Freiberg Faces Fear Head On
Braselton, Ga., (May 21, 2013) - Ashley Freiberg has a fear of heights, but instead of avoiding tall buildings she goes rock climbing. Testing her mental and physical limits, the extreme sport has allowed Freiberg to train her brain to overcome fear, an ability that comes in handy while driving over 100 mph lap after lap in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.
The 21-year-old IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series driver is taking her racing career to new limits this year.
"I started rock climbing because I wanted to force myself to go to new limits that I never thought were possible," Freiberg said. "That's all you do behind a racecar - defy limits."
After a successful open-wheel career that began with winning five national karting championships in 2004, Freiberg ran the Skip Barber Racing Series at the age of 15, winning two championships and a National Series race. Last year, she transitioned to the Star Mazda Championship before joining the EFFORT Racing team in the IMSA development series.
Freiberg, who will be competing in her very first full season in sports cars, is the newest and youngest driver for EFFORT, but her performances this season don't spell rookie. Even with little testing prior to the 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in mid-March, she posted the fastest time on track in her first practice. Her debut in competition at Sebring International Raceway ended with fourth and fifth place finishes in rounds one and two of the season.
"Moving into sports cars has been a pretty big transition driving-wise for me," Freiberg said. "Obviously open wheel cars have a lot of downforce, and moving into a heavier sports car puts me on my toes and forces me to think about my driving. But so far I think it's been a pretty good transition for me."
A stellar debut performance was followed by an even more impressive run at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 9-11. At the 2013 American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón, Freiberg posted a second-place finish in round three for her first podium finish and rounded out the weekend with a fifth-place finish in round four. Her consistency at the track landed her the hot lap feature on the DRIVE Youtube Channel.
Heading into round five of the 2013 season, Freiberg is tied for first in the Platinum Cup standings with 58 total points. She is looking forward to racing at her favorite track, Watkins Glen International Raceway, for the first time in a sports car. The 3.4-mile course is just over three hours from her home.
"There's something about the atmosphere, where it's located and the way the corners flow together," Freiberg said. "I like the personality of the track, with high speed and long duration corners like Mazda Raceway."
Freiberg races in a bright blue metallic Porsche 911 with the No. 51 decal on the side. She chose the number 51 after the year her idol, Michèle Mouton, was born. Mouton always saw herself as a driver, not a female driver, and Freiberg races with the same mentality.
Competing on tracks like Watkins Glen, Road America and the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park through the IMSA Development Series allows Freiberg to learn the legendary Porsche 911 on some of the greatest tracks in North America.
"[IMSA] as a development series is great for me as a driver," Freiberg said. "Because all of the cars are equal, the driving part is really all in your shoes. Also, having races alongside ALMS and GRAND-AM develops the business side of racing as well. You have the opportunity to show yourself in front of professional race teams that you may be driving for one day. It's a strong place to be if you want to end up in the United SportsCar Racing Series some day."
From a business perspective, Freiberg understands the importance of marketing herself in the digital space. The Bondville, Vt.,-resident is approaching 4,700 Fans on Facebook, 1,800 followers on Twitter and has a well-established website that is updated frequently.
In addition to her personal marketing methods, Freiberg's unique forms of training also help her prepare for the future. Along with rock climbing, she enjoys running and biking near her Vermont home conveniently located amidst the mountains. Freiberg still has moments of panic when hanging by her fingers and toes from a cliff, but strapped into the cockpit there is no fear.
While she works to determine the style of car she wants to race in the future, she knows the top step of the podium at an IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama race is where she needs to be.
The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series heads to Watkins Glen, N.Y., June 28-30 for Sahlen's Six Hours of Glen. The first race, taking place Saturday, June 28 at 1:05 p.m., will be the 100th event for the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge. For live updates on EFFORT Racing and Ashley Freiberg follow @EFFORTRacing and @AshleyFreiberg on Twitter. For series updates, visit http://www.facebook.com/gt3cupchallenge