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Life in the Fast Lane with Racecar Driver Ashley Freiberg

Written on February 26, 2013 at 11:24 am , by

Freiberg has the need for speed. (Photo courtesy of Effort Racing)

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

How fast have you driven a car?  As a law-abiding citizen, we’re going to assume not too much higher than the speed limit. Racecar driver Ashley Freiberg, on the other hand, regularly clocks in over 100 miles per hour like it’s no sweat, and wins races pretty consistently in the male-dominated sport. Ever since she began racing as a teen, Freiberg has nabbed first place in 29 Skip Barber races (racing’s equivalent of being signed to the minor leagues), and in 2010, she captured two Skip Barber Series championships and became the first woman to win both a Skip Barber Racing Series overall title and Skip Barber National Series event.

Freiberg will be the first to tell you there’s more to the sport than driving with a lead foot, though. We sat down with the 21-year-old to talk racing, training and her favorite ways to break a sweat when she’s not behind the wheel. Ready, set, go!

You first learned about the racing industry when you nabbed a job as a timing official when you were 11 years old. What did you think about it back then?

Well, my brothers got into racing when I was about 10 years old and honestly, I didn’t even think women raced. I just thought it was mostly guys, so it never really crossed my mind that a girl could be out there.  But I loved watching it, that’s for sure.  That’s why I wanted to be in the timing and scoring tower because I could watch racing all day long.  Then as I started to get older, I saw more girls on the track racing go karts and I thought, ‘Hey, maybe this is something I could do.’

Was your family supportive when you decided to give it a try?

I’ve always been a tomboy.  I grew up with two brothers and no sisters, so I was always on a skateboard and playing basketball.  The only person who was against it was my mom.  She didn’t think I was aggressive enough, I guess.  I remember a friend of ours was like, ‘I think she’s got it in her,’ so he kind of convinced my mom to get me into it.

Speaking of basketball and skateboarding, do you think your athletic background helped make the transition from team sports to racing easier?

For sure! I’ve always been super competitive; I think growing up with two brothers is what helped grow that competitive spirit inside of me because we’d always be seeing who could be the best at this or beat each other in any kind of game. I definitely think that sports really helped develop all kind of skills that transitioned into racing, like determination, handling pressure and competitiveness.

Your career really started to take off while you were still in high school. Did you miss any of the high school rites of passage?

Oh yeah.  I never went to prom.  I went to one high school dance freshman year, and then driving got way more serious, so it ended up being the only one I went to.

But you were happy with the decision?

To be honest, when I look back, I’m really happy with the choices I made.  Sometimes I didn’t hear the best stories after prom!

What are your favorite kinds of workouts?

I like to mix it up and challenge myself.  Recently, I got into rock climbing, so that’s been challenging physically, but also mentally—I’m afraid of heights.  But that’s why I wanted to get into it because it would push me beyond what my perceived limits were.  And when you’re in a racecar, that’s what it is. You’re thinking, ‘How hard can I push?  How hard can I push?  Go harder, I know I can go harder’—like banging my head on that limit ceiling.  So that’s why I got into climbing, and I like to be outside too.  I like to go skate skiing too, which is a fun, killer workout.  I just like to be outside!

How is training for racecar driving different than a typical workout?

I just try to mix it up as much as possible and use as many skills as I possibly can to challenge different parts of my body.  Even eye usage—I have workouts for my eyes that literally strengthen them—you focus on things close to you, then far away, and they literally hurt afterwards.  I’m driving a new car this year, too, and it’s enclosed with the engine basically in there with me, making it very hot. So training for heat conditions will be something new for me this year, for sure.

What’s it like racing guys?  Do they push you more?

Honestly, it seems normal to me.  Growing up with brothers, I’m used to that and being competitive. I say ask the guys how they feel racing a girl.

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  • Dlffry

    I think it’s time for someone to look at Ashley for who she is and not what she is trying to become. Who really helped Ashley to get her where she is today, stories such as this one is more like a fairy tail than reality. Ashley’s life, the family she has destroyed, the people she has used, please just reach out to anyone from her family and freinds back home in Homer Glen Illinois where she was raised.

