Podium Weekend for Grisham and Unser at Road Atlanta

Shift Up Now Athletes Hannah Grisham, Loni Unser and Sarah Montgomery competed for Round 3 Racing in the World Racing League (WRL) competition on July 17-18, 2021 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Grisham drove a stint on Saturday in the No. 605 Hagerty Drivers Club Porsche Boxster, filling in for Cole Loftsgard, who was driving the GTO No. 702 car. The car would go on to win both Saturday’s and Sunday’s race in the GP3 class, making it 4 wins in a row for Team Hagerty Drivers Club.

“Road Atlanta is right in my backyard,” said Grisham, “and even though the new 601 wasn’t ready in time for this past weekend’s race, I still went to support the team.

“On Saturday, I ended up getting to race, filling in for Cole [Loftsgard]. We ended up winning in the GP3 class and getting 17th overall in the 605 Hagerty Round 3 Racing Porsche Boxster.

“Overall, I’m very thankful for the everyone on the R3R team and the extensive work they’ve continuously put into this. It was a great weekend and I can’t wait to be back for VIR in September.”

On Saturday, early contact with a competitor sent the No. 701 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Cayman to the paddock for repairs, which lasted nearly 90 minutes. Despite the adversity, the team of Loni Unser, Mo Dadkhah and Mike Gilbert fought back to finish P5.

Looking for redemption on Sunday, Unser started second and again fought through early adversity. A wheel sensor issue resulted in a loss of the ABS system, but Unser maintained position before handing the wheel to Dadkhah for the second stint.

The trio continued to share seat time for the remainder of the race, and the team effort resulted a third-place finish and their first podium since joining the GP1 class.

“Finishing third was a really cool way to end a weekend full of challenges,” said Unser. “After battling with some mechanicals on Saturday, the team fought hard and it felt incredible to walk away with a P3 finish. I’m grateful for a team that never gives up and I’m lucky to have Mo and Mike as teammates. The three of us have each other’s back, no matter what happens. Some of the race weekends where we have to fight tooth-and-nail end up being the most rewarding ones. We can’t wait to bring this momentum to VIR.”

Montgomery spent most of Saturday’s race in the top five, even leading at one point in the No. 702 Team Hagerty Porsche Cayman in the GTO class with teammates Brad McCall and Buz McCall.  Ultimately, a mechanical issue caused a fire and retired the trio for the weekend.

Round 3 Racing will be at Virginia International Raceway on September 17-19, 2021 for the next two eight-hour endurance races of the WRL season.

First Series Points for Chambers in F4 Mid-Ohio Weekend

Shift Up Now Athletes Chloe Chambers and Emily Linscott competed in rounds seven, eight and nine of the F4 United States Championship on June 25-27, 2021 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the third event of the season.

Qualifying for the first race was rained out, putting the 27 entries on the starting grid in order based on their championship points.

Chambers, driving the No. 8 for Future Star Racing and Wings & Wheels Foundation, started 19th. When the green flag dropped, speed and skilled overtaking allowed her to advance to a P10 finish and earn her first points of the season.

“It feels like my first points finish has been a long time coming,” said Chambers. “I’ve come so close at both the first two events, that to finally lock down my first top ten, especially starting from the back of the grid, feels amazing. I know it’s just the first points finish, but it means a lot to me, Greg, Al, Kelly and everyone on the Future Star Racing team that we’re no longer talking about potential, and we’re starting to talk about results.”

Linscott, driving the No. 99 for Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport, started 13th. Despite going into the race with very minimal practice time in the days prior, she still managed to hold onto a P15 spot at the checkered flag.

Continuously-changing track conditions – and related driver adaptation – were a significant factor in the hot and sunny weekend.

In race two, Chambers ran in the top ten for the second half, earning a P10 finish but was assessed a post-race penalty for contact with another driver, dropping her out of the points. Linscott started 21st and advanced one spot to finish P20 for round eight.

In the third and final race of the weekend, Linscott drove from the back of the field up to a P19 finish. Chambers was involved in an early-race incident that took her out of contention for a third consecutive top-ten finish.

“This was a tough weekend for me and I really struggled with the changing track conditions,” said Linscott. “A track that changes this much is not something I’ve ever had to deal with before, but I’ll learn from it and be stronger in the future. Right now I’m focused on round four at Brainerd, learning another new track, and looking forward to getting back up towards the top ten.”

Looking ahead, Chambers and Linscott will head to Brainerd International Raceway on July 16-18, 2021 for the next rounds of the F4 United States Championship.

Erin Vogel Takes Historic GT World Challenge Win

On Saturday June 5th, at Virginia International Raceway, Erin Vogel made history when she and her co-driver Michael Cooper won the first GT World Challenge race of the weekend in the Pro-Am class, and finished in third place in the overall standings.

Under cloudless skies, and with temperatures in the 90s, the heat and humidity played havoc with the handling of many of the cars, and Vogels DXDT Mercedes GT3 was also affected by the extreme heat. After a tough official practice session, the team felt the handling issues were solved in qualifying, but multiple red flags kept them from showing their hand.

