opportunity by way of sponsorship to race, but they want us to succeed and understand that it requires many components for success; team, coach, funding.
TrueCar is an unbelievably smart company; starting with their behind the scenes data/tech knowledge, to Scott Painter's ability to motivate and make things happen, to understanding motorsports and how powerful this Women Empowerment Initiative will be for not only all of us involved, but for the fans and onlookers as well.
pressdog: What are your goals/expectations for racing in 2012?
I have very high expectations and this comes in part due to how well the tests have gone with my new team. I expect to be very competitive this year and know that as I continue to develop my skills, I will be looking for top fives right away. It’s a very experienced and competitive field so I am excited to race with the best.
pressdog: Do you feel more confident and skilled as a road racer after a year of twisties? Are there still bad habits to unlearn etc.?
Shannon: Absolutely. I learned a lot from the bad of last year, which in turns sets me ahead going into year two. I am very confident in my knowledge of braking, shifting, aero and the way these cars need to be driven to be quick. Now is the time to continue to keep what I know in my head and put it to work on track. Knowing and understanding these concepts is one thing, but perfecting them and actually doing them well on track requires practice and experience.
pressdog: As an oval girl, what do most LIKE about road and street racing?
Shannon: I am very analytical and love to ‘think’. Road/street racing require a lot of real studying by way of data and video to get everything in sync; driving line, footwork, shifting, braking, input in steering wheel etc. I also was a gymnast when I was younger and the art of driving on road courses very much reminds me of the tumbling I did, which require athleticism and a precise mind.
pressdog: You do a lot of stuff off the track from your Pretty Amazing adventure to the TAG Heuer stuff, etc. Do you try to compartmentalize Sponsor Shannon from Racing Shannon? How do you manage the combination of racing and non-racing stuff?
Shannon: Yes. Actually, last year was a learning year in this department as well. I can honestly say I had a LOT on my plate last year and it was very hard to juggle it. I look at the sponsor stuff as the business side. Yes these opportunities are so much fun and great experiences, but also – they are what help me develop my brand, gain exposure and in turn give me the opportunity to race because they bring in more sponsorship. I do try to compartmentalize the different sides because my everyday personality is not really what I am when I am in a racecar. Someone once told my dad when I raced midgets; she looks and acts like a girl but drives like a boy. HA! At the beginning and end of the day, I am a racecar driver and that is the message I try to convey on all fronts.
pressdog: When we first met you were a nanny in Ohio, looking to get more rides in USAC. Now you're living in Florida, full-time racing focused. What are some of the biggest changes in your life? What are some of the constants?
Shannon: HA! Constants? Funny, it’s a common theme of struggling with lack of constants in my life. The biggest changes? Everything, and that includes the lack of fluidity. I am really, really living my dreams now and I don’t think we know what it will be like when all of our goals start to come to fruition. I have been in Florida for a little over a year now, and am really starting to feel at home, so that’s new. But the constants are definitely the support and love I have from my family. I would not be here, there or anywhere, without what I have in my family. Long distance or not, they help me get through the struggles and ups and downs that this industry throws me week in and week out. I have an amazing support system with my management (BRANDed) and that is a constant as well.
pressdog: How did you get your RoadFly TV gig? What do you find hard about that and what do you dig about it?
I met RoadFlyTV through Mazda at the Baltimore Grand Prix. I kept in touch with them and they so kindly asked me to host a few videos. HA! Jeesh, I find it very hard, and maybe it’s because I’m not good at it, yet. It’s hard because it’s a different type of “being in front of the camera”. I am not just talking about how the car was, how I feel about things I’m involved with or even talking about racing…I have to form opinions about cars and then convey them to people who might buy these cars…. almost 80,000 viewers so far. I like that I am getting to drive new cars!!!! I love driving different cars and am always learning something new through it.
pressdog: Did you ever think back in the midget USAC days with your dad that you'd be living large in Florida, on TV, fashion shoots, being interviewed and ... cherry on top ... a Woman of pressdog®?
Shannon: Am I living large in my 500 sq. ft. apartment in downtown St. Pete? Ha! St. Petersburg, no, never thought I’d live here. However, I always aspired to be a Woman of pressdog® and when I put my mind to something, I usually don’t disappoint ;). As far as the other things, I decided I would do whatever it took to make racing my career several years ago, and with that -- come these cool things I’ve been fortunate to do. Does that answer your question? ;) Thanks for interviewing, pd…it’s been fun, as always!