  • Lisa

    to Diffry, I am so sorry you had a bad experience.  I haven’t met Ashley personally but have communicated with her via email/facebook/twitter.  She has been wonderful to me.  I know zero of what you are referring to but I like to think that we won’t be judged too harshly by the things we did before age 21.  Again, I’m sorry and will send positive thoughts your way.

  • CB

    Dlffry – You are a whining, jealous, idiot! Get over yourself!!
    “Before you begin on the journey of revenge, dig two graves” ~ Proverb

  • Freibergbill

      I’ve known you since you were born and you’ve always held a soft spot  in my heart! 2 1/2 years ago you made decisions that have hurt yourself, family, and friends. Your start in racing came from your father who spent millions and countless hours (at the expense of his business and his health!). The very least you can do acknowledge those who have given you the opportunities that have gotten to this point in your career and life, your parents!!      

  • Cbuzanis

    Dear Ashley,

    I saw the 2010 Girl Scout photo I took
    of you on Facebook.  It caught me by
    surprise.  You gave such a nice,
    heartfelt presentation – it was a great day with so much support from family (especially your Mom!)
    and friends.  You told the girls about
    your uncommon high school experiences and how so many of your old friends were
    making “bad choices” in their lives.  I
    still don’t understand how completely abandoning your entire family was a ‘good
    choice’.  I have been trying to understand
    your decision, remaining quiet until now.  The cards and little gifts I’ve
    been sending were sincere – no hidden agenda – I do love and miss you. 
    Contrary to your implications regarding
    your family (i.e., telling your Mom to “get on with her life”), everyone has had
    to move forward with their lives since you left, but obviously not without
    pain.  Why is severing ties with every
    one of your relations necessary?  In
    spite of all the hurt between you and your family I hoped that you and I could
    have had some contact.  I’ll always respect
    and support your career, but not the “bad choices”. 

    Aunt Chris
    P.S.  Who the hell is “CB” posting nonsense?!


  • JanisKovac

    CB who the hell are you? Obviously you are not in our circle of friends and family. Posting such a hurtful statement and being a coward as to who you are. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but your comment goes WAY beyond that so why not reveal yourself . Actually I can think of plenty of other names for you.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J57II6HZKCKOJYJ7TPVRFMSLNY Jena Kovac

    WOW! If people only knew the Ashley we all knew for 19 years.  Something happened 2 1/2 years ago that changed SO many peoples lives forever! The pain and devastation I’ve seen on the faces of her family and friends is crazy! Ashley has parents and brothers that gave everything (support/love/money) to a girl that ‘Ran Away’ from everyone.  For a 19 year old girl to think she knows whats right and thinks she has the world at her fingertips is just silly.  She will realize one day what she has done to all the people that were by her side AT ALL TIMES.  I want the Ashley back that pulled up to her house after she was the first woman to win a Skip Barber Championship….her family and friends all  were waiting outside with banners and balloons ready to celebrate OUR CHAMPION!!!!  The smile on her face was priceless, thats the Ashley I choose to remember. 

  • Janiskovac

    To Fitness Intern
    After reading countless articles on the promising career of Ashley Freiberg, I feel compelled to respond to this one. With regard to Ashley saying she did not have the support of her Mother, nothing could be further from the truth. Her ENTIRE family and a HUGE circle of friends supported her, whether by attending her many races, following her races online or tv, donating monetarily, or just a handshake or hug of congratulations no matter where she finished in the races. And the PRIMARY supporters doing all this and much, much more were her Mother and Father. Everyone needs to know these two people are the most kind, generous and loving people I know. they BOTH supported Ashley in her every endeavor EVERY step of the way – UNTIL – Ashley, for reasons we do not know, decided to cut off all contact with a loving family and all of her friends to pursue her career on her own. As one of those friends that she chose to leave behind, I DO wish her every success. However, you and her followers need to be aware there is a large facet of her life that she chooses to just forget existed. I hope someday soon she will FINALLY be honest with herself and everyone and embrace the parents, family and friends who still love her.

