Abbate Earns TA2 Hard Charger Award at Mid-Ohio to Cap Off First Half of 2022 Season

Shift Up Now Athlete Michele Abbate completed a successful debut weekend at Mid- Ohio Sports Car Course, earning a top-20 finish for Round 8 of the Trans Am National Tour Series on June 23-26, and taking home the coveted Hard Charger Award.

Practice time was limited for Abbate, due to track cleanup on Friday and several incidents on Saturday. With only a handful of laps of practice time, the Grr Racing driver drove a personal best lap time of 1:30 on Friday, which she bested to 1:28.6 the following day in qualifying. This put her P30 on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.

The 34-car field took the green flag under dry conditions on Sunday. Abbate made solid passes, and avoided several multi-car incidents and two full-course black flags. The No. 30 Ghost Energy BC Race Cars Ford Mustang was one of the only cars to finish the race without any contact. Abbate made up 13 positions during the 38-lap race and finished P17.

“I had a front-row view of so many incidents so it was a mental challenge to stay focused and clean,” said Abbate. “We have some of the best road racing drivers in the nation competing in TA2 and most of them have plenty of experience at this track, so I’m happy with my personal progress in my debut here. I’m getting better every race.”

In reflecting on her debut season at the halfway point of the TA2 Championship, Abbate notes that although the team has had some unfortunate finishes due to contact, they’ve also seen some great progress as well.

The Las Vegas, Nevada driver has completed seven races in 40+ car fields and earned four top-20 finishes (Charlotte, Laguna Seca, Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio). For the remainder of the season, each track – with the exception of Circuit of the Americas – will be new to Abbate but she welcomes the challenge of adapting quickly.

“Heading into this season, I knew it would get the opportunity to expand my race craft, from a new car to a new team and a lot of new tracks,” said Abbate. “From an experience and learning standpoint, this season has been nothing short of amazing. The results on paper don’t do my season justice but my plan is to focus forward and absorb all the knowledge I can to keep