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Brenna Schubert: "If you become a race driver you usually have a very strong passion"

Brenna Schubert is a young up-and-coming karting driver from the US who is moving up the ranks of karting competitions with an eye to her first formula car experiences. Let's discover more about the passionate racer and Economics student at Penn State University.


Photo courtesy: Brenna Schubert

Breathe in. Breathe out. Close your eyes. Open your eyes. The world stands still. Five lights in front of you. Waiting for the start. Her name is Brenna and her happy place is behind the steering wheel.


With this year's International Women's Day just behind us, we reflect on the importance of breaking the bias in our sport, aware that it will only be through direct actions aimed at increasing the female participation at grassroots levels that we will be able to reach gender parity in motor racing.


This is why we believe that it's of vital importance to talk about karting drivers and share their stories at the beginning of their journey in motorsport because it's only by encouraging more women to take on the challenge that we will grow the base of the pyramid and one day balance the gender ratio in higher-level motorsport.


Brenna Schubert is an up-and-coming karting driver from the US; she has won multiple races and championships starting from indoor karting competitions where she holds time records and won the annual LVGP500 race twice. At the age of 13, she moved to outdoor karting tracks.


Schubert won her first season in both the Yamaha KT 100 Pipe class and the Super Can category, remaining undefeated for three years in a row in the latter series, from 2014 to 2016.


In 2021, the talented young woman had her first test in a formula car at the Lucas Oil Racing School and will likely aim for the shootout in 2022. Schubert then continued her progress in karting in the Touring Kart Championship in 2021, winning the second round at United Karting. She claimed more podiums in the series, as well as in Endurance kart races.


"There is no disparity between male and female racing drivers' skill levels it's only because there's not enough women in the sport."

Racers: Let's discover more about this fast and ambitious lady - who is Brenna Schubert on and off the track?


Brenna: "I'm an economics student at Penn State and I also like to dance in my free time. I´m also a vegetarian as I care a lot about animals."


"I´ve been racing go-karts since I was like nine or ten and it's been almost 12 years now. I started with rental karting when I was 10 and then when I was 13 my dad bought me two go-karts to race competitively."


R: Dancing and driving a kart are two different worlds, but can you compare them and transfer something onto the racetrack?


B: "I was at a physical therapist the other day and he said that it's a good thing that I did both, the ballet and racing, because they're such opposites that they compliment each other for my body - for example I have a good posture and stuff like that."


R: How was your racing life so far, after you started to race competitively?


B: "I've kind of been stuck in the Yamaha SuperCan and Yamaha KT 100 Pipe for a while now and I also did some vintage sidewinder racing recently. My dad doesn't like to travel so I'm a bit stuck at my local track. But this past summer I got to travel around a lot more with the Touring Kart Championship I'm part of. It's just a rental kart championship, but it has a lot of competitive drivers and just traveling around to so many tracks like on the East-Coast of the US is just so cool."


"I also got to do the Lucas Oil Formula Car School and had my first test this summer in a formula car and it was so cool."


R: What are your plans for this upcoming season of motorsport?


B: "My next plans for this summer is to finally move up to either a Tag Kart or a shifter kart which are the next steps up from what I've been doing for so long and then hopefully I can get some more test days in a formula car."


R: You were initially announced in the Lucas Oil School Shootout last December then what happened?


B: "I originally was planning to compete in the Shootout in December 2021, but unfortunately I just didn't feel I was quite ready to enter the Shootout, so I decided that I had to do more higher level racing in national karting with shifter karts and then also try to get some more test days in a formula car. Hopefully next December I will be ready and competing there."


"But [in my test] I did very well, I think I was about fifth fastest out of the whole class."


R: Did Covid affect your plans from 2020 onwards?


B: "The first year it definitely affected me a little bit, because we only got to race half the season. Normally the season starts in April and it wasn't allowed to start until late July. But it actually allowed me to do more racing later on, because I didn't have to go back to University because we had virtual online classes."


"Normally I would have to go back to Penn State in Mid-August, but [in 2020] I was able to race all the way through October, and then the Touring Kart Championship was starting up which was a new thing for me. That started in March, so I got to travel around the world the following summer as well. I might not have been able to do as many races as I did if I had to go back to school. It was kind of a curse in the beginning but a blessing later."


R: What is the series you would dream of racing in, if there were no limitation to your choices?

B: "I mean, the ultimate dream would be F1, but I'm not sure if that is feasible just because I'm American and I'm also a woman. I am on the older side to still be karting, and just barely getting into formula cars now."


"But I think there's a small possibility that maybe IndyCar could work out. It just all depends on how that plays out and also financials too, because I´m not one of the rich race car drivers so it definitely depends on sponsorship as well."


"But if that path doesn't work out, I'd be happy racing in any series, primarily road course racing, but I also have wanted to try some dirt racing as well like rallycross that looks like fun."


R: Why do you think that it's more difficult for a woman in motorsport?


B: "I think that it can go either way. In some cases it could be easier down the line for women to gain sponsors, but not initially. I think it's harder for women when they're starting out or trying to make a transition to a bigger series, because I don't think a lot of people believe that they're actually good which is sad. So I think it definitely is harder for women in the beginning of the career stages."


R: What do you think about W Series as a means to help women in motorsport, do you like the series?


B: "It would definitely be a dream to make it to W Series, because it would be absolutely amazing to race Formula 3 cars in general no matter the series. It's free to enter, so it would definitely be my best option financially. But I definitely do not want motorsport to be separated by gender. It's not necessary, there is no disparity between male and female racing drivers' skill levels it's only because there's not enough women in the sport."


"When there will be enough women in the sport there will be equal levels, because there is nothing that holds women back."


R: Do you think that seeing women drivers competing in high-level motorsport helps other young women to get into the sport?


B: "If you become a racing driver you usually have a very strong passion to get you to that point, but I still think it's definitely beneficial because when I was growing up I was the only girl. There was one other girl, but other than that I had never competed against other girls and for me it didn't really bother me too much."


"I kind of was able to make friends easily with the rest of the boys. But you see more and more girls at racing events lately and it is just really cool. It's obviously working and helping to inspire a lot of young girls. For me it didn't really truly inspire me because I didn't see any back then when I was little, but it is inspiring me now."


R: Finally, where would you see yourself in five years' time?


B: "I guess in five years I would either see myself in IndyLights or IndyCar or in the Mazda MX-5 shootout. I'd love to be on the Road to Indy but the MX-5 Cup is definitely more doable though, so we'll see what happens."


"When there will be enough women in the sport there will be equal levels, because there is nothing that holds women back."

This weekend Brenna will hit the track at NOLA for the SimCraft 24hr - a karting endurance event. Schubert and her teammates will start in the Pro Class with the #321 Touring Kart Racing for the 24 hours race. The race will be streamed here and you can follow Brenna's progress on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest racing news here.


Photo courtesy: Brenna Schubert

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