McNulty Earns Back-to-Back Fourth-Place Finishes at Sebring

Shift Up Now Athlete Sally McNulty earned two consecutive fourth-place finishes in the TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School series at Sebring International Raceway on September 22-24, 2023.

Practice began early on Friday morning under sunny, clear skies. Running consistently within two seconds of her teammate and team owner at Genracer/Ricca Autosport, McNulty quickly got into her groove in the No. 780 Hyundai Veloster N race car. And keeping consistent with her pace all season, she ran solidly in the top five throughout Friday’s sessions.

On Saturday, the TC class took advantage of the cooler morning temperatures for qualifying. After a clean run, McNulty landed fifth on the time sheet for the start of race one.

Just over three hours later, the green flag flew on Saturday afternoon for the weekend’s first 40-minute race. Despite losing a position at the starting line, McNulty was ready for the fight to regain it. However, an early caution put the Bell Techlogix athlete’s charge on hold.

The double yellow stretched out for an extended period of time and the field continued to circle the track behind the pace car. The race finally resumed with only ten minutes remaining on the clock.

At the restart, McNulty jumped the car ahead and the pair duked it out throughout the first lap. By the time they reached the start/finish line, McNulty had won the battle to run in the fourth place spot.

She quickly put a gap between her and fifth place, and spent the final seven minutes hunting for that last step on the podium. In the end, she crossed the line just three-quarters of a second behind P3.

On Sunday, McNulty’s fast lap from race one gave her a fourth-place spot on the starting grid for race two. At the green flag, she fell back a couple of spots and tucked in just behind the sixth-place car going into the first turn. Before the field could spread out too much, she gained a position back and continued to focus forward. Within the first ten minutes, McNulty was in podium position, running third in class.

Then, with just over half the race left, a competitor on the charge from the back of the field caught McNulty. The two battled it out briefly and in the end her competitor moved into the P3 spot.

Nearing the finish, the TC class field became spread out by multiple seconds. The final minutes of competition became a race against out-of-class traffic, with the goal of steering clear of other battles in the TCX and TCA classes.

When the checkered flag fell, McNulty brought home her second consecutive fourth-place finish, showing strength and consistency toward the TC championship.

“Sebring was fun and I’m looking forward to Indy for the final event,” said McNulty. “Hopefully we can bring home the manufacturers championship for Hyundai!”

McNulty will contest the final races of the 2023 season during the TC America season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 5-8, 2023.

Shift Up Now Foundation Awards First-Ever Sponsorship Grants

Indianapolis, IN – September 20, 2023 – The Shift Up Now Foundation is proud to announce that seven female racers, including six Shift Up Now Athletes, will be the recipients of the first ever sponsorship grants from the organization.

In August, the Shift Up Now Foundation launched its first official fundraising campaign. The “40 for 40” campaign was aimed at raising $40,000 in celebration of President Pippa Mann’s 40th birthday. It surpassed expectations and allowed the foundation’s executive committee to
discuss distribution of the funding.

In combination with outside donations, available grant funding totaled nearly $60,000. The committee met to choose from an abundance of applications from deserving female racers. Following the meeting, it was decided that six grants would be awarded for current Shift Up Now Athletes, plus one for a developing racer to close out her 2023 racing program.

“We are thrilled by the generosity of our fans, friends, and the racing community at large,” said Mann. “To have our first campaign exceed its goal and allow us to fund even more racers than we expected gives us faith that our visibility is growing, and that our work is having a positive impact on motorsports.”

The seven Athletes chosen include Sabre Cook, Sarah Montgomery, Michele Abbate, Ashley Freiberg, Amber Balcaen, Kelsey Rowlings and Heather Hadley.

Cook, who won the Kellymoss shootout last fall to earn a full-season seat for 2023, was the first grant recipient. She has worked tirelessly this season to bring on new sponsors, and proven that she can both activate and deliver for them.

Montgomery was chosen as the second grant recipient. She was part of an all-female team of drivers in the World Racing League GTO class for the first half of the 2023 season, and will use the grant funds to secure a seat in this year’s season finale.

