Hannah Grisham Wins Heart of Racing Shootout

Shift Up Now Athlete Hannah Grisham was announced today as a winner of the Heart of Racing Shootout, held in November at the Apex Motor Club in Phoenix, AZ.

The victory means Grisham will co-drive an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the 2023 SRO SprintX Series with New Zealand driver Rianna O’Meara-Hunt. The schedule features events at Sonoma Raceway, Circuit of the Americas, VIRginia International Raceway, Road America and Sebring International Raceway.

The initial pool of applicants was made up of more than 100 female racers from around the world. From there, only nine drivers were selected to participate in the shootout. 

Significant track time was provided over the two days, giving drivers the chance to get acquainted with the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and Pirelli Tires. Track time included a variety of simulations, such as mock qualifying runs and race simulations.

The Heart of Racing team members Ian James, Paul Charlsley, Alex Riberas, Roman De Angelis and Ashton Harrison observed and tested overall aptitude. This included growth and adaptability in the car, ability to give and take feedback, and even personality outside of the car.

Grisham, who currently participates in the World Racing League, is eager to add a new racing opportunity to her motorsport career.

“Getting this opportunity means everything to me,” said Grisham. “The whole team has been amazing and they truly care about what they stand for. It really just feels like a big family and I’m excited for that. I think this opportunity is a great new step for me to enter a competitive series that will push me.”

The American driver is no stranger to sharing her race car seat with another female. When asked about her new teammate, O’Meara-Hunt, Grisham said, “All of the girls were really great and we all had a lot of fun in Arizona. I was able to spend some time with Rianna following the shootout and we got along great. I’m excited to share this opportunity with her.”

Next season’s first SRO SprintX Championship race will take place at Sonoma Raceway on March 31 – April 2, 2023.

Sabre Cook Wins Kelly-Moss Female Driver Shootout

Shift Up Now Athlete Sabre Cook was announced today as the winner of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America team Kelly-Moss Road and Race 2023 Female Driver Shootout, marking the first time in history that a female has earned this seat.

The two-day shootout test took place at Putnam Park Raceway in Indiana. Four female candidates were chosen to participate, selected from a pool of 12 profiles. They were evaluated on and off the track, with selection criterion including performance, communication with engineers, understanding of car dynamics, fitness level and media skills. Drivers were competing for a 2023 seat on the championship-winning Kelly-Moss Road and Race team.

The panel of jurors included an icon and pioneer for women in motorsport – 1992 Indy500 Rookie of the Year as well as Daytona 24H and Sebring 12H winner Lyn St James, alongside Porsche Carrera Cup NA race winner Riley Dickinson, team owners Victoria Thomas and Andy Kilcoyne, as well as team’s management and engineering personnel. Katherine Legge, Jeremy Shaw, Alex Stone and their engineer also gave input on which candidate should be chosen.

According to Kelly-Moss Road and Race, “Sabré demonstrated the on and off track skills needed to perform at a very high level. Her experience, athleticism and engineering background will serve her well in the 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup North America series.”

“Winning the shootout and thus the scholarship with Kelly-Moss is an incredible opportunity for me,” said Cook. “I’m so eager to have the chance to run in a fully-funded season with the top team for the first time in my career. Kelly-Moss has such a great group of people and I’m confident they can provide me with the tools to be successful.

“I cannot thank Victoria, Andy and the team enough for believing in me and creating such an amazing opportunity. I look forward to our future success together and breaking down barriers.”

Kelly-Moss Road and Race also announced that, due to extensive media coverage about the female-driver mission, there’s potential to put one more female behind the wheel. The team is currently in negotiations to fund another of the Kelly-Moss Female Driver Shootout finalists in the Porsche Sprint Challenge. Both are Shift Up Now Athletes: Sarah Montgomery and Loni Unser.

Further updates will be available in the coming weeks, and the team is excited to bring two young women into competition in the Porsche Motorsport pyramid.

Winningest Weekend In Shift Up Now History

Athletes Earn Multiple Victories & Podiums at Sebring

Five Shift Up Now Athletes, in three different cars and classes, collectively completed the winningest day in Shift Up Now history. Driving for Round 3 Racing, Hagerty Motorsports and Team Cooper Tire, the Athletes earned five wins and one podium at the season finale of the World Racing League (WRL) Eastern Championship at Sebring Raceway on October 28-30, 2022.