Vogel started the first race in seventh in the Pro-Am class, and battled the continuously changing track conditions. However, once she found a rhythm, she was able to make passes and move up the order. Hours of driver change practice then paid off as the DXDT crew executed a flawless stop, and Vogels co-driver Michael Cooper left the pits leading the Pro-Am class, and in fourth overall. Cooper then extended the pairings lead and passed another car to place himself and Vogel in third place overall at the checkered flag.

Vogel also wrote her name in the history books as her and Coopers win marked the first win for a female driver in GT World Challenge America.

Michael and I have been working towards this for so long,” said Vogel. Today we had a perfect car, a perfect pit-stop, and we finally won! I love this car, I love this track, and I love this team!”

On Sunday June 6th for the second race of the double header event, Cooper started the race but was involved in a first lap incident, causing a slow puncture and knocking the set-up out of alignment which lead to understeer issues. Despite these handling difficulties, coupled with cockpit temperatures in the 130 degree range, Cooper and Vogel battled forward towards the front. In the closing laps Vogel found herself engaged in a heated fight for fourth place in class, crossing the finish line side by side with her competitor, but having to settle for fifth.

DXDT Racing gave us the car, we had the pace, we had another great pit-stop, but in the end the damage to the car, and the brutal heat and humidity meant that I had my hands full. Fifth place today feels like something to be proud of, and I will always remember this weekend for the team-work and camaraderie that helped us claim yesterdays win.”

The fifth place finish marked Cooper and Vogels fourth top five finish in six races so far this season.

GT World Challenge America returns at Road America on August 27th-29th.

Mann, Martin, Schreiner and Nielsen Win Their Class in ADAC Total 24 Hour Race

On June 6th, 2021, Pippa Mann was one of the driving quartet for the Giti Tire WS Racing Girls’s Only team who won the SP8 Class at the 49th  ADAC Total 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Competing for the first time in the Audi GT4 at the Nurburgring, Mann and Christina Nielsen joined the NLS diver line-up of Celia Martin, Carrie Schreiner, and the all female crew, for the infamous 24 hour race which took place on the notorious 13 mile race track, nick-named The Green Hell.

With limited testing ahead of the event, both Mann and Nielsen completed roughly six laps each before the green flag flew at 3:30 on Saturday June 5th, while Schreiner made the most of one almost completely dry lap during qualifying to put the Giti Tire Audi on the pole in the SP8 class. However the Eifel Weather, as infamous as the track itself for difficult driving conditions, played a role from the very first laps of the race, with rain falling on parts of the circuit, while other areas remained dry, even on the formation lap.

Schreiner and Martin took the first two stints of the race, dealing with almost deluge-like conditions in certain areas of the race track, and then just lightly damp pavement in others. Mann took over in the third stint, on a drying race track on cut slicks rather than wet tires, as the fog started to roll in. Nielsen took over the car on full slick tires for the fourth stint as the surface dried, but the fog worsened.

Due to the ever changing, exceedingly difficult and slippery track conditions, all of the drivers experienced many “Code 60” zones during their laps; where the pace was controlled to 60kph through certain areas of the race track to clear cars that had been involved in accidents and to repair barriers. As the driver rotation returned to Schreiner, the fog continued to worsen, and the race was red-flagged due to bad visibility at 10:30pm on Saturday evening.

Hopes for a re-start were continually rebuffed by the incredibly thick fog that coated areas of the circuit, and even after the light at the end of pit-lane turned green to allow cars to head to the grid, the thick fog remained as everyone waited for the visibility to improve enough to allow the medical helicopter to fly, and for the marshals to see from one post to the next.

The race was finally re-started at 12:00 noon on Sunday afternoon, making it a three-and-a-half hour sprint race to the finish. Martin would take the re-start for a short stint as refueling was not allowed during the red flag. She then moved the Audi GT4 back to the lead of the class on her first lap and then proceeded to set an impressive gap with her first dry, daylight running of the entire event. Schreiner followed Martin, and had to deal with rain on half of the track while on slick tires, and the decision was made to follow Schreiner again with Martin to the end. With the weight of the race on her shoulders, Martin buckled back into the Giti Tire Audi GT4, and proceeded to put down a dominating performance where after six lead changes throughout the race, she increased the gap to over five minutes by the time she took the checkered flag.

“Our entire crew, and my co-drivers were fantastic over the past 24 hours”, said Mann. “I know it was a shortened race, but the Eifel certainly threw some of it’s trickiest conditions at us, and we never had a bad tire choice, or a bad pit-stop. Then, at the end when we needed to lock down the victory, Celia was incredible. I was only here for this year, but this win was three years in the making, and three years of hard work by the Giti Tire WS Racing Girls Only team, and I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to be part of it. I’m so proud of all of my team-mates—not just my driving team-mates, but also of all the women who worked together this weekend to take our all female entry to Victory Lane.”

“We are so proud of winning that legendary race in our class,” said team owner Nicole Willems. “It was a great work of the whole team and the drivers. Well done. Since 2019 we tried to win that race but now we finally did it. Thanks to all fans, partners and Audi Customer Racing for their support. Now we will initiate the next steps with the Girls Only Team.”

Mann will return to action in her coaching and co-driving role at Mid-Ohio on June 25th-27th in the International GT Championship.