Another Podium Finish for Vogel at Sebring

Shift Up Now Athlete Erin Vogel earned a second-place finish with teammate Michael Cooper on Sunday, October 3, 2021 for Round 12 of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS at Sebring International Raceway.

Driving the No. 19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Pro/Am class, Vogel and Cooper relied on their pre-testing time from February as they headed into on Thursday and Friday. The duo ran most of Thursday mid-pack as they adjusted the car setup to a lower overall grip.

On Friday morning, they elected to run the optional Bronze driver test, consisting of GT3 and GT4 cars from every race group. Although sometimes challenging to get a clear lap due to out-of-class traffic, Vogel got out ahead of the group, capitalized on the sticker tires with improved grip and completed a few mock-qualifying laps. She ran the fastest lap of the session at approximately three seconds faster than her previous afternoon laps.

Track grip improved even more for Saturday morning’s qualifying session. Vogel earned a sixth-place starting position for that afternoon’s race, with only two-tenths separating her from starting in podium contention.

Vogel had a great start to race one and handed the car over to Cooper in fourth place. Despite having a great pace, he started experiencing handling issues just five laps into his stint, which worsened as the race went on. With four laps to go, Cooper reported that the car was almost unmanageable. Despite trying to hang on, the suspension became fully disconnected and the team had to park the car.

Cooper started Sunday’s race from the sixth position and moved into podium contention almost immediately, handing the car to Vogel in third place, just as a full-course caution came out. At the restart, Vogel made up a position, moving the team into second in class, fifth overall. She battled during some green-flag laps and held onto the second-place finish when the checkered flag fell.

“It was a proud moment to cross that line in second after struggling with my own pace all weekend,” said Vogel. “In race two, my pace was – on average – about 1.5 seconds faster than the previous day’s pace and it was a great lesson to not over-think my driving. This car is coming to me, and I have to let myself find my flow and just drive it. I’ll continue to chip away at it in the eight-hour season finale coming up at Indy in ten days.”

Vogel added, “Once again we had both women in the GT World Challenge climbing up those podium steps and that made second place feel like a win.”

The season finale – Round 13 – of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS will take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 15-17, 2021.

Two Shift Up Now Athletes in the running for IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship

Shift Up Now Athletes Sabre Cook and Sarah Montgomery were among four women and six men selected as finalists for the inaugural International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Diverse Driver Development Scholarship.

Cook is the only American to qualify for the W Series in 2021. The 27-year-old, Grand Junction, Colorado-native finished third in her Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama debut in May at Circuit of The Americas, becoming the first woman in series history to finish on the podium.

Montgomery is currently competing in the World Racing League (WRL) GTO class, driving a Porsche Cayman S 3.8 for Round 3 Racing. The 27-year-old, Lafayette, Louisiana-native earned three poles, seven podiums and a victory in the 2020 WRL season. She was the first woman to score a podium result in Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich ND1 class, earning four in the 2019 season en route to fourth in the class championship standings.

To be eligible for the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship, Cook and Montgomery had to show a strong desire to compete in IMSA, outstanding previous race results and/or proven on-track potential in junior racing categories and the ability to build a compelling business plan for securing the remaining funding needed to compete in a full season in 2022. The scholarship was introduced on August 10th and IMSA received 35 applications.

“The response we received after announcing the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship in August was fantastic,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “There were so many talented applicants, and it was extraordinarily difficult to select our 10 finalists. It will be even more difficult to choose one recipient, as all of our finalists have what it takes to succeed long term in IMSA.”

The winner will be announced during Motul Petit LeMans week at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The scholarship is worth nearly $250,000 in value toward a full season of 2022 competition (in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge or IMSA Prototype Challenge), in addition to substantial support from IMSA and partners such as Michelin, VP Racing Fuels, OMP, RECARO and LAT Photo USA.

Shift Up Now launches new webinar series

The Shift Up Now athletes have combined their various backgrounds and experiences to launch a new webinar series for members, aimed at helping up-and-coming racers find their path.