The event also featured an all-female lineup for the first time, with Sabre Cook, Loni Unser and Erin Vogel sharing the wheel of the Team Cooper Tire Cayman in the GP1 class. In addition, after taking the lead early on Saturday, they would become the first all-female team to win in WRL’s GP1 class on their first attempt.

During practice and qualifying on Friday, Cook and Vogel took their first laps in the Team Cooper Tire Cayman. Alongside Unser, the trio qualified third for their first race together as teammates.

The Hagerty Drivers’ Club Porsche Boxster, driven by Hannah Grisham and teammates, qualified fourth in the GP3 class. With a proven race-winning car at last year’s 24-hour Sebring race, the team felt strongly that the race could be won from their second-row starting position.

In the GT0 class, Sarah Montgomery and her teammates earned a sixth consecutive pole position in the Hagerty Motorsports BMW M4 GT4.

On Saturday morning, the green flag flew at 9:00 a.m. ET for eight hours of racing. Montgomery took the start, leading the field into turn one, with a double stint to start the race.

In the GP1 class, Cook was first behind the wheel, also starting the Team Cooper Tire Porsche Cayman with a double stint.

A long red flag interrupted the flow early in the race, followed by a lengthy safety car period where driver changes interfered with strategy calls. But as the race settled into a rhythm, the Hagerty Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 remained in the top three. Meanwhile, the Team Cooper Tire Cayman and the Hagerty Drivers’ Club Boxster both took the lead in their respective classes.

With 90 minutes left in the race, the Hagerty Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 had dropped to P5. But when a late-race safety car closed the field back together for a sprint to the finish, Montgomery’s teammate, Cole Loftsgard, made the most of the opportunity. He was able to pass his way back to the front of the pack, taking the lead with approximately 20 minutes remaining. This marked the third victory of the season for Montgomery and her teammates.

Grisham and her teammates also brought home their Porsche Boxster in first place, creating a race-winning sweep for Round 3 racing and Shift Up Now. This just added to the historic weekend, where cars with Shift Up Now Athletes and Round 3 Racing drivers won every class they entered on the same day.

“What a truly amazing weekend,” said Montgomery. “Everything was completely put together, from the cars, team, drivers and weather. Both days were fantastic for the team and it could not have gone any better. You may have seen my new Bell Techlogix stickers on my helmet, so I’m going to guess that’s what brought me the good luck. Thanks so much to the team and crew for an unforgettable weekend.”

Sunday’s starting grid was set by the fastest lap times from race one on Saturday.

Montgomery’s M4 GT4 would again start on the front row, this time in second place. Cook, Unser and Vogel would again start P3 in the Team Cooper Tire Cayman. And Grisham’s Hagerty Drivers’ Club Boxster rolled off in P4.

Montgomery’s teammate Loftsgard took the start with blistering race pace in his three-hour stint to kick off a second eight hours of racing. He quickly settled into the top three, looking after the car and tires while turning fast times. Team owner and teammate Brad McCall drove the middle stint, then Montgomery was tasked with bringing the car home. Without a working water bottle, it was a tough and hot three-hour stint. But the Louisiana native toughed it out, showed strong pace and helped the team lock down second place.

Vogel took the start for the Team Cooper Tire Porsche, her first start in WRL. She made the move from third to second in class during her double stint. Unser was next in the car, taking the wheel in Sebring Raceway’s notorious mid-day difficult and greasy conditions. With one hour to go in the race, Cook took the lead in the GP1 class. She would hold it to take the trio’s second victory in two days and sweeping the weekend for the all-female driving team. The winning weekend would also secure the Eastern Championship for the car, and full-season driver Unser.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better first weekend back in the driver’s seat thanks to Round 3 Racing,” said Cook. “The team environment is so wonderful to be a part of. Everyone is there to give their best, but also remembers the reason we all started racing: To enjoy it.

“I was obviously nervous to see how my body would deal with the strain of racing again. I was so excited and relieved to feel strong and pain-free in the car, thanks to OrthoIndy’s amazing surgeons and the healthcare professionals that helped me during my rehab. Then to go out and take the win both days, and do it with my fellow Shift Up Now Athletes… what an incredible feeling and experience. Erin and I were so proud to also play a small part in helping Loni and the 701 sew up the Eastern Championship. I cannot thank Hagerty and Shift Up Now enough for the support in getting back behind the wheel.”

