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Crossroads: Onroad Meets Off

While separated by geography and terrain, onroad and off-road motorsports have one thing in common: the intense dedication required to succeed. For the first chapter of our Crossroads series, we invited Gabby Downing and Shelby Hall — two rising stars in the on and off-road spaces — to strap into one another’s worlds for a fun, reflective ride.

Crossroads: Gabby Downing x Shelby Hall

Two Women

Gabby Downing and Shelby Hall were the ideal match for this chapter because of their obvious similarities and interesting differences. As up-and-coming female racers, they offer a unique perspective on their individual pursuits as well as motorsports as a whole. Their eyes on these sports are fresh ones, and they hold both reverence for the history of motorsports and a vested interest in the future. 

Their backgrounds, however, couldn’t differ more. Shelby is a third-generation off-roader with a deep family legacy at her back. She’s learned a lot from some very talented mentors, as well as an adolescence spent working at the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Shelby was practically born in the seat of a trophy truck and has only stepped away from the world of off-road motorsports for just a few brief chapters of her journey. Off-roading isn’t just her job. It’s her life.

Gabby found motorsports all on her own. She began her adult life as a successful high-fashion runway model. She worked in the industry for years, happy for the opportunity to get out of her hometown in Virginia and travel the world for a while. But the model’s life was incredibly restrictive. Too restrictive for someone who enjoyed the outdoors and working her hands as much as Gabby did. She quit, moved back to Virginia, and began to tinker with cars in her garage.

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Two Passions

Shelby spent the early years of her career racing with her grandfather, Rod Hall. Rod is a legendary off-road racer, and he did his best to impart some of his record-breaking knowledge to Shelby in her youth. After his death in 2019, she took a break from racing for a while. But it wasn’t long before the off-road world drew her back in. She was invited to join the Ford Bronco Racing Team, as they prepared to re-launch the Bronco. The team was stacked with talent, all of whom welcomed Shelby back to off-road life with wise and open arms. After a few years of racing for Ford and other teams, Shelby gained the momentum she needed to race on her own. Check out our full profile of Shelby here.

Gabby’s career has been a journey of self-expression, exploration, and experimentation. After discovering her love of building, she dabbled in many types of motorsports competitions and worked on many types of vehicles, all the while amassing a sizeable following on social media. Today, Gabby primarily competes in drift competitions with her 1999 C5 Corvette. She also off-roads for fun in a 2023 Ford Bronco and has also competed in the Mint 400 race in an off-road limousine. Check out our full profile of Gabby here.

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One Mindset

As different as their sports and their lives are, Gabby and Shelby share an attitude when it comes to competition. Both girls were born natural competitors — and both completely understand that competitive feelings, for athletes, can just as easily be a mousetrap as they can be a springboard. The difference boils down to mindset.

During their Crossroads experience, the topic of competition came up and each racer described her journeys toward discovering a healthy way to channel it into a potent fuel for success.

“I am naturally very competitive. I like putting myself up to a challenge and conquering that challenge. During a race, there are often multiple times when I feel like, ‘Whose idea was this?’ but then I remember that finish line feeling, and I push through. It’s my carrot. Telling myself I can do it when part of me feels like I can't. It feels amazing.” – Shelby Hall

“I am so competitive that it got to the point where I had to dial it back and learn how to compete against myself. It's easy to beat yourself up when you don't finish. But I've learned to make it a game and to continue playing and competing against myself. As long as I'm better than I was yesterday or better than I was at the last race and I keep progressing, that's what matters to me.” – Gabby Downing

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Building for the Journey

Both Shelby and Gabby emphasize the enjoyment of the process as additional keys to success in life as well as racing. Each at the beginning of their careers, Gabby and Shelby understand that to “finish first, first, you have to finish.” And more importantly, you have to enjoy the journey. Because while trophies are wonderful, every race isn’t gonna end with one in your hands. But every race is gonna end with a story. Another chapter along the journey.

Sometimes it’s a lesson. Sometimes it’s a laugh.

“I am building to carry on my family legacy and to pave my own path. I want to be an inspiration and motivation for other women to get in the driver's seat and find out how much more capable they are than they think they are.” – Shelby Hall

I am building for fun — to enjoy every moment that I can. There's so much of this world to see, so why not have some fun with it?” – Gabby Downing

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You can keep up with Gabby Downing and Shelby Hall by following them on Instagram.

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