  • brentsn

    Obviously something happened. Looks like alot of bitter feelings towards Ashley by friends (ex ?) and family. Im not going to pretend to know anything because I don’t. I just want to say I don’t think this is where dirty landry needs to be aired out. I also believe theres 2 sides to every story and the public may never hear Ashley’s side , who knows. It sounds like a family matter to me and should be dealt with , within the family , not in a public forum. So it looks to me like Ashley “left behind” a bunch of people who are now very bitter and trying to embarrass her.You say you’re still friends and you want to see her do good….but , I can’t tell. The way I read the article , her mom wasn’t supportive at first,but she did support her. So I don’t understand that comment. Y’all are saying the same thing , but nobody knows why ?? SOMEBODY has to know, there HAS to be some kind of reason. Obviously something happened…how can nobody know why ? I admire what Ashley is doing and will continue to do so. I won’t be distracted by this,but I feel bad for all involved. If this is all true , it wouldn’t have happened for no reason. Only hearing one side , I have to believe Ashley had some reason for things to turn out this way. I will always support her talent and be a fan !

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ISLCUGYR4ETLNFRIM2CFX463AU Bill

    CB, You must be the idiot she’s living with

  • ipaynt67

    I cannot believe that you would put your family and friends through this. You were so sincere when you came looking to us to support your racing endeavors and wound up hurting the ones that love and supported you so much?? As the parent of a similar aged child who has been forced to work for everything he has, you have NO IDEA little girl!!. My hope is that someday, after you do or don’t realize your dream, is that you find it in you heart to give back to the people that you SO MUCH!!

  • Dcponelli

    Bill…NO you are wrong! She doesn’t live with me I am just a REAL FRIEND who has her back! You guys have some nerve posting your personal laundry on a public forum!

  • Uncle Greg

    Ashley Freiberg, my niece has skeletons in her closet.

    It is those of her family. that at 18 years old that she essentially left for dead, 52 year Mike brought her out east for a different racing career after Chuck was not going to renew hes six figure contract he was paying Chuck to manage her.

    Ashley’s Father Chuck and her Mother Donna had spent millions of dollars supporting her with FreibergRacing, (look it up), and helping to make a trailer for a show to be called “Fast Girls” when Ashley was 16.. Although the show was not picked up, the videos for the potential premier exemplify the support Chuck gave to Ashley and her deep appreciation for that support.

    I feel that 52 year old Mike manipulated a young, talented and impressionable girl, as soon as she was of legal age, to leave her family forever and become his meal ticket and sole Companion.

    Ashley may become the next Danica Patrick, but her Sponsors will hear the real story of Ashley and Mike, with the pain that was caused and why.

  • zendra

    Wow.  To all the “family” and “friends” bashing Ashley — taking your trash to a public forum, while she clearly is not.  Very telling.

    Those that live in glass houses should not throw stones. 

