How Jamie Chadwick’s Historic Win is Changing the Motorsport Landscape

By Pippa Mann

Back when I was racing in Indy Lights, women who won in open wheel in America was “a thing.”

Simona de Silvestro was winning races in Atlantics. Ana Beatriz won her first Indy Lights race the year before I moved to the U.S. And Danica Patrick won the IndyCar race at Motegi.

When I won the pole for the Freedom 100 in 2010, I was the first female racer to ever win a pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I actually remember being irked at the time that people kept asking me how it felt to be a woman who won the pole.

I wanted to be a racer who won her first pole, and at a historic race track.

I won that pole wearing a red helmet in a white car. I had zero interest in anyone knowing there was a woman behind the wheel. Because despite the fact that I was surrounded by an incredible generation of winning women in open wheel, I thought the greatest sign of my success would be if no one knew my gender while I was in the cockpit.

I grew up in an era where women in racing had yet to reclaim the phrase, “Drive like a girl."

Last Sunday, IndyCar asked me to call in to the press conference after Jamie Chadwick’s win. At first, I was hesitant because the last thing I wanted to do was take away from her day. However, I was assured I would just come in at the end to congratulate her, so I agreed.

During the press conference, and just momentarily in Jamie’s voice, I sensed a little of the frustration I'd previously felt. She wanted to celebrate her win at Road America, first and foremost. She’s already a proven winner in other series. And now, Indy NXT - the top-level series below IndyCar - is getting to see what she’s made of.

Part of the frustration Jamie voiced was that it had been 15 years since I won, so that’s how long it’s been since the series had its last female winner. Just like me, she wants to see more women on the open wheel ladder series, having the opportunity to compete, and win races.

As I look back to 15 years ago, it felt like women in motorsport were on the cusp of something. Perhaps it seemed like there would be more of us with more opportunities. Or maybe normalizing “racing drivers” versus “female racing drivers.” It simply felt like the landscape was changing. And then it didn’t.

For 10 years, I fought to have enough funding to compete at the Indy 500. Along the way, I slowly learned that my gender had both positive and negative impacts upon my career.

When I succeeded, I was not just another driver.

When I failed, I was not just another driver.

When I was trying to find the funding to compete, I was not just another driver.

I’ve always had a goal of driving change within my sport, but it wasn’t until I realized that that would require hard work, collaboration and sticking my head above the proverbial parapet.

I believe that with equal opportunity, and funding, men and women can compete as equals in motorsport. And if that’s the case, and I believe that the race car doesn’t know, then why should I be ashamed of being identified as a female race car driver?

I also believe in the saying, “If she can see her, she can be her." So after 15 years, the momentum of that 2010 win has been slowly fizzling out. Sure, I’ve run the Indy 500 seven times and I’m incredibly grateful for every single opportunity. But showing up to one race per year, without substantial funding or testing time, I’ve had to rely on the grace of team owners to reach into their pockets and help me make up budget shortfalls. Despite their generosity, I’m sure they’d agree that it’s simply harder for the smaller teams to do it without a huge budget, collection of sponsorships and adequate seat time.

For so long, I thought this was a “Pippa problem.” Maybe if I could find a way to be faster or do better with the equipment I had... Perhaps if I had a fancier marketing deck or get more sponsors lined up... Or what if my engineers would provide more endorsements about my driving abilities? The endless “what ifs” never stopped.

As I grew into an older, wiser human, I started to realize this was a global problem affecting so many women in motorsport. And in this pay-to-play industry, so many talented women were stalling due to the lack of partners willing to help support female athletes.

Collectively, we’ve seen other one-off programs succeed, and even expand beyond the Indy 500. So the frustration only grows.

Ultimately, this is the reason that Shift Up Now is so incredibly important to me. It’s why I give up so many hours to run this organization (alongside Erin Vogel). Currently, we’re still a small company, bringing associate-level sponsorships and social media deals to our racers. But we’re working incredibly hard to help our Athletes close the funding gap, giving them opportunities to compete and win.

One day, I want Shift Up Now to be big enough to support racers like Jamie, and others like her on the open wheel ladders. Fifteen years between winners is too long. But on this day, the buzz around Jamie and her win makes it feel like the cusp of this dream has returned.

The inspiring part about Jamie’s win is that, not only is she a talented racer, but her record and pedigree come with brand and name recognition. She’s winning at a time when motorsport finally seems to have the desire and appetite to help uplift winning women. Brands finally seem ready to make commitments for helping to keep winning women in race cars.

I could not be more thrilled to see Jamie winning, and to watch the fifteen-year stretch finally come to an end. Perhaps this time we can break the next barriers too, witnessing more brands step up to help Jamie keep climbing to the top, and supporting more talented female racers in all areas of motorsport.


