Steering Her Own Destiny

Few college graduates can say they have a job waiting for them in this economy, or that they run their own company. Even fewer can say they are breaking barriers in a male-dominated sport.

But then again, Shea Holbrook is anything but ordinary.

The 22 –year-old is a full-time professional race car driver, runs her own career and actively works with a charity that’s fighting a disease close to her heart. In between that she managed to squeeze in a college education, and on Saturday, May 5, at 9 a.m. she’ll collect her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida.

At UCF, many of her colleagues didn’t believe her when she talked about her history-making racing career. In 2011, she became the first woman to win a Long Beach Touring Car Race at the Long Beach Grand Prix. She’s only the fourth woman to have ever won a professional race on that track.

Now with a degree in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication and a minor in Marketing, she’ll be even better equipped to run her company — Shea Racing – and stay in control of her own career.

“Racing started as a passion, but became my career,” said the self-proclaimed adrenaline-junkie. “I love it.”

A “life-changing” trip to the Richard Petty Experience in Daytona Beach with her dad in 2007 inspired Holbrook’s racing career. Too young to drive the car at the time, the experience of being a passenger was exciting enough to spark an interest.

A natural competitor, she previously fulfilled her craving for adventure as a water-skier. When she was old enough to drive she found something she was naturally good at that required a similar sense of fearlessness.

“If I was scared, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Holbrook said.

Although 15 is considered a late age to begin thinking about professional racing, her greatest challenge didn’t lie behind the wheel of her Honda Civic Si. It was trying to keep up with schoolwork while also balancing what had become a full-time job.

A competitor in the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Division, Holbrook typically races once a month from March to August, when the pro races run. She practices, or “tests,” bimonthly.

Despite the hectic schedule, the Central Florida native graduated from Montverde Academy in Lake County, earned her Associate’s Degree at Valencia Community College and arrived at UCF in 2010 through the DirectConnect program.

“Shea is a remarkable student and professional athlete,” said Bill Steiger, a visiting instructor in the College of Business. “She manages to balance both roles while maintaining a fantastic attitude and focus. She’s bright, driven—no pun intended—and loaded with entrepreneurial traits.”

Read more about Holbrook here.


Comments are closed.