Abbate received the third sponsorship grant. Earlier this year, she was involved in an accident due to equipment failure which set her program back financially. She has worked hard to return to competition after only eight weeks. Her professionalism and work ethic continues to impress at Shift Up Now.

Freiberg, the fourth grant recipient, is in the midst of an outstanding 2023 season so far. Her grant will cover the costs of her season finale race in the Porsche Sprint Challenge 991.2 class with MDK Motorsports.

Balcaen received the fifth sponsorship grant. The Canadian driver consistently shows frontrunning pace, and the funding will allow her to spend extra seat time testing this fall in the lead-up to her 2024 season.

Rowlings received the sixth grant as the final current Shift Up Now Athlete. She’s the longestcompeting female driver in Formula Drift history, and will use the grant funds for her final Formula Drift event, as well as the Gridlife Invitational Exhibition and SEMA Exhibition.

The recipient of the seventh and final sponsorship grant is currently not a Shift Up Now Athlete. In living up to its mission to promote more women into the top echelons of motorsports, the Shift Up Now executive committee recognizes the importance of helping to fund not only female racers with proven track records, but also young up-and-coming female racers.

Hadley competes in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, where she has already earned two top-ten finishes in her rookie season. She will use the funds for her final 2023 race of the 2023 season at Road Atlanta.

The Shift Up Now Foundation is proud to be able to grant funds to these seven female racers in its first year of operation.

“On behalf of the entire Shift Up Now Foundation executive committee, we want to thank everyone involved,” said Mann. “Special thanks to all of our donors, and to everyone who took the time to share the 40 for 40 Campaign to their professional and social networks. Without you, our loyal fans, friends, and supporters, we wouldn’t have achieved this success. We look forward to a bright future of funding female racers.”

For more information or to donate, please visit

Michele Abbate Returns to Racing with Personal Best Finish at Watkins Glen

Shift Up Now Athlete Michele Abbate earned her best result of the season so far, finishing 12th in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series at Watkins Glen International Raceway on September 8-10, 2023.

After nearly eight weeks of being unable to compete, Abbate’s return to racing was highly anticipated. The Las Vegas native suffered a brake failure earlier in the season at Road America, resulting in a right-ankle injury that required surgery. She was fitted with a custom articulating brace to allow her to race while her injuries continue to heal.

Just ahead of the Watkins Glen event, Abbate was cleared to return to competition.

Driving for her new team, Nitro Motorsports, and getting familiar with her new chassis, she was eager to get back on track.

The TA2 team had a less-than-ideal start to the weekend when a competitor blew out a motor on the out-lap of the first test session. This covered the track in oil, forcing all competitors to return to the pits without turning any laps. However, the second test session did afford Abbate and the rest of the field the chance to run some laps.

Weather played a factor for the first official practice, but being a fan of driving in the rain, Abbate was undaunted. Her bright yellow Ghost Energy / Lucas Oil entry ran halfway up the field in P22. This session later proved to be crucial, as qualifying was canceled later that afternoon due to heavy rain and fog. As a result, practice times set the field, giving Abbate her best starting position of the season so far.

On Sunday, another storm passed over the 3.450-mile, 11-turn racetrack before the Trans Am TA2 cars went to grid. Half of the 38-car TA field took on the damp track on slicks, while Abbate and the other half elected for wet tires.

As the field came to the green flag, Abbate’s bright yellow Ghost Energy livery stood out and she got to work charging toward the top 15. Her progress was halted when the first full-course caution flew on lap six, and she was one of many competitors who took the opportunity for a pit stop.

Due to the rarity of Trans Am TA2 pit stops, drivers were queued for service. Therefore, it was a race against time to get Abbate back on track without losing a lap. She rejoined the field in P33.

When the race returned to green, she set to marching her way forward again. She was able to make passes and stay out of trouble on the slippery track. Cautions continued to fly as competitors came together on track.