Pippa Mann is the CEO of Shift Up Now, and Vice Chair of the Shift Up Now Foundation. She has a firm belief that when we fund men and women equally in motorsport, we give them the opportunity to compete as equals. Since 2021, Shift Up Now and the Shift Up Now Foundation have helped female athletes in motorsport with 3⁄4 of a million dollars of sponsorship to help close the funding gap.

You can get involved with Shift Up Now wither by becoming a Member of the Inside Track, or through a donation to our 501c3. If you are a brand who would like to help us support and elevate women in motorsport, we would love to hear from you.

Contact us here.

AE Victory Racing, a Founder’s Story

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.

Playin’ in the Dirt at the DirtFish Women in Motorsport Summit

By Michele Abbate

On Saturday, March 2nd, I had the honor of being one of the panelists at the DirtFish Women in Motorsport Summit in Snoqualmie, WA. The event exceeded all my expectations, and despite some dreary weather, the enthusiasm of the attendees was through the roof!

The other summit panelists included legend Michele Mouton, Becs Williams, Pernilla Solberg, Vanessa Ruck and Jndia Erbacher.

On the morning of the summit, we arrived at the DirtFish Rally School to find an impressive display of rally cars, both historic and modern, purpose-built. There was even a Subaru with a Ferrari power-plant!

In between the two panels scheduled that day, participants could check out the vendors and attend informative and interactive sessions as well. The mission to empower women was clear everywhere I turned. There were women-owned businesses there, like a food truck, and a female DJ, too!

In addition to the panels, DirtFish also hosted a women’s mechanic workshop. Five female mechanics were there helping attendees get under the hood of the cars and experience what it’s like to work on them.

During our panel, the various motorsports backgrounds and disciplines among the panelists made it such a pleasure to be part of the lively conversation. We got to interact with the audience through Q&A sessions and learn about their interests.

One of my favorite parts of these type of events is connecting with participants. It’s fun to hear their stories and offer help to fuel their dreams in the sport.

The following day, after the summit was over, Vanessa Ruck and I were given the amazing opportunity to experience a private, half-day school in one of DirtFish’s rally-prepped Subaru BRZ cars. This was my first time taking to the dirt in a RWD car. But having won a championship in the Toyota 86 back in 2015, it was in a platform and power-plant that I was very familiar with.

I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel and develop some new skills on the dirt. Michelle Miller was my instructor. She made it incredibly easy to learn to trust the car, and help me apply many of the techniques that she had demonstrated to us in the classroom.

DirtFish offers several all-encompassing programs designed to take you from the classroom to the rally course. Having skilled professionals who know the compound like the back of their hand takes the guesswork out, and the real-time feedback is truly invaluable.

Personally, I learned that being able to trust the direction and verbal cues allowed me to maximize my time there. I was very thankful that this communication came naturally between Michelle and I. It helped me focus on the specifics of her coaching without ever having to explain my inputs, and reasoning for them. She understood, guiding me to adjust and improve with each lap. It was truly a rewarding experience that had me wanting to come back before we had even left!

One of my favorite things about the DirtFish Rally School is that it’s beneficial for all levels of driving experience. From brand-new to champion, everyone will leave with something new in their driving-skills toolbox.

In addition, DirtFish is unwavering in its support for women in motorsports. This was obvious to me in everything from its history to the warm welcomes, and through everyone on staff. And as if that wasn’t enough, DirtFish announced during the Women in Motorsports Summit that it’s launching a women’s initiative scholarship! More details will be announced in the coming months.

Looking back, it was so cool to be even a small part of this huge event. I’m very grateful to Shift Up Now and DirtFish for allowing me this opportunity. Perhaps you’ll see me back in the dirt sometime soon? Only time will tell...

____________________________

DirtFish is a Corporate Member of the Inside Track by Shift Up Now, and our Members get 10% off their entry level Rally Schools. Make sure you log in to your Member dashboard or email Membership@shiftupnow.com to unlock your Member discount.

You can also see photos from Michele's time at DirtFish here, and learn more their Women In Motorsport Summit that Michele attended here.

She Always Prefers The Driver's Seat

By Ariel Ream

There's no better day than the Sunday before Memorial Day. Every year on race day, I wake up like a little kid on Christmas. I hurry my husband out of bed at 5:00am so we can beat traffic and get a great parking spot (one that allows us to get out of the Speedway and home in 20 minutes at the end of the day). And every year, I carry the same bag that my husband gifted to me ages ago. The bag, a Kate Spade stunner, depicts a red, open-wheeled race car and a driver. A female driver. And printed on the bag are the empowering words, "She always prefers the driver's seat."

The irony in carrying this particular bag to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing - The Indianapolis 500 - is that it’s rare to see a woman in the driver’s seat, and even more rare to find one that has a full-time ride in IndyCar.

