AE Victory Racing, a Founder’s Story

May 23, 2024

By Erin Vogel

As so many great ideas do, my race team, AE Victory Racing, began as an idea on a napkin in a coffee shop almost one year ago.

It was an idea drawn up by a group of women who wondered whether there might be a way to create a home for themselves – a racing team that gave women a voice, where their insights and opinions were valued and prioritized, and where their success was put first. A team where women were given opportunities to learn, to perform at their best, and where their understanding and decision making was not only respected as relevant, but expected as necessary to the success of the effort.

As the idea started coming to fruition, I was incredibly fortunate to have my partner stand beside me as a male ally, sharing knowledge and expertise, and helping me bring the female-forward racing team dream to life. So A(aron)E(rin) Victory Racing was born.

Let’s backtrack for a moment…

From a very early age, I have wanted to elevate women, bridging the gap between gender and abilities, between appearance and reality. I was only four years old when I realized that expectations were different depending on some arbitrary anatomical parts. This struck me as bizarre because, at that age, not much else looked different to me. Not much was different in our wants, needs, or behavior.

From that point on, I sought out ways to excel, embracing both femininity and feminism, seeking to balance “masculine” qualities with feminine sensibilities. It’s an been a difficult internal effort to find and maintain that balance, and each new challenge shows me where I’m still lacking.

My greatest hope in life is that my struggle does not have to be the struggle of future generations. I hope that young girls and women who follow in my footsteps find an it's an easier track to navigate. I hope that they will be empowered in that balance, and given more (and better) opportunities with less judgement and uncertainty. I hope that whatever small splash I can make will ripple out to touch the lives of many others.

Today, there is still a lot of work to do towards that goal. The way I see myself achieving it is to give a handful of women the opportunity to drive a well-prepared car and get quality seat time without the worry of the financial burden. I hope to provide them a place to learn from those with more experience. I envision them learning how to drive and race better, adapt more quickly, give feedback and understand a race car on a more intimate level. I would like to be able to help them earn the same living as the male drivers in the sport do.

I rarely talk about the resources I have, resources that aren't as prevalent for women in the racing world as they are for men - I’m backed by a successful business. In the past few years, I've used those resources to learn first-hand about the ins and outs of this industry. I’ve seen both its potential to lift women up to the highest levels of coed competition, and the resistance to doing so. As a result, I’m proud to be among those that can and will share my resources to lift other women up alongside me. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that my resources alone aren’t enough.

Racing is an incredibly equipment-intensive sport, and because of that it can get expensive quickly. The cost of even just showing up is significant, and being competitive can almost be prohibitive in many cases. But I’ve learned that, in order to make a difference, it has to be done. And the more money and resources at your disposal, the quicker it can be done.

However, if those resources need to be conserved and meted out over time, progress will likely be proportionate. That can be a tough pill to swallow! When I stepped into my new (and not entirely anticipated) role as owner of a racing team, I really wanted to be perfect right out of the box. I thought all I had to do was check all the right boxes and avoid all the common pitfalls.

So for more than two months, I worked sixteen-hour days, balancing the team, my "real job", working with Pippa on Shift Up Now, and traveling for networking and events. I learned who to talk to about parts, how to order parts, which parts would work for us, and which would not. I called on my network to help with parts and people, figuring out the logistics of this whole carnival - how to herd goats and where to herd them.

Fast forward six months and we're back to today. We’re still working to understand the car, the tires, and how the two work together. We’re making steady progress. And while I want to be frustrated that we’re not more competitive yet, I’m also proud that we’ve finished every race we’ve started.

Even the days that we weren’t really in the race we found ways to learn and progress. And oddly enough, I’m actually grateful that it hasn’t been easy, because we’re learning so much in every direction. This will only make us a better team with a better product and better chances of achieving what we set out to do.

One day I would like to see my team have the skill and experience to compete at the biggest sports car races in the world. I aspire to have that level of program, to be able to provide those opportunities by finding other successful women to partner with, who believe in putting their resources towards something from which the returns speak to more than just a bottom line.

I can’t imagine doing this without all the help I’ve had and I’m so grateful for my network. If you’ve had a part in helping us get our feet off the ground the past six months, or if you’ve worked with me in racing at all over the past decade, I offer my sincerest thanks. And most especially, thank you to my partner Aaron, our incredible crew, and my Shift Up Now sisters.

We’re working toward something that matters and that makes a difference. More than anything, I hope that transformation in the sport will expand and know no bounds, until the expectations based on arbitrary things aren’t so very different at all.

Make sure you follow AE Victory Racing's story at @ae.victory_racing on Instagram, and if you want to be part of helping us drive change here at Shift Up Now, you can either become a Member, or donate to our 501c3 the Shift Up Now Foundation.

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