A final, late-race restart gave Abbate one final chance to advance, and she crossed the finish line in P14. After post-race penalties were assessed, she was awarded P12. This would be her best finish of the season so far, and matched her personal best series to date.

“I am so proud of our results this weekend at the Glen,” said Abbate. “It feels really good to have a strong showing after being out of the seat for so long. This has boosted my confidence even more and I’m truly excited to see how we can keep improving as we finish out the 2023 season with Nitro Motorsports!”

The Trans Am National Tour TA2 Series returns to action in two weeks, where Abbate will compete at World Wide Technology Raceway on September 22-24, 2023.

Freiberg Sweeps Weekend with Two Victories at Circuit of the Americas

Shift Up Now Athlete Ashley Freiberg earned back-to-back victories to extend her Porsche
Sprint Challenge championship lead at Circuit of the Americas on August 26-27, 2023.

The penultimate event of the season featured both the Porsche Sprint Challenge North
American Championship and with the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West Championship. Not
only would traffic be a factor with the biggest field of the season, so would the weather.
Record-setting temperatures soared to more than 100 degrees every day.

During practice on Friday, Freiberg – who was still slightly under the weather after the last race
at Road America – noted the importance of setting an early qualifying time in her Shift Up Now
liveried Porsche Cup car, after tires began to suffer from the extreme heat. The top of the
timesheets were tight, and the MDK Motorsports team focused on finding a qualifying setup,
along with one that would allow the Yokohama tires to perform for the race distance.

Qualifying took place on Saturday morning and Freiberg made a statement on her very first
flying lap. She immediately went to the provisional pole in the North American Championship
class, and outside of the front row overall. At the end of the session, a USA West
Championship competitor edged out her time by just two-tenths of a second to take the
overall pole.

On Saturday afternoon, under an ambient temperature of 110 degrees, the green flag fell for
the first, 35-minute race on the 2.3-mile, 19-turn racetrack. The field of 991 and Cayman race
cars left the start/finish line heading toward turn one, a turn that’s notorious for the funnel
effect with a wide entry and narrower apex.

Freiberg’s MDK Motorsports entry suffered a significant bump to the rear. As she exited the
turn – still in second place – she had to work to control the counter-steering and loss of
momentum needed to correct the slide. She was still leading in the North American
Championship race, but the overall leader pulled the gap.

Undeterred, Freiberg settled in, showed patience and continued to exert pressure. At one
point, she was running side-by-side with the leader. Between the exit of turn one and the run
down to turn two, she came close to making an over-under move before tucking back in. A fullcourse caution for a Cayman accident then interrupted the race, and brought the entire field
back together for a single-file restart.

With 20 minutes to go, Freiberg was in the leaders’ mirrors. A pop to the inside of turn one
forced an error from the P1 car, who ran a little wide and opened the door. Freiberg didn’t
hesitate and never looked back, extending her lead to eight seconds by the checkered flag.

On Sunday, an earlier start time meant cooler temperatures for the second, 35-minute race of
the weekend. Freiberg was starting third overall and second in class, based on her lap time
from race one. She held position through a dramatic start and kept pressure on the leader
through the first five minutes until a full-course caution fell.

Green-flag racing resumed with approximately 20 minutes remaining. Trapped behind the class
leader but with a clear pace advantage, Freiberg watched the overall leader begin to drive
away from the rest of the field. Three laps later, she made a bold move in turn eight, passing
on the outside in one of the tightest and most challenging turns on the racetrack, to gain the
inside at turn nine.

Freiberg quickly put distance between herself and the second-place car, then set her sights on
the overall leader. As the field approached the final five laps, she had trimmed the gap from
three seconds to just under one. When the leader’s car ran wide in turn 12, she made up the
remaining distance.

With just two laps to go, she made a definitive move to the inside of turn one, but wasn’t able
to gain the advantage or get alongside again that lap. As the white flag waved, she tried again
but to no avail. With no time to spare, she gained the advantage one final time leaving turn 11
and was able to stay in the draft down the lengthy back straight into turn 12. Neither driver
backed out. The two cars stayed side-by-side through the next four turns, exchanging the
advantage and swapping inside and outside lines.

