When it comes to women Adrenalists in motorsports, fans appear to understand only one name, Danica Patrick. However, inside the sport a number of outstanding female athletes have established themselves as drivers to watch in the future, and among these, Ashley Freiberg (Fry-berg) should clearly be included at the top of any race team’s evaluation list.
Freiberg dominated the 2010 Barber Series scene by winning two 2010 Barber Championships while, at the same time, becoming the only woman to do so. In the course of her campaign, she produced 23 wins, and her impressive performance garnered her a nomination to the USA Scholarship program, based on a full-ride contract with a major racing organization for the 2011 USF2000 season. Although she didn’t win, Freiberg’s showcase results lead to an opportunity to test with Andretti Autosport. There, she produced credible results right out of the box, even though she’d never driven a USF2000 car before. “She put in some very respectable lap times,” commented Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “I think she showed a lot of potential and did a great job.”
As result of Ashley’s obvious value as an emergent US female racing role-model, along with offering enormous potential as a marketing vehicle in support of the future of US open-wheel racing, The Adrenalist wanted to catch up with the young woman to see what pushes her to do what she does.
“I race because it takes me to a different world in my head, where the only thing I think about is driving the car to the (limit). I become part of the car, and can feel what the car is telling me. But racing doesn’t just involve talent, it involves hard work between driver and team. Everyone needs to put in equal effort to win, but it is an amazing feeling when it all comes together to reach the mutual goal. It feels good to know that I’ve worked hard for any success. I love searching for every possible time gain on the racetrack, and every time I go the track, there is always something new to be learned. I love to race because it doesn’t just involve driving fast, but taking advantage of the skills and knowledge I’ve obtained from past experiences; it’s like putting a puzzle together. And of course, I race because I love to drive, I have always been a competitive person, I love the adrenaline of driving at the limit, I love the smells and the sounds, I love every bit of it.”
“My strength is that I work hard at what I do. I have a hunger to constantly make myself better in all aspects of racing, and I drive myself to make things happen. I admit my weaknesses, and try hard to figure out ways to overcome them efficiently; whether it’s a concern about physical strength, or how I need to approach a potential sponsor, I always want to get better. That said, I have a tendency to let emotions get in the way when driving such as, ‘Hey that guy just totally blocked me!’ However, I have gotten much better at controlling that upset while resetting myself. I guess that is why my ‘stay smooth, stay on line, good basics’ mantra helps me so much, and brings me back to the job that needs to be done.”
“Winning, or accomplishing any sort of goal, is an amazing feeling that is difficult to describe because of how intense it is. I have dedicated my life to racing. So much work goes into driving a racecar and driving it well, that when you do achieve a goal, win a race, or win a championship, I feel like I am on top of the world, and the thrill is truly indescribable. On the other hand, however, when I lose, particularly depending on the circumstance, it can be frustrating, but there is always something to learn. So, even when you lose you win, because you always have to take what you learn and commit yourself to doing even better next time.”
Regardless of Freiberg’s obvious athletic talent, and commitment to her craft, her 2011 experience has been challenging and can be articulated in one short phrase – lack of money. “I talked to many potential sponsors this year in an attempt to push my program up to USF2000 or Star Mazda, but although I saw the light in the tunnel here and there, in the end of the day it always seemed to go out. The current economy is really, really hard right now, but I’m going to keep fighting until I get the job done.”