  • Dlffry

    As the father to Ashley Freiberg, I would like to say thank you to every one of you who had posted on this forum. For most, the sharing of concern and your heart felt feelings are greatly appreciated. When I had first written my original post at 1:30 am, I did not realize until now this may not have been “my” bestof decisions lately. I had no thoughts or intensions of this forumto imply fault or implicate that Ashley is not who she is today. My original post is derived from 2 ½ years of pain and sufferingfrom of the loss of my daughter Ashley. For my wife and I, my two sons, my sister and brothers, aunts uncles, and all the friends that have helped support Ashley’s racing endeavors along the way, we are deeply saddened. I think about Ashleyevery day, Ashley and I were so very close. I love her and miss her so very much… she is my daughter. There were many nights when Ashley would ask me to come in and sit on her bed just to talk. I was not only Ashley’s father, I was her friend. Icherish those times; and I remember back when… As Ashley and I would travel all over the country, through the good and bad in racing, the two of us together would always find a way to laugh at each other, make jokes with one another, enjoy the times we had, and always find time for ice cream regardless of what time it was. For a family that came from not having any interest in racing, knowledge or experience, the challenges ahead were unknown. Some of this had been touched on in an earlier post. Ashley somehow appears to have forgotten the entourage of love and support that was instrumental to Ashley’s success and why she is where she is today. Ashley’s brothers, if it wasn’t for their support, their beliefs in Ashley, the love, andguidance, Ashley would not be racing today. The endless hours of work till 12-1-2:00am after school and work appear to be forgotten. After every race weekend these karts and formula carswere completely disassembled and rebuilt from the ground up, rebuilding carburetors, engines, brakes, fuel pumps, you name it,Ashley’s two brothers welcomed the responsibility to work on Ashley’s race cars.
    Ashley is a great person; she has all the qualities that anyone would love, and Ashley has a great talent.
    My original note was to reach out to Ashley in a way that maybe she would have stumbled upon it, or at the least, passed along by a friend. Ashley needs to know that I along with her mother and family love and miss her tremendously. I want to share that we want Ashley back in our lives, and we would love for Ashley to be a part of our lives in some way. It would be wonderful just to have the ability to communicate with her again. As posted earlier, there are two sides of every story, and this is not the venue to air. However, simply stated, Ashley did not leave homeand sever herself from life in the Midwest stemming from anything she has done, nor has Ashley severed herself from family and friends stemming from anything back home either.(Leaving home because of a lack of funding or a ride is simply not true. Phones disconnected, E-mails changed, no response to any family member who reaches out. For my wife or me to call where Ashley lives today, we are screened by the person who answers the phone. As we try to move on as it appears Ashley has, we send cards, gifts and messages for birthdays and holidays or even just because, it’s difficult as we wonder, is whoever taking care of Ashley passing our families love to her.

    In writing this note, I understand their will be those that may lash out, and those that do not understand and perceive their may be other ways and means to communicate with my daughter. Please understand that if this were possible, this note would not exist here today.

    I am just a father with a broken heart that misses my daughter every day.

  • Speedracer4602

    Hello drama! first of all, I agree with Brentsn. This is a public forum on a fitness magazine’s website. Not Jerry Springer. These are matters that should be settled within the family and through private emails/phonecalls/etc… not in this manner. It looks tacky. You all keep posting that she has “hurt herself” and “has no idea little girl” …. but i gotta say, looks as though Ashely has done pretty well for herself on her own. She is alot further in her career now than she was back a couple years ago wouldnt you all say?? She didnt have big sponsors then, wasnt getting interviewed by magazines then. You all just keep metioning how much money was spent on her back then… is that all you are all about? cuz thats what it sounds like. Trying to attack her like this on a public forum in the manner that you all are is disgusting. If i was her and dealt with so called “family/friends” who thought it was cool to post dirty laundry like this i wouldnt want to acknowledge them either…… not one of us is perfect… you all should be ashamed of yourselves. if you all were true family and friends you would be proud of the success that she has had over last few years. And if you really wanted her to ‘acknowkedge’ you as it looks like you are all so concerned that she does, perhaps try a different approach than the one you are all currently using but it sounds like everyone is just more concerned with getting their 15 minutes. A few of you are saying she doesn’t communicate to her family. However look at the negativity you are sending out. So I wouldn’t be surprised. Regardless, this isn’t the place for all this family drama. The focus of this article is from a fitness standpoint and the comments that follow should be about that. Not what this l
    And the ‘skeletons in the closet’ comment, would you be so squeaky clean if someone looked into your past decisions? We all have them Before we throw stones at others, we must take a closer look at ourselves….

  • Zendra

     Just a tip from a daughter — this is certainly not the way to get back into your daughters life.  As a parent — unconditional love and letting children fly — even if we don’t like the direction they are going.  She will come back — if the vibe changes.  Judging by each “family” member — I wouldn’t go back to that vibe either.  Doesn’t sound loving to me.

  • brentsn

    Uncle Greg, I don’t quite understand “Chuck was not going to renew his six figure contract he was paying Chuck to manage her”. Is it supposed to be that Chuck paid Mike six figures ? So is Mike her manager ? Just confused.

