Shannon McIntosh is beginning her second season of USF2000 competition. She competed in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway on March 15 and advanced two positions to finish 15th. The 22-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla., resident is part of the Women Empowered initiative of TrueCar, and spoke about gearing up for the next chapter of her career.
Q: Before we get talking about the season-opening races at Sebring, it’s been a busy offseason for you. Recap what you’ve been up to.
The offseason has been a whirlwind. Once the season was over, we started reaching out to some teams as I began looking toward a fresh 2012 in USF2000. I tested with Pabst Racing at IMS in October, and being at the Brickyard was a experience in itself. After the test, I started working toward putting a program together with Pabst because I felt it was a place where I had the support I needed to excel, and a team that was behind me and my success. It was shortly after this that my management BRANDed and I were able to close a deal for the 2012 season with TRUECAR.com along with an opportunity to represent Tag Heuer in their Time for Rebels campaign alongside Actor Neil Patrick Harris. Before we knew it, the season was here.
Q: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda is going to look a bit different than it did when you ran last year, with a whopping 35 cars this year. How great is it to see the series grow so much over such a short period of time?
A: I think it is phenomenal; the car count that we’ve got this year. I couldn’t be more excited to be in a premier series with a stacked field because I’ve always said you gain the most from racing the toughest competition you can find. I am so proud of Andersen Promotions/USF2000 for getting this series to where it is today.
Q: How do you feel you’ve grown as a driver over the break, and what new knowledge do you take into the season opener?
A: I feel like a new person. After lots of time reflecting on what the reality of last season was, I am in a great position as I start what I have recently referred to as “year one”. Not only do I have a new sponsor and team, I have the incredible opportunity to work with driver coach Mike Zimicki, who has an extremely impressive track record and resume in working with champion drivers. The greatest knowledge that I think I have as I enter the new season, is that it is essential, to have an entire team that is behind your success, in order to be successful.
Q: Sebring is going to be bustling this week! How much fun is it to run with a big event like the 12 Hours of Sebring, and later in the season when USF2000 races with the IZOD IndyCar Series events?
A: When I jumped to the open-wheel side of the motorsports world, the beauty of the ‘Mazda Road to Indy’ was that we raced at high profile events alongside series’ like American Le Mans and the IZOD IndyCar Series. Not only is it inspirational and motivating, it gives my sponsors greater value, and I feel very fortunate to have that opportunity.
Q: Which race on the schedule are you most looking forward to?
A: I think that St. Pete is going to be the most exciting for me. Not only am I a resident of St. Pete now, it was one of my favorite courses last year. St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities and racing a few blocks away from my home makes it even better.
Q: On another note, you’ve been chosen as the host of the famous Grand Prix After Party at PUSH in St. Pete, something that Dan Wheldon did for several years. Tell us a little more on how special is it to you to take over that honor.
A: As a resident of the same city that Dan Wheldon called “home” for many years, I am honored to be able to be a part of a celebration that we are having to benefit the Dan Wheldon Family Trust. It is important to me that I help carry on his legacy in even the slightest way, and I hope that the Grand Prix After Party is a success for the Dan Wheldon Family Trust for many years to come.