Jackie Heinricher and Pippa Mann are set to become the first all-female driver lineup in the history of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America this weekend when the season begins at Circuit of The Americas, and they have social media to thank for it.
Heinricher, an entrepreneur-turned-racer, and Mann, who has been chasing her racing dream since her childhood days in England, come to the sport from very different backgrounds but have built a partnership, and friendship, around their mutual desire to go fast.
The duo was recently announced to be joining Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing in a Pro/Am entry in this year’s championship in what figures to be a watershed season for both drivers.
“I’m still pinching myself, Heinricher told Sportscar365. “I’m not sure you could align yourself with nicer people or a more professional team.
“I have some long range plans, but ultimately it seemed like the right fit for someone who’s a pro like Pippa and the things that I’m interested in.
“As we started talking about these things, we were lucky enough to start talking to Wayne Taylor Racing and Prestige and I think it supports our goals as drivers and for me as a business leader.”
Mann agreed, saying the genesis of the whole program started when Heinricher reached out to her on Twitter.
“Funny enough, this got started on social media, and it got started because I noticed there was this person called @Racer_Jackie who was liking all of my stuff,” said Mann.
“When I looked at her profile, I thought, ‘ Oh, sweet, this is someone who races cars!’ so I followed her because she posts pictures of cars and I like pictures of cars. I like supporting other female drivers when I have the opportunity.
“Then one day, a message showed up that said, ‘Hey, I’d like to talk to you about something,’ and that’s where this started.”
For Mann, this marks a the first serious foray into the sports car racing world after a spent career in single-seater open-wheel cars.
Although a brief appearance testing a Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge-spec MINI at this year’s Roar Before the 24 test was her first sports car experience, Mann said it was circumstance rather than any lack of desire that had prevented her from branching out earlier.
“I wanted to find a pathway to get involved with sports car racing for a long time,” she said. “Unfortunately, my open-wheel achievements have me ranked as a Gold.
“I’m a Gold driver with zero sports car experience, which makes me not the best choice possible for a lot of team owners.
“Jackie actually reached out to me last fall and let me know that she was interested in maybe running Pro/Am this year, and if she did run Pro/Am she was interested in running with a female co-driver.
“So the conversation started, and it was initiated by Jackie, so I have her to thank for this opportunity.”
While Heinricher is set for her second year of Super Trofeo, after a season with DAC Motorsports, both drivers readily acknowledged there would be a learning curve, which makes setting goals a complicated task.
“Pippa walks faster than I do!” quipped Heinricher. “If I can just walk as fast as Pippa I’ll be super happy.
“I always have high expectations for myself. I’m a business person, I’m an athlete, I’ve always set very high goals for myself.
“But I’m realistic. I know our first race we’re going to be learning and be improving. I really think we’re going to do very well together.”
Mann said setting the bar at a realistic level and adjusting as the season goes along is her plan for the season as she learns a car that is very unlike anything she has raced in the past.
“It’s completely different,” Mann said of the Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo. “The sight lines are very, very different. The weight of the car, the way it moves around, is very different.
“But [compared to the MINI] the rear-wheel drive thing is much more familiar to me and I do feel like with a little bit of seat time and a few laps under my belt that I’m going to really enjoy driving the car.
“It’s fun already, but I’m a really competitive person. It only gets more fun for me when I get closer to where I want to be.
“I think for the first few race weekends, we need to work really hard and gel as a team, and I’d like to think that we could be competing for podiums in our class as the year goes on. I think that’s reasonable, and it’s potentially attainable.
“I’m always very mindful of setting goals for myself and for my program that fall into that category as opposed to ones that would be really difficult to meet. My goal is always to make the first goal, then set a new one.”
Both drivers were thrilled to be a part of the first all-female lineup in series history, but Heinricher stressed that they are in the series to be competitive as well as an inspiration to others.
“Let’s be clear, we’re all racing,” she said. “We’re all racing for the same things. It’s passion, it’s enjoyment. You can’t forget to smile when you’re doing these things!
“But at the same time, it gave me chills [to be part of the first female-only driver pairing]. I think there’s so many cool things going on in motorsports.
“A big part of my vision is to do something like this and to be here today and land this idea is really fantastic. I think it’s great. I think it’s great for the sport, I think it’s great for young drivers, I think it’s great for the brand.
“Pippa and I were lucky enough to align with a team that saw the vision and the perks of it and really support it. All the way around for me, I think it’s an important effort.”