After listening to feedback from its membership base, Shift Up Now leaders noticed a common theme in the information that was being requested: how to get into racing.

The three-part webinar series begins on Monday, October 4th at 8:00 p.m. ET with “From Karting to Cars.” Panelists Sabre Cook, Hannah Grisham, Emily Linscott and Chloe Chambers will walk members – and their parents – through the transition from karting to cars. Discussion will also include the various open wheel or sports car ladders, and the budget numbers involved with those pathways.

The series continues on Monday, October 18th at 8:00 p.m. ET with “The Many Ladders to NASCAR.” Like so many of the pathways in motorsport, the ladders to NASCAR can be confusing and hard to navigate. Julia Landauer and Amber Balcaen are two racers who are currently navigating these ladders, and will help members understand what the next steps could look like.

The webinar series will conclude on Tuesday, November 2nd and 8:00 p.m. ET with “How to Get Into Racing in Your 20s, 30s and Beyond.” When you didn’t grow up in motorsport, or start racing at a young age, the idea of getting into racing can be intimidating, and the acronyms around the various series and opportunities don’t help. This webinar is specifically for those who want to start racing later in life, or who started racing later, but still want to figure out what their next steps are. Panelists include Lynn Kehoe, Mandy McGee, Erin Vogel and Pippa Mann.

Members can register for the webinars through the Shift Up Now Member Dashboard or the links in the exclusive member emails.

Pole Position and Podium Finish for Vogel at Watkins Glen

Shift Up Now Athlete Erin Vogel earned the pole position and a third-place podium spot for Saturday’s SRO GT World Challenge America race, with teammate Michael Cooper at Watkins Glen, then followed it up with a fifth-place finish on Sunday.

Vogel ran P6 in both of the practice sessions on Friday and used the time to dial in the setup of the No. 19 car for DXDT Racing.

Overnight rain brought mixed conditions for qualifying on Saturday morning but Vogel was confident in the setup and was the first car out of the box when the green flag flew. She let one car by to open up a clear track and laid down several solid laps, moving up to P3 before another car caused a red flag. Once it was lifted, Vogel had time for one more flying lap. Despite running side-by-side with another car into the Carousel at turn five, her 1:51.104 lap was fast enough to put her on the pole.

Vogel started behind the wheel in race one and knew that strategy would be a factor. She trailed the two lead cars and maintained a P3 position while stretching out a comfortable lead over the fourth- and fifth-place cars. She handed the wheel over to Cooper, who held their P3 position through the checkered flag to give them a podium finish.

Race two on Sunday brought the best track conditions and car setup of the weekend. Vogel and Cooper were able to drive their most consistent laps yet, climbing to P2 at one point, but got shuffled back due to several safety-car periods. The duo fought hard and finished the second race in P5.

“Overall, it was a weekend I’m very proud of as a driver,” said Vogel. “My first pole position in pro racing, another podium this season and another top-five finish are all great results. I can honestly say that all my hopes for my rookie season have been achieved and there are still two events left in the season. Even without converting my first pole position to a win, it was very special to stand on the podium and spray that champagne. I was incredibly proud of everyone on the team for a great day of racing.

“Saturday’s results were also particularly special because not only was there a woman on the podium, but for the first time – and maybe ever – two teams on the SRO GT World Challenge America podium had female drivers.”

Vogel will head to Sebring International Raceway on October 1-3, 2021 for rounds 11 and 12 of the SRO GT World Challenge America season.

Pippa Mann to join OGH Motorsports with Nolasport for the Indianapolis 8 Hour

Shift Up Now Athlete, and seven-time Indianapolis 500 competitor Pippa Mann will join OGH Motorsports with Nolasport to compete in the Intercontinental GT Challenge Indianapolis 8 Hour race this October at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

OGH Motorsports with Nolasport are currently campaigning their Valkyrie Porsche Cayman GT4 in the SRO GT4 America SprintX Championship with drivers Sean Gibbons and Sam Owen. Mann will team up with the season-long driving duo as their third driver for the blue riband event of the SRO America season, and the second event of the Intercontinental GT Challenge season.

