Ashley Judd stands at the edge of the track after the Indianapolis 500 auto race was won by her husband, Dario Franchitti, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 27, 2007 (Photo: AJ Mast)
ESPN pit reporter Brienne Pedigo's fiancé, General Hospital star Tyler Christopher, got a taste of the Indianapolis 500 yesterday:
"Life is good. I'm just here to enjoy the race. My fiancée is here as a pit reporter. I'm just trying to learn this crazy race business. I had the privilege of going through the garage of Panther Racing and seeing the shells (of the car). I now understand why so many of the drivers are smaller. I can't imagine being in one of those things trying to maneuver. I couldn't fit in the car."
Q. I'd like to know more about Brienne Pedigo, the new USAC pit reporter who debuted at the Copper Classic in Phoenix last week. I think she's from a racing background in Indianapolis.
A. Professionally, Brienne has been part of the ESPN network, having commentated on auto racing events and on the Professional Bowling Association. Her father, Gary, holds joint ownership for two-time Indy Racing League champion Panther Racing team.
"I've been around racing my whole life, and I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to get the nation excited about USAC racing and these new cars," Pedigo said. "We have a really great group of drivers and cars, and this season should be one for the ages."
Brienne, 25, is the daughter of Gary and Juliane Pedigo of Greenwood, Ind. She has a sister Louise and two brothers, Scott and Matt.
Her own words tell more about this...
Hi, I am Brienne Pedigo. I was born and raised in Indiana with a family of thrill seekers. I learned to be tough growing up with a big brother who still believes no mountain is too high to climb, no dive too deep, and there is no such thing as "too fast."
"Speed" was part of my family's vernacular. My dad would say things like "if you were back right now you'd be late." Once he bet me $50 that I couldn’t run down two flights of stairs to my bedroom and change into a completely new outfit (including shoes) in less than 60 seconds. I am proud to say I won that bet with ease! My Dad has always been a passionate man with sort of a "no-fear" attitude. At one point he owned a pro- hockey team the Indianapolis Ice, and is now an owner of a championship Indy Car team Panther Racing.
With my dad as my role model I grew up truly believing that anything was possible. And though I definitely share the "need for speed," I get my thrills from performing, which I am sure is a relief to my mom, my constant support!
I began dancing at the age of two. One of my earliest memories is acting in The Christmas Carol with my older brother when I was three. As I got older I became more and more serious about dance and theater. I started competing in national dance competitions winning thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes. Soon I had landed my first leading role as "Rosie" in Maurice Sendack's "Really Rosie" and in the midst of my first major photo shoot, I was certain my life was meant for the stage!
My childhood was anything but typical. I was constantly training studying, and working on my craft. I was a big fan of the Nike slogan "somewhere someone is practicing and when you meet them in competition they will beat you!" I was dancing nearly 40 hours a week by the age of 12. At that time I was focused on ballet, having just completed the lead role of "Clara" in the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre's production of The Nutcracker. Coincidently, my best friend and I were given the role at the same time! It was 100th anniversary of the Christmas classic, making our season extra special. The following Christmas I joined the cast of "A Yuletide Celebration" with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and began my professional career. After working through that year I chose to study for the summer with the Cleveland School of Ballet.
The next year was spent in intense training in dance, singing, and acting. I had planned on spending my summer with Ballet Aspen in Colorado, but my vocal coach had a better idea. She knew that I was interested in more than just dancing and suggested that I give New York a try. That way I could study all three disciplines.
Well, that did it for me! Off to NYC I went with my mom. For months I studied with famed choreographers and acting coaches and fell in love with the "greatest city in the world." The trips to NY became my summer routine usually capped off by studying a few weeks in Los Angeles at the end of the summer.
It wasn't long before choreographers and teachers began to notice me. One of those teachers, Richard Pierlon, had long been a judge of the Freiburg International Jazz Dance Competition, in Freiburg, Germany. He was impressed with my dancing and asked if I would be interested in assembling a team to represent the United States in the Competition. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. My teammates and I competed three consecutive years, winning the first two! We were the first Americans to defeat the defending champions from Berlin and Israel.
Another choreographer, Stepp Stewart, would bring me to Hawaii to perform for the Hula Bowl where I was named the Junior Dancer of the Year! By that time I had been all over the globe dancing. From New York, to Germany, to Los Angeles, to El Salvador, and back again. And I still wasn’t old enough to drive.
My high school life was quite unique. I would go to school for part of the day, and then leave to study as an apprentice for the modern dance company Dance Kaleidoscope. I did this for two years. The following two years I studied ballet at Butler University earning college credit.
Because of my love of the fast-paced life, and the obvious reasons…there was really no question in my mind that I would Attend New York University, and after I was offered a scholarship the deal was sealed. At University I worked with many notable actors, directors, and teachers. I also began my film career starring in The Story of a Girl and The Actresses, and as "Vera" in Children Just the Same, which was part of the 2002 Screenplay festival. Perhaps the most "interesting" experience was working with author James Rado on a revised version of his 60's rock musical Hair.
After graduating Cum Laude from NYU, I started my own production company, Pedigo Productions and produced my first off-Broadway show. Wendy MacLeods, The House of Yes.
After wrapping up that production I was given some opportunities in California and decided it was time to check out the other coast. So, now I split my time between NY and LA and I love it!