It was perfectly understandable if Pippa Mann pulled off her helmet and decided to kick back for a while after driving to a 17th-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway can be a grind, not to mention the 12-month effort it took for Mann to get there.
The 33-year-old from Ipswich, England, spent a year securing sponsors, courting those who may support her in the future, working charity pursuits, entertaining fans and maintaining a connection with them in person and through social media.
But there’s no lying low for the only woman driver in this year’s 33-car field. No getting away from it all to mentally reset, no taking a deep breath after everything it took to pursue this passion and achieve her best Indy 500 finish in her sixth start in the legendary race.
OK, maybe the deep breath. But the prep for next year’s Indianapolis 500 began the moment her race ended this year.
“It doesn’t stop,” said Mann, who drove the No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Susan G. Komen Honda. “For me, the entire week after the race is pretty ridiculous … work coming out of my ears.”
Her monthlong “Get Involved” campaign to raise money for Komen’s breast cancer research continued through the week after the 500. It included an eBay auction of signed memorabilia from Mann and other drivers, plus such items as her race-worn driving suit and an opportunity to take a workout class with her. In the past two years, the campaign has raised more than $135,000 for cancer research and other community-based programs in the U.S.
“I do all my own social media, so I try and run the campaign social media,” she said. “I’ll be coordinating with the people who are running the campaign about getting the last items shipped to them.”
There’s also Mann’s own online store and items she had to ship after an Indy 500 weekend that brought a spike in orders, plus more work with sponsors and potential sponsors. The plan is to keep her datebook full with meetings and pitches toward the 102nd Indianapolis 500 in 2018.
“I’ll be checking with all the people who want to connect back with me in terms of the other appearances they’ve got lined up for me this year,” Mann said. “I’ll be reconnecting with some of the people we entertained (in May) who didn’t actually jump all the way up and partner on the car for this year, but who we are talking with about partnering with the car for next year.”
That’s in addition to Mann’s other racing commitment, driving a Lamborghini in the Super Trofeo North America Series. Her next event in that car is June 28-30 at Watkins Glen International.
Mann said she will take time to recharge at the end of the Verizon IndyCar Series season with husband, Robert Gue, the race strategist for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe.
“We get away around Thanksgiving,” she said, “but …”
Even if she’s relaxing somewhere exotic, she’ll still probably have a computer nearby.
“Yes, I tend to have my laptop with me,” she said. “I don’t want to miss the email where somebody says, ‘I want to talk to you about being a part of your program.’ I want to be there for that.
“I’m not very good at disconnecting.”
Mann partner working on out-of-this-world auction item
One of Mann’s new partners this year could make a lasting effect for Komen in 2018. Made In Space, Inc., billed as the world’s first space manufacturing company, is working to create a three-dimensional pink running ribbon – the color and logo identified with the fight against breast cancer – that will be printed on a 3D printer aboard the International Space Station orbiting the earth.
Once printed in October during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the ribbon will be returned to earth aboard a resupply craft and auctioned early in 2018. Proceeds will benefit Komen.
Mann said that the process to return the ribbon to earth takes about three months “because, you know, there’s not deliveries to space every day of the week and it takes a little while to get it home once you have one of those little shuttles leaving.”
She sees it as a great opportunity to merge her racing activities with the greater cause of the fight against breast cancer.
“The big thing is it’s really cool,” Mann said of the Made In Space effort. “They don’t want to just support us and help put a race car on track. They also want to do something independently, through me, that is going to help raise money for Susan G. Komen.
“What a cool activation opportunity that is. I’m geeked. It’s out of this world, right?”