The event will mark Mann’s debut in SRO American competition, and her second International GT4 appearance of the season, after a successful ADAC Total 24 hour race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in June.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join Sean and Sam in their car for this event, and to be returning to action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Mann. “While traveling the opposite direction down the front straight might take a little getting used to, I’m stoked to be back on the track for another major sports car event this season, this time in my adopted home town.”

Race fans that followed Mann at the Indianapolis 500 will also see a familiar logo on the OGH Motorsports with Nolasport Valkyrie Porsche Cayman GT4 at this event.

“The Indianapolis 8 Hour has also provided a fantastic opportunity for my friends at Bell Techlogix to step into the GT Racing world. Several years ago, we introduced them to the Indy 500, and now I can’t wait to introduce them to sports car racing.”

“I am looking forward to racing the Indianapolis 8 Hour with Pippa and Sam,” said Gibbons. “The first time I raced in a GT Intercontinental Challenge was at Laguna Seca in 2018 where we finished second. Our goal is one step higher on the podium.”

Owens added, “To have the opportunity to finish the season at such an iconic track and to race with Pippa and Sean is somewhat surreal. Pippa has been such a great ambassador and competitor in motorsports. Sean and I are honored to have her team with OGH in the Indianapolis 8 Hour.”

The Intercontinental GT Challenge Indianapolis 8 Hour race will take place on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 17th, 2021.

For more information about the event, please visit www.IntercontinentalGTchallenge.com.

For more information about OGH Motorsports please visit www.OGHmotorsports.com.

Unser Earns Two Top 15 Finishes at Road America

Shift Up Now Athlete Loni Unser brought home a pair of top-fifteen finishes in the Mazda MX5 Cup races at Road America on Friday and Saturday, continuing her strong rookie season.

Weather conditions were ideal for Thursday’s practice sessions on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn, Wisconsin road course. Driving the No 92. Hixon Motorsports Peregrine Fund / Word of Honor MX5 Cup Car, Unser completed some solid practice laps in preparation for Friday morning’s qualifying.

With the draft worth almost two seconds per lap, finding the right mix of speed and tow would prove to be an art form during the short, 20-minute qualifying session. After a red flag shortened the session even further, Unser described the conditions as having a “frantic energy.” Every driver tried to advance his/her starting position in a limited amount of time. As the checkered flag flew, Unser’s time earned her a 15th place spot on the starting grid for Friday afternoon’s race.

Road America, infamous for it’s changing weather, continued that trend for the first race. The track was mostly dry for Unser and the MX5 Cup racers, with the exception of three corners of pouring rain during the first part of the race, creating extremely difficult driving conditions. Unser dropped back in the first few laps, but then settled into a rhythm and started re-passing cars and advancing to a 14th placed finish.

With a 14th place starting spot for the second race of the event, Unser had her eye on moving even further up the field and had a strong start to the race. However, she lost momentum during a passing attempt in the final corner and onto the front straight, causing her to drop to the back of the pack. For a second race in a row she would have to pass her way back to the front. Describing her ensuing comeback as “fueled by anger,” Unser proceeded to drive her way back through to field to a 12th place finish, at which point she ran out of laps to climb higher.

“Earlier this season, I would have been pretty happy to have had two top-fifteen finishes in this field and I’m trying to remember that because it helps remind me how much progress I’m making,” said Unser. “With that said, while I’m still furious about my mistake in race two that dropped me down the order, I am pleased with how I drove to get back to a twelfth-place finish. I am having so much fun driving this race car, and I can’t wait for another chance to race it again.”

Unser will be back with Hixon Motorsports for the next Mazda MX5 Cup event at Laguna Seca on September 10-12, 2021.

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.