As they rounded the carousel, Freiberg’s strategy paid off when she had the inside advantage.
Her competitor was forced to drive offline, allowing her to to surge into the lead. She then took
the final two corners and crossed the finish line, sweeping the overall win in both races.

“What a weekend,” Freiberg exclaimed. “Leaving this weekend with two wins means so much
more than the trophies. Personally, I’ve been fighting a sickness and the heat was so extreme,
and my crew was also fighting a sickness in this heat that was really putting us to the test.

“After Road America, we put our heads down and put in the work, cutting out all distractions,
working together as a team, and it all came together right at the end. I really can’t say enough
about the tenacity, hard-working nature, and support of the entire MDK Motorsports crew, the
support from my sponsors, Yokohama Tire, Shift Up Now, Bell Helmets, Trak Racer, my friends,
family, and my husband. Looking forward to the last round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge
season at Indy in October!”

Freiberg will look to clinch a championship at the season finale of the Porsche Sprint Challenge
North America, taking place at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 6-8, 2023.

Shift Up Now, Inc. Names Erin Vogel as President

Shift Up Now, Inc. is proud to announce that, as a result of the organization’s growth and success, Erin Vogel will join the management team as President.

Vogel is no stranger to success, both on and off the race track. Despite not racing competitively until she was in her 30s, Vogel wasted no time building accolades once she got behind the wheel. She’s a race winner in the Pro-Am class of GT World Challenge America, and became the first woman ever to win in the SRO Series globally. She’s also a race winner in the World Racing League (WRL) GP1 class with Shift Up Now Athletes Loni Unser and Sabre Cook.

Off the track, Vogel has always been drawn to forward-facing roles in positions of leadership and mentorship. She attended Mount Holyoke College, where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in English and Music. While in school, she served as an officer for the Tau Beta Sigma service club and volunteered as a student leader on the UMMB Field Staff.

Post-graduation, Vogel spent a year working in property management. She then returned to school to pursue a degree in Interior Design. During that time, and in years following, she worked for various design firms. Her drive and desire to improve helped her rise quickly to projects with major clients like Disney, UCLA and Kaiser Permanente.

In late 2013, she was promoted to Vice President for her family’s companies, Vogel Properties and Vogel Engineers. Her roles include managing sales and acquisitions, financing and bank relationships, and people and benefits. She’s also in charge of negotiation of leases and other legal contracts.

Also in 2013, Erin first volunteered for the Audi Club of Southern California’s HPDE Committee. She has since fulfilled many roles there, from organizing event registration to being a First Timer Advocate. She eventually moved into the role of Novice and Intermediate Classroom Instructor, and more recently, spearheaded an MSF Level 2 Instructor Clinic.

It was 2014 when Erin obtained her competition racing license, and has since earned over twenty career podiums, four of which were at the professional level, as well as one driver’s championship.

When asked about accepting the position of Shift Up Now President, Vogel said she has always been determined to leave behind a legacy of promoting women in whatever they’re capable of doing. And particularly when those dreams go against the arbitrary norms established by society.

“Shift Up Now fits my personal mission statement perfectly,” she said. “It’s the opportunity I’ve always hoped for to make a real and lasting difference in the fight for gender inclusion and equality of opportunity for women. I’m very proud, excited and honored by this opportunity to help grow an organization that is making a difference in the careers of female athletes, and to see those athletes continue to rise to greater and greater success in time.”

Shift Up Now CEO Pippa Mann echoed Vogel’s excitement.

“I’m thrilled to have Erin join me as one of the key management team members of Shift Up Now,” said Mann. “This was an incredibly important step as we continue to grow, and work towards our goals of being able to provide funding and opportunities for talented female athletes in motorsport.

“We’re so incredibly fortunate to have someone as passionate and accomplished as Erin be part of our management team, and I’m so thankful she accepted the role of President. Her experience on both the business side and the professional motorsports side will prove to be invaluable. Together, we plan to continue to drive change in our sport, both now and for future generations.”