In the GP3 class, Grisham started the race with a double stint. She wasted no time taking the Hagerty Driver’s Club car back to the lead of the class. They would continue to lead the entire race, with a commanding margin over their nearest competitor of several laps by the time the checkered flag fell. This would also mark a weekend sweep, and Eastern Championship for Grisham and her teammates.

“This weekend was surely one to remember for the entire team,” said Grisham. “We had an amazing day Saturday ending on the top step of the podium. One of my favorite parts of the day was being on the pit box wall with my team and teammates for the last half hour of the race. The energy was indescribable cheering on our team.
“Sunday was another great day. I started the race and our car was on rails. I drove from fourth to the lead, and put our competition almost a lap down. My teammates also drove great stints and we had a dominating win, securing our Eastern National Championship. I want to thank Shift Up Now, Hagerty Motorsports and the McCalls for all their support this year.”

The Shift Up Now Athletes are now looking ahead to the season finale, and United States Endurance Championship finale. Montgomery, Unser, Cook and Grisham will all return to action at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on December 2-4, 2022.

Amber Balcaen: 2022 Season In Review

Shift Up Now Athlete Amber Balcaen has successfully completed her rookie season in the 2022 ARCA Menards Series with Rette Jones Racing. The eight-month schedule included 20 races on 19 tracks, starting on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway and ending at a half-mile short track in Toledo, Ohio.

 The big race tracks brought incredible speed where, throughout the season, Balcaen proved she could adapt. 

When she wasn’t making circles approaching speeds of 200 miles per hour, Balcaen was embracing the shorts tracks. For the first time in a stock car, Balcaen cycled back to her racing roots by making two starts on the dirt at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds and the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The Canadian driver also had two starts on road courses at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Watkins Glen International. 

The diversity of the series allowed Balcaen to shine, qualifying six times inside the top ten. She also ran in the top ten for twelves races, and captured six top-ten finishes. This was highlighted by a career-best, seventh-place run at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend. 

With her three top-ten finishes in the last four races of the season, Balcaen finished seventh in the championship standings. 

Despite ending the season on a high note, Balcaen reflected on the challenging summer months. 

“There was a period in the summer where we just couldn’t finish a race,” she explained. “Whether it was overheating, oil line issues, or someone just dumping me out of the race, it felt like a never-ending streak of bad luck. It tested my mental strength and resilience as well as my teams, having to work extra hours in the shop. 

“It was very frustrating because most of these races where people would take us out or bad luck struck, we were competing inside of the top ten or had strong runs going. We should have more than ten top-ten finishes, but luck was just not on our side this year.”

Balcaen believes she came out a stronger individual when the turbulent run fizzled out. 

“I have genuinely never encountered so much bad luck in one season,” Balcaen commented. “However, it also sharpened my resilience and mental toughness as an athlete.” 

She says she tried to search for the small “wins,” whether it was at the shop or even at the race track, until they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. 

“No matter the race result, I still felt extremely grateful every weekend to compete at that level. So when I felt really down, I tried to always turn to gratitude and being grateful for the opportunity I had in front of me and the people that were around me.”

One of those “wins” was being was noted as one of the hottest drivers on the development tour towards the end of the season, after she captured three top-ten finishes in the last four races. This included ending the season with a top-ten finish at ARCA’s home track. 

Looking back at all 20 races, Balcaen said she saved her best effort for last. 

“Probably the last race of the season was my best,” she said. “I really gave it my all and fought for each position, battled with cars and passed cars too. It was also a tough field of cars. I all around felt way more knowledgeable, comfortable and confident in this ARCA Menards Series than I did at the beginning of the season. I finally feel like I know what I’m doing and wish the season wasn’t over because I was just starting really get into the groove of things.

Balcaen expressed gratitude to her marketing partners and team for standing by her throughout the season. 

“I am beyond grateful to ICON Direct, and Glen McLeod and Sons for making this all possible,” she said. “I will never be able to thank them enough for what they have done for me. I am very fortunate to be aligned with such great people who I continue to build great relationships with. 

She continued, “Thank you to Mark Rette, Terry Jones and the entire Rette Jones Racing team for putting all their effort in all year. These guys work their butts off and taught me so much. Mark is the most knowledgeable crew chief I’ve ever worked with and really helped develop me into becoming a better race car driver.”

“This season was full of testing moments, a lot of bad luck, and hard challenges to overcome,” she said. “It was a year full of learning and improving. All in all, it was not the season I had hoped for from a results standpoint however, I do believe I improved immensely as a driver in every aspect. 

