When it comes to motorsport, the USA is known for it’s high-profile and prestigious championships such as NASCAR and IndyCar, however before drivers can reach these, they much compete in junior series and categories to perfect and hone their craft. Georgia Henneberry works with USAC (United States Auto Club) covering some of these lower formulae, providing fans with live updates and interesting content. I spoke to her about her own racing career, reporting and shaking off her on-screen nerves.
Although having spent many years karting, Georgia’s racing career didn’t start with a motor, and in fact she used to race horses. “I started racing at the age of 5, just not with wheels and a motor. I barrel raced horses from the time I was 5 until I was 13, so I guess you could say I’ve always had horsepower!” she said. She didn’t develop her love for motorsports until she was older, and once she had, couldn’t wait to get involved. “I was sitting at a restaurant with my Mom and started watching a NASCAR cup race adjacent to our table. For some reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. I knew right then I wanted to have a career in motorsports. I then switched from horses to asphalt sprint karts which I raced for 4 years. Then switched back to dirt and ran a 600cc micro for a season,” Henneberry explained.
At the age of 13, she began racing karts and from almost the first moment she began to compete, she knew motorsport would be a part of her life with the buzz of racing becoming addictive. “What really hooked me was the adrenaline rush. There’s a distinct moment for me where all my nerves and energy mould into one feeling and its right when the green flag drops. I also felt that at the track I was happiest. I quickly met friends that I will stay close with forever and it also gave me a path to follow,” Georgia told me. She began in the Route 66 Series as well as some Gold Cup events. “I also did a few street races which I found to be even more of a blast. In the micro I didn’t race any one particular series but instead ran a few local tracks weekly. Having both the asphalt and dirt background really helped my driving style. They are completely different from each other but I could mould the skills together to create my own style,” she described.
Henneberry originally wanted to be a professional driver, however when she began to think it just wasn’t meant to be, she was presented with another opportunity that could allow her to remain in the motorsport industry. “I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the USAC National team and start reporting. Once I had switched over to motorsports I immediately knew I wanted to create a career, whether it be on or off the track,” she said. With the realisation racing wouldn’t be a viable option, the disappointment had weighed heavily on Georgia, luckily her role with USAC allowed her to adjust her aim and strive for another target. “I was pretty upset that we weren’t able to race anymore and truly the reporting gave me a goal and creative passion to shoot for. I wanted to be better every single time I got in front of the camera. It’s almost like a personal race to me to see how I can grow and develop as a journalist,” she added.
With her first role working in the sport being with USAC, she was thrown into the deep-end. Managing their social media and pit reporting, Georgia’s other responsibilities include: posting live updates, advertising sponsors, and ensuring fans are happy and kept updated. “I was nervous to be in front of the camera but the more and more I did it, the more it felt natural. Now, 3 years into it I’ve made the decision I want to pursue a career in broadcast motorsports reporting due to my start in live reporting,” Henneberry explained. Since beginning this role, she has also started working with Clauson-Marshall Racing, a team racing within the series. “CMR is a big-name race team within the USAC series. One of the benefits of working closely with many teams is that I have the ability to build relationships. They asked me for the 2018 Chili Bowl (one of the highest-profile Midget races in the USA) to help with social media. The event went great for both the social media and the team, so from there on out I have on and off been doing their social media,” Georgia told me.
For the past 3 years, Henneberry has been travelling the USA following racing, and what she loves about USAC, is that every race is memorable. “There is always a different storyline, and there is always someone doing something spectacular. Just this year a couple of great moments were when Kody Swanson became the all-time winningest driver in USAC Silvercrown history, another was seeing Zeb Wise get his first USAC National Sprint Car win ever and also becoming the youngest driver to ever do it. Part of the reason they stuck out to me so much is because I was fortunate enough to do the interviews in victory lane,” she said. Although now she is very experienced being on-screen, when Georgia began the reporting side of her career, this was what she found tricky. “Truly, the biggest challenge is just being comfortable in front of the camera. Over time I have realized this is coming more and more naturally, but I still get insanely nervous if I haven’t done it for a while. Usually after the first video the nerves shake off,” Henneberry explained.
Looking to the future, driving is still something that Georgia loves and hasn’t ruled out a return to. “That will always be the true reason I got into racing. If the opportunity presented itself I would take it,” she said. However, this is not her only hope with her aiming to work in 2 of the most famous motorsport series in the world. “NASCAR and IndyCar are my main goals when it comes to the industry. They are what I have grown up with and I have always admired the members that make those series possible. One series that I have a secret love for is Supercross. I’ve always enjoyed going to events and following the series for the reason that they make it more of a show. It’s almost like going to a concert!” Henneberry exclaimed.
Georgia Henneberry has been working in motorsport for the past 3 years, but her involvement and interest goes back much further. Having been a racer herself, it is still something she would love to do again in the future, but for now is fully focussed on bringing fans the best content and most informative updates she can with USAC. However, when it comes to her reporting career, she would love to work in the series she grew up watching and admiring, IndyCar and NASCAR. Speaking of the advice she would give others who may be growing up watching her and wanting a career in the industry, she said: “make connections. Racing itself is a family so to grow it as much as you can will only benefit you!”