Thanks for your time, Shannon. So, off the bat, how did your deal for 2011 come together? Who’s on that thank you list?
SM: It came together so quick. We have been working since the end of last season to get it together. Talking and testing with different teams and seeking partners. I had my sponsor beatbyagirl.org (Glass Hammer Racing) on board for 2011 and I got connected with Cape Motorsports at the same time I signed a deal with my most recent sponsor, Dale Pelfrey with Team Pelfrey Star Mazda team. I tested with Cape at the beginning of the month and really connected and felt it was a great place to be so we went forward. It's been a whirlwind. I can't thank my partner, Greg with beatbyagirl.org and Dale enough for giving me this amazing opportunity. I can't wait for the season to start. I also have to thank Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing for opening the door and of course my amazing family for the eternal support and love they give me. A special thanks to my agent, Klint Briney at BRANDed as well, for the hard work and a great first year working together.
You’re a Midwesterner (originally from Ohio). Growing up, who were your heroes in racing and why?
SM: Tony Stewart has always been my idol. I grew up watching Sprint Car and Midget racing and wanting to be a USAC/World of Outlaw driver. I admire that Tony can drive anything from a Sprint Car/Midget to a Dirt Late Model to an open-wheel car to a stock car...and WIN in everything. I also love that he has stayed humble. He is one of the coolest top drivers I've met/know...despite a temper which may get out of line sometimes; he is competitive and passionate about what he does and isn't afraid to show it.
|Shannon at Eldora. Her USAC cred is solid.|
SM: The hardest challenges I've had stem from the monetary issue. If you don't have money you can't race and if you can't race you can't prove yourself and show your talent...and if you're not on the track, sitting on the sidelines isn't making you better!
Not having an unlimited budget has been a blessing. I continuously am thankful for having to work hard to make thing happen. It makes it so much more worth it and I've been able to focus on finding partnerships/sponsorships from a business standpoint. Knowing what goes into racing and what it takes, brings more value to my sponsors.
You've got quite a solid history in USAC. With the changes to the Mazda Road to Indy, what are your thoughts on how USAC and the IndyCar series will progress in the future?
SM: I think it is so awesome that INDYCAR and USAC are working together to put programs in line for drivers like myself to move up the ranks. I think that providing a platform and essentially a tangible "place to go" gives drivers some incentive and direction. I think that we will continue to see more and more American drivers in INDYCAR and hope that the Mazda Road to Indy will provide some education for American companies that will motivate them to get involved.
What’s been your craziest moment in racing?
SM: Define 'craziest'. Haha... I don't know why this is the first thing that came to mind but when I was about 6 or 7, I was racing Quarter Midgets in Kokomo, Indiana. It was a 100 lapper and I got spun around in traffic at the beginning of the race. I ended up getting my rear end hooked on the rear end of the car in front of me-so my rear tires were lifted and I was being pulled around the track. It took about 20 seconds for me to figure out why I wasn't stopping while braking. This went on for a few laps while it was a caution and they tried to get the kid who was pulling me, stopped. I distinctly remember facing the kid who was following us who was waving at me. I was furious because I didn't think it was funny (yes, even at that age I was a spitfire). After the separation, I came back and won the race.
Lastly, if there’s any young ladies out there thinking about getting involved in racing, what would be your advice to them?
SM: Check out my partners website, beatbyagirl.org. Glass Hammer Racing is an organization that I've been involved with from the start (June 2010). We've built a program from the ground up that we created to encourage the interest and participation of motorsports for young women. We will be hosting our first Glass Hammer Racing Experience where I'll be coaching and working one on one with girls ages 10-16 at Fastimes in Indianapolis the first weekend of March. Any girls who are interested in getting involved please contact me or the owner, Greg Gaich through the website!