Less than ten women have competed in the Indy 500, a few of which include Pippa Mann, Simona de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz Figueredo and Katherine Legge. The last full season ride occupied by a female racer in IndyCar was Simona de Silvestro in 2013. Since then, women like Danica Patrick, Pippa Mann, and - most recently - Tatiana Calderón have only managed to put together partial seasons or one race deals for the Indy 500. If we look beyond IndyCar, the theme is the same. Women are constantly left behind. I want to change that, and the time for change is now.

I grew up in Bloomington, IN. My dad loved anything at a racetrack with an engine. On Friday nights, he'd take us down to the Bloomington Speedway (which our extended family owned for a short period) to watch good old-fashioned dirt racing.

Every May, I missed school because he was hellbent on taking me to see the racing at IMS. My father instilled the spirit of racing and competition in me. I have quite a few memories of walking through Gasoline Alley with him, telling him that I wanted to race there someday. He always encouraged me to go for it, never implying that racing was a 'boy sport.’ He was a true “girl-dad,” never allowing gender to get in the way of my dreams.

As I grew up, I started to realize that seeing women on a racetrack was, and would continue to be, incredibly rare. It wasn't just at Indy, but every single series and type of motorsport. The sad (and dishearteningly old-fashioned) part is that it's still rare. While it's just slightly less unusual than it was when I was growing up, or back when my father fell in love with the sport, it is still newsworthy when women get the shot that they deserve. But in a woman’s case, the PR is rarely as focused on the talent of the driver as it is on her gender. And while this may be a controversial opinion, it seems that positive press for the team or series is the priority for the announcement.

All of this brings me to my new role as Interim CEO with the Shift Up Now Foundation.

I met Pippa Mann one day while she was outrunning me on a treadmill at our gym. After complimenting her badassery, we started chatting about Shift Up Now and the exciting things she was planning, one of which was a non-profit arm of the organization. I was all in.

I am passionate about motorsport, and you won’t hear the end of it if you get me talking about giving women the chances they deserve.

My own background is in business development, specifically in tech. As you can probably imagine, it’s another industry where women struggle for recognition and opportunity. I have experienced gender discrimination on several occasions. I've been told I’m being bossy when I’m simply being straightforward. I’ve been passed over for promotions only to see younger, less-experienced men get placed into roles I was promised. And I’ve had male bosses say things to me like, “Your face looks aloof and annoyed, you should fix that." Maybe it’s not women’s faces that need fixing.

Quite simply, we deserve better. Not because we want what men have made themselves entitled to. Rather, we deserve better because we are just as good, and in some cases better, than the men we work beside. And now we have the data to prove it.

In a study done by Wassermann entitled ‘The New Economy of Sports,’ the numbers show that female athletes, on average, earn twenty-one times less than their male counterparts, and rely on endorsements and sponsorships twice as much as their male counterparts do. The data from the same study showed that while 90% of partnership dollars in professional sports are directed towards men, it is female athletes who are better at reaching intended audiences and impacting revenue. In fact, female athletes generate double the social media engagement of male athletes. Data showed that fans of female athletes are 54% more aware of her sponsors and partners, and 45% more likely to consider a purchase from those brands. Smart companies are beginning to understand that elevating and supporting women, and female athletes, is great for their brand and profits.

So, when I get the opportunity to tell people about my work with Shift Up Now, I tell them about our incredible female athletes and their stories. I tell them that we had not one, but two Champions during the 2023 season. I talk about how all our Athletes are winning races, competing for podiums, and posting top ten points finishes in some of the most competitive series in the U.S. And they’re outranking many of their male peers.

I talk about Erin Vogel, the President of Shift Up Now, who not only runs our corporate side of the house, but also owns and manages a racing team. Her team helps keep talented female racers behind the wheel of a race car when they don’t have the funding elsewhere.

I tell them about Ashley Freiberg, who, despite winning a Championship in 2023, is struggling to build the sponsorship support to race in 2024. The travel for her racing career prevents her from being able to keep up a “normal” job, and she has to take other work wherever she can find it. These women are out there doing it all, and they have earned the right to sit at the table of equal funding and support.

I hope that as Interim CEO, I can create positive impact for women in motorsport. I want to use my voice, passions and skills to not only drive donations that will allow us to write more grants, but also to share the mission loudly, helping everyone understand why this work is so important.

Serena Williams once said, "Every woman's success should be an inspiration to another. We’re stronger when we cheer each other on." It is my honor to cheer on my fellow Shift Up Now women, and to lead a team that is working to elevate all women in motorsport, through funding women into professional racing programs in the most competitive series in motorsports.

Maybe one day soon, when I take my son Harrison to his first Indy 500, the bag that I carry won't convey a dream. It'll be an image that reflects the new normal. Because she will be in the driver's seat.

I hope you'll join me on this incredible journey. Donate today to change the face of motorsport for the better.


You can donate to the Shift Up Now Foundation here, or you can become a member of The Inside Track by Shift Up Now here for $100 per year here.