Fresh off her career best finish at the MAVTV 500, Pippa Mann is quickly becoming a household name in the IndyCar community. There were nerve-wracking moments on the oval Fontana track, but nonetheless, Pippa continued to push forward; giving Dale Coyne Racing a top 15 finish. I recently reached out to the rising Indy star to talk about her career.
What would be your ultimate achievement in racing?
As with most drivers in IndyCar, or with aspirations of being IndyCar drivers, I dream of the day when everything goes right one year at IMS on Indianapolis 500 race day. I would also love to race at the Daytona 24 hours, and 24 Hours of Le Mans in sports cars in the future too one day!
What was the best advice you were ever given?
To work hard, and not give up. That still applies every day. This is a tough sport, and a tough business. It's tough to raise the funding to be able to go racing, and this year I would not have been in a car at all if it was not for my team owner Dale Coyne believing in me, and continuing to call me back to come and climb in one of his cars on the oval race weekends this year. The other best piece of advice I was given was to not believe the things people who don't know you say about you - whether good or bad. I have fans who want to build me up, and I have detractors who want to tear me down. In the end, the opinions of the people with whom I work are the ones important to me. In this day and age of the internet, social media, and online anonymity, I think that's something important for every athlete to understand.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I think every athlete, in whatever sport, has a deep motivation inside them, and a desire to compete at the highest level they can that drives them forwards. It's not so much drawing inspiration from external influences, as looking inside, and being prepared to dig deep to go after what you want.
How did the concept of the Lego “Little Pippa” get started?
My husband is a massive Lego fan, and on his groom's cake we actually had a little Lego wedding cake topper, and then "Little Pippa" and "Mini Himself" in version one came with us on honeymoon. When we got back to the US, I spoke to a friend of mine who had a Lego figure representing her sports car drivers, and asked her whether she would mind me aping her idea in the IndyCar paddock. So then Little Pippa started traveling with me to race tracks, training, and in 2014 we actually got her branded up appropriately in a pink and white fire suit with Susan G. Komen, IndyCar and Honda logos - much like the real Pippa! Over the past couple of years, I'm pretty sure she's grown into a bigger name in her own right than I am!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes! For anyone reading this who has not watched an IndyCar race, if you like close open wheel racing you really should tune in and check us out. Our cars are big, bad, fast brutes without power steering, and the talent level of the field is high throughout. We race on road courses, street courses, short ovals and big ovals, and it's close competitive racing at high speeds. If you want to cheer for the American drivers, we have plenty of those in the field. If you want to cheer for the under-dogs, we have plenty of those too. And if you want to cheer for a female driver, I won't be racing at all of the upcoming races, but I do hope to be called up for a couple more of them to come and drive the blue and white 18 car again.
Given Pippa’s success so far this season, it’s a high probability we’ll be seeing more of her (and Little Pippa) in the future. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and her website to keep up to date on events and appearances.
Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons