Shift Up Now Foundation Provides Broader Opportunities for Grantees in 2024

The Shift Up Now Foundation is proud to announce that four female racers - Laura Hayes, Loni Unser, Michele Abbate and Sabré Cook - have been awarded grants for the 2024 season.

The foundation, which lives alongside the Shift Up Now for-profit business, strives for gender equality for female athletes in motorsport, and furthers the mission by accepting tax-deductible gifts, donations and grants. Funds raised are used to award opportunities to racers believed to have the talent and aptitude to succeed in motorsports, giving them access to more competitive equipment, seat time for testing and practice, and resources to help grow their careers.

Laura Hayes will race in the 102nd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Thunder Bunny Racing. Driving the Mobil1 Toyota Supra GT4 EVO, Hayes’ grant funding will cover vehicle expenses and insuring her car for the event.

“I'm so honored to be a Shift Up Now Foundation grant recipient,” said Hayes. “Missing the hill climb last year was more painful than I'd anticipated, so I've been determined to make it back to Colorado. With the introduction of the new GT4 Division presented by Yokohama, I couldn't be more excited to pilot one of our Toyota Supra GT4's to 14,000 feet. I certainly wouldn't be able to pull this off without Shift Up Now's support. I'm very grateful!”

Loni Unser will pilot a full season in the Porsche Sprint Challenge driving a Cayman GT4 RS. Her grant funds will cover travel expenses for seven race weekends, plus her new-found exploration into stunt-driving.

“I am so grateful for Shift Up Now,” said Unser. “Without their help, I wouldn't have had nearly as many of the opportunities I have been afforded. By making the most of these opportunities I feel as though I am better able to use them to inspire others to do the same.”

Michele Abbate is currently committed to driving the No. 30 Ghost Energy car for eight (of 12) races in the TA2 category of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. Her grant funding will help her continue to compete with a top-tier team, Nitro Motorsports, in competitive equipment, which she believes is her best opportunity for success on track.

"I am incredibly grateful to be selected as a Shift Up Now Foundation grant recipient,” said Abbate. “Because without out the support - and help from my sponsors - I would have one less race on my 2024 schedule.”

Sabré Cook will pilot a 911 GT3 Cup (992) car in the Pro class for MDK Motorsports in the Porsche Carrera Cup North America series. Cook was a 2023 Shift Up Now Foundation grant recipient. After an accident at the end of last season kept her out of the car, funds were deferred to support her efforts in 2024.

"It means a lot to have the Shift Up Now Foundation grant me support for the 2024 season,” said Cook. “My 2023 was cut short after my massive crash at Indianapolis last year, so it's been really helpful that the Foundation has allowed me to transfer my grant to the 2024 season instead. Every penny makes a difference in my racing budget, so I'm thankful for the help the grant is providing, so I can keep racing and have better equipment when doing so.”

Fans can follow along with the Athletes’ schedules and results at ShiftUpNow.com. For more information about the Shift Up Now Foundation, or to donate, please visit www.ShiftUpNow.org.

Back-to-Back Points Finishes for Havrda at Nola SpeedTour

Shift Up Now Athlete Nicole Havrda kicked off the 2024 Formula Regional (FR) Americas Championship with P7 and P6 finishes at Nola Motorsports Park on April 12-14, 2024.

Testing and practice for the 15-car field took place on Thursday and Friday. Havrda maintained a top-ten pace throughout several sessions as she prepared for qualifying on Saturday.

Driving the No. 6 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsports car, with Ligier chassis and Honda engine, this is Havrda’s first-full season in the FR Americas Championship.

On Saturday morning, Havrda got up to speed quickly in the qualifying session. During the first flying laps of the day, she was inside the top five. Temperatures rose throughout the session, so as competitors found speed over the last few laps, Havrda dropped to a P9 qualifying spot. Still satisfied with a top-ten result, she was ready for race one.

Rounds one, two and three of the FR Americas Championship were 30 minutes, each with a standing start per Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) regulations. In addition, FIA races award points solely to the top ten finishers.

Starting from P9, Havrda had a solid start to race one, advancing to P8 early on. The remainder of the competition was mired by safety car periods and a red flag, the Canadian driver stayed clean and drove smart. She continued to show improving pace and earned a P7 finish at the checkered flag.

Race two began with a clean start from P7 for Havrda, based on her race-one finish. The first safety car came out at the end of the first lap, followed by several more, just like the day before. Havrda moved up to P6, and despite having to defend a few times after the restarts, maintained her position.

With just under five minutes to go, the race was red-flagged for a spun car. Race control aimed to give the field a final restart opportunity but later decided against it. Havrda’s P6 marked her second points finish of the weekend.

Race three saw Havrda starting from P6. Once again, the safety car came out at the end of the first lap. But after a clean restart, the field settled in for the longest green-flag run of the weekend. Havrda maintained her P6 position, holding off pressure from the seventh-place driver and repeating her weekend’s best lap times. Unfortunately, her oil pressure alarm went off with five minutes left in the race. She was forced to switch off and retire the car.

Despite the tough ending, Havrda was pleased with the weekend, and her potential for the rest of the championship season.

“Overall, it was a good start to the season,” said Havrda. “I focused on making consistent improvements throughout the weekend and finishing the races with no mistakes.

“Huge thank you to the Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport crew, and my amazing parents and the fans that were watching the race. My goal for our next event at Road America is a top-five finish, and my team and I will be working extra hard to achieve that.”

Next up, the FR Americas Championship series heads to Wisconsin for the Road America SpeedTour on May 16-19, 2024.

Victory for Greenemeier and Grisham at Sonoma

Shift Up Now Athletes Hannah Greenemeier and Hannah Grisham won the first Pirelli SRO GT4 America event of the year, and backed it up with a third-place podium finish, at Sonoma Raceway on April 5-7, 2024.

Piloting the No. 26 Heart of Racing car, the season opener would mark Greenemeier’s debut with the Heart of Racing team and her first-ever SRO GT4 race start. In advance of the race weekend, she was given some seat time with AE Victory Racing at Barber to build experience.

The Sonoma weekend would mark Greenemeier’s and Grisham’s debut as teammates. Grisham competed with the Heart of Racing team in the fall of 2022, after winning its highly-coveted shootout.

The race weekend got off to a rough start due to the newly-paved track breaking up in several areas. As a result, all testing on Thursday was canceled. The Sonoma Raceway crews worked hard to solve the issues and prepare the track in time for competition.

On Saturday, practice and qualifying were combined into one session for the GT4 America field. The No. 26 Heart of Racing team was 14th-fastest overall, and second in the AM class to set the grid for race one.

Greenemeier started the first race from P2 and maintained position for the entirety of her stint. Grisham took the wheel of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4, and made a late-race pass for the lead in turn nine. The victory marked Grisham’s third consecutive race win, after sweeping the weekend to close the 2023 season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Race two took place on Sunday with Grisham behind the wheel. Starting P4 in class, she advanced one position to P3 before the driver switch. Greenemeier was battling for the P2 spot when a full-course caution slowed the field. The remaining seven minutes of the race ran under yellow, and the Heart of Racing team crossed the finish line in P3.

“Overall, a really good weekend to start off the season,” said Grisham. “We came home with a win and a third-place finish today. Ultimately, really strong points for us to go after the championship. I think the weekend went almost as good as it could have gone.

“Thank you to everyone on the Heart of Racing Team for the opportunity to be back again. I’ve really enjoyed being paired up with Hannah (Greenemeier). She’s done a really amazing job and has gotten acquainted with this car very quickly. We’ll try to carry that momentum into Sebring.”

Greenemeier echoed the same sentiments, saying, “Another great day at Sonoma, ending with a P3 in class. Hannah (Grisham) had an amazing first stint, and she handed me the car in contention halfway through the race. From there, I was hunting down second place in our class - with first place just a few more seconds ahead - when the late race caution came out, and the race finished under double yellows. ‘The Grish’ and I had great pace all weekend. A podium and a win is the right way to kick off our championship.”

Greenemeier and Grisham will be back in action together for rounds three and four of the SRO GT America championship at Sebring International Raceway on May 3-5, 2024.

Pair of P2 Podium Finishes for Mann at Nordschleife

Shift Up Now Athlete Pippa Mann and her WS Racing Girls Only teammates earned back-to-back second-place finishes for rounds one and two of the Nurburgring Langstrecken-Serie (NLS) Championship at the Nurburgring Nordschleife on April 5-7, 2024.

Mann piloted the No. 146 Giti Tire BMW GT4, supported by ZF Motorsport and Motul Germany, alongside teammates Beitske Visser (driving Saturday and Sunday), Carrie Schreiner (Saturday), and Fabienne Wohlwend (Sunday). In addition to the driver lineup, the Girls Only team featured a crew of all-female mechanics and engineers.

Testing took place on Friday afternoon. The team’s goal was to get all four drivers on track during the 4.5-hour session on the 24.36-km NLS track layout. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mann was unable to turn laps, but her teammates worked to dial in the handling of the car, looking for both single-lap pace and full-stint performance.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session was damp and cold. After Visser turned one exploratory lap at the start of the session, the team determined the track conditions were still too wet for slicks, and they decided to wait for ten minutes for the grip to improve. Mann was next in the car, and hit the track for her first laps of the weekend. Despite several areas of the track still being wet, she ran lap times that put the team third in their SP8T class, and just below halfway in the GT4 field. After teammates Schreiner and Visser took the wheel, Visser qualified the Girls Only team third for the start of Saturday’s race on the drying race track. 

Race one, began at noon on Saturday, featuring a 110-car field with 15 GT4 cars and five in the SP8T class. Visser was behind the wheel first for the four-hour endurance race. She drove a strong first stint, however a fueling issue caused the team to pit slightly earlier than planned.

Mann took the wheel next for her first dry laps of the weekend on the famous “Green Hell” track. Because the team was off-sequence from the early pit stop, Mann had to re-pass several slower GT4 cars that had not stopped yet, and continued to advance through the field.

Due to an abundance of incidents, causing “slow zones” around the race track, she wasn’t able to drive a single full-green lap, however her pace looked good in the green sectors. Halfway through her stint, while slowing for a “Code 120 slow zone,” she was hit from behind, causing damage to the rear of the car, but not affecting her pace.

After Mann, Schreiner was next in the car to drive a double stint to finish the race. However the damage to the exhaust from the impact sustained in Mann’s stint caused an over-heating gearbox, and the team had to make an additional pit stop to address the issue.

Once she re-joined the race, despite being several minutes back, Schreiner started the charge to chase down P3. When a lead car suffered a tire puncture, the Girls Only team set their sights on P2. An error from the second placed car - speeding in one of the slow zones while under pressure from the closing Schreiner - promoted Mann’s team to second-in-class, and P9 overall in the GT4 class. Overall, they were happy with the pace but looking to dial in the handling on their Giti tires for a faster pace the following day.

Qualifying for race two took place on Sunday morning. Once again, Visser was first on track for a two-lap run, and set a qualifying time that was second-in-class and seventh overall. Mann took the wheel next and in one flying, sub-nine-minute lap, ran two seconds off the best time in her first full green flag lap of the weekend. Wohlwend was the final driver behind the wheel, but a brake-line issue meant she was unable to set a qualifying time.

Race two began at noon on Sunday. Wohlwend drove a strong first stint for the four-hour competition, moving the team up to P2 in class, and P2 overall in the GT4 field. Several GT4 cars - including the P1 competitor - pitted off-sequence, putting them on a different strategy than the Girls Only team.

Mann took the wheel next and caught the leader halfway through her stint. She stayed in its mirrors and forced an error, turning it into an over-under pass at Hohe Acht. The move temporarily advanced Mann’s team to the lead of the SP8T class, which she held through the duration of her stint.

Visser drove the final stint. After fueling during the team’s last scheduled stop, they were forced to hold in pit lane for 15 seconds to meet the minimum pit stop time for the race. Nevertheless, Visser left pit lane in P1.

Unfortunately, a puncture from morning qualifying left the team without a set of new tires, so Visser was left to compete on battle-worn tires without much grip. With two laps to go, the second-place car passed her, putting the Girls Only car P2 in the SP8T class, and P4 overall in GT4 at the checkered flag.

“This was a strong weekend to build on as we prepare for this year’s twenty-four hour race,” said Mann. “Our girls were fantastic at the pit stops. Having to wait through the fifteen seconds of the last pit stop was agonizing, but having that margin left to meet our minimum pit stop time shows how flawless our mechanics were.

“Our Giti Tire BMW M4 GT4 was fast this weekend. We still have a little pace to find as we continue to dial in the car setup for the tires and the ZF Motorsport damping. But all four drivers ran within five seconds of each other on the nine-minute lap, so we should be a strong team in June when we race for twenty-four hours. Personally, I’m very happy to have had this opportunity to get the seat time ahead of that race.

“I want to thank the team, my teammates, and all our sponsors for having me drive both days this weekend. It will be a big help to come back in June with this many laps already under my belt this season. And as for today, while we might have been on different strategies, getting to make a pass for the lead in class, and then stay there with the fastest GT4 car on track this weekend breathing down my neck for the rest of the stint was definitely my kind of fun!”

Visser, Schreiner and Wohlwend will return to Nordschleife next weekend for the 24h Qualifying Race. Mann will rejoin the Girls Only team for the 2024 ADAC Total Energies 24 Hour Race at the Nurburgring on June 1-2, 2024.