  • brentsn

    Mr.Freidberg , This is my 3rd comment here. I’m 54,been divorced for 13 yrs,never had kids.I raced a late-model sportsman locally for 10 yrs. So now I’m a fan , I guess (I hate that word).I have no business replying to this situation,I just understand the passion and hard relentless work by many ,that it takes to maintain in this sport I love.So I wanted you to know my backround slightly anyways.               I hate haters. I don’t comment online to bash or hate anything or anyone.I love my sport and the people in it.90% of fans don’t have a clue what all it takes to be involved or the talent that it takes to be involved in this sport.                                                                                My opinion from your post here Chuck ,is that it came from a very sincere father. I know if I was in your shoes,I would be crushed. I think I understand a little more after reading the comment from Uncle Greg. I don’t know if this is correct , but evidently this Mike also played a big part in Ashley’s career ?  I’m guessing there was a difference in opinion as far as the direction of Ashley’s career between family and Mike ? I take Ashley to be a very intelligent young women that experienced alot of ups and downs in racing all these years. So I’m guessing she had her own ideas ,or the family blames Mike for taking her away ? Possibly Ashley and as Uncle Greg puts it , 52 yr old Mike are together as a couple ? Some wrote how she just did this for no reason , but I understand a little better now. Theres alot of details to go through to have this figured out as to exactly what happened. I’m sure it took alot for Ashley to make this decision. Being what it is and admitting I don’t know all the facts , I have to respect Ashley and I want her to do well. I’m        really very sad of this situation , regardless who’s at fault. Maybe everybody owns some blame ? Maybe not. I take it as a business decision that turned very personal. I’m sure there was discussion and opinions that took place before this happened. I don’t believe in the middle of the good times , Ashley just picked up and left. The only ones that can place blame are the ones involved and there was obviously a difference of opinion there. I wish I could listen to all the conversations between all of you the last 3 years or so. Since thats impossible , I am a fan of Ashley’s and I’ll be very happy for her as she climbs , cuz no doubt she does have the talent. And I feel very sad for the family. I know you all had your lives AND finances invested. If i was part of all the dedicated work and travel to be a part of someone I loved to succeed , I would be devistated. I’m so sorry the way this turned out. I wonder if some things could have been changed or compromised maybe to make this not have turned out the way it did. I know I would have done anything I possibly could to stay involved in some way with Ashley and her career. I can’t imagine how anything could keep me away. I  believe theres still more to this story. I believe nobody could talk Ashley in to this,if she thought its what she needed to do. I give her more credit than that. I believe this all comes down to opinions and decisions by all involved. Funny thing is , both of those things can be changed at any time. These are just my opinions, I’ve never met any of the people involved. I just love racing and the people in it !

  • Uncle Greg

    I am Uncle Greg. We, Ashley.s family, are not “bashing” the wonderful Ashley. None of us are. Her mother and father have been not allowed to communicate in any way with Ashley. Mike has threatened legal action for doing so, Donna, Ashley’s mother, was threatened  for telling her that she loved her and wished Ashley a Merry Christmas on an email. My daughter, Kim, Ashley’s cousin, lives in Austin Texas. Kim has contacted Ashley many times to get together in Austin when Ashley is there. Ashley refuses to do so because Mike thinks it would be inappropriate to speak with anyone from her “past”. Kim asked me why she cannot see her cousin?

    So, to think that all of Ashley’s family back home have an avenue to contact her is wrong. She and Mike have cut us all off, leaving this stupid venue as the only one that we have had in a few years to vent are feelings. You are all entitled to the “Wonders of Ashley” stories that  will be told possibly for may years. I apologize for those of you who read this and only want to read fluff regarding Ashley’s accomplishments, We, Ashley’s family and friends, mean no harm. 

    Since Mike, (I hope you all know Mike, Ashley.s life manager), has taken Ashley with him, they have been living together as soon as she 18, and of legal age, he was 52, Ashley is his meal ticket to success and companionship and whatever. This leaves her mother and father, brothers, friends, aunts and uncles, cousins and all the people from her 4 years of racing with Freiberg Racing cut off from her life forever.

    We are not permitted to communicate with Ashley in any form, including her mother and father that love her very much.

    For those who think there are two equal sides to this story, I would ask them to speak with Mike and see if there is anything that any of us has said that is untrue. We do wish success for Ashley, we would just want her as a part of our lives again.

  • vicentewakk

     By going over your theory questions after you have completed your theory test, you can be sure that as a driver.