“This makes me more excited for the future knowing I can continue to improve and progress on what I have learned. I hope to return to the ARCA Menards Series next year in some capacity and continue to build upon my improvements from this season.

“I am extremely grateful for every one person, every partner, and to my team for helping make the 2022 season possible.” 

Erin Vogel Helps Make History for Round 3 Racing

Shift Up Now Athlete Erin Vogel will join Round 3 Racing (R3R) to complete the team’s first all-female driver lineup for the upcoming World Racing League (WRL) event at Sebring International Raceway on October 28-30, 2022.

Shift Up Now and R3R have a storied history of partnership success, creating opportunities for talented female racers. These opportunities have resulted in multiple podium finishes and victories. Successes also include the Eastern Championship for Loni Unser and her teammates in the GP2 class in 2020.

Vogel will join season-long driver Unser, and Sabre Cook. Cook was recently announced in the GP1 Eastern Championship-leading Team Cooper Tire 701 Porsche Cayman entry. With two wins and three podium finishes so far this season, the team will look to continue their form during the twin eight-hour races at America’s oldest permanent road course.

“I’m really excited to be joining Round 3 Racing for the Sebring round of WRL,” said Vogel. “The whole team has been incredibly welcoming, and I’m thrilled to be joining Loni and Sabre to create an all-female driving lineup for this event.”

Other Shift Up Now Athletes on R3R’s lineup for this event include Sarah Montgomery, competing in the 401 Hagerty Motorsports BMW M4 GT4, and Hannah Grisham, racing the 605 Hagerty Driver’s Club Porsche Boxster. Vogel marks the tenth Shift Up Now athlete to have competed in Round 3 Racing equipment since the partnership began in December of 2019.

“I’ve been following Erin in SRO for a few years, and I have been a big fan,” said R3R Owner Brad McCall. “When I met her at VIR this year we struck up an immediate friendship. She fits in perfectly with the family atmosphere at R3R and we all wanted to get her into one of our cars ASAP. Not only are we excited to have Erin bring her professionalism and experience to R3R, but we’re thrilled that she will be a part of our all-female team in the No. 701 Porsche.”

The No. 701 team aims to continue their podium momentum from Virginia International Raceway at Sebring later this month. The race weekend begins on Friday, October 28th, with practice and qualifying, followed by two days of action-packed racing.

Julia Landauer to Race NASCAR Xfinity Series With Alpha Prime Racing At Homestead

Julia Landauer will be making her second NASCAR Xfinity Series start with Alpha Prime Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Saturday, October 22nd, driving the No.44 Atem Car Club Chevrolet, with supporting sponsorship from Shift Up Now, OnChainMonkey, and House of First’s Remarkable Women NFT.

“I’m happy to give Julia another chance with Alpha Prime,” said Tommy Joe Martins, GM of Alpha Prime Racing. “It’s a big opportunity for her to continue to grow and improve going into 2023.”

Landauer, a two-time champion racer, makes her second NASCAR Xfinity Series start after making her debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July.

“I’m really happy we were able to put together another race with Alpha Prime Racing this year,” said Landauer. “Although New Hampshire didn’t go the way we had hoped, I learned a lot, had fun in the car, and I can’t wait to get on a bigger racetrack.”

“The whole community is excited to share the journey along your side, whether it’s in the pits, the crowd, or from afar we are rooting for you, Julia!” Said Jeff McDonald, Founder of ATEM Car Club, a Web3 community reaching towards the future of the industry.

“We are proud to support Julia Landauer in her race – she is a champion and visionary in racecar driving as well as Web3,” said Amanda Terry, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of NFT collection OnChainMonkey. “We are thrilled to partner with her. She exemplifies what the OnChainMonkey community stands for – respect, integrity, sustainability and experimentation.”

“As an NFT project dedicated to supporting and uplifting women in the Web3 space and beyond, we are so excited to be able to support Julia and her team at the NASCAR Xfinity Race,” said Kayla Schoerie, Director of Marketing at House of First. “She continues to be an inspiration to so many and an amazing member of our House of First community. We are grateful for her continued support as an Official Remarkable Women NFT project Ambassador since our launch.”

Landauer and her Atem Car Club No.44 Chevy Camaro will get on-track on October 21, for a 30-minute practice session beginning at 6:00pm ET. Single-lap, single-car qualifying will take place just after practice on October 21 at 6:30pm ET. Coverage of the October 22 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will begin at 4:30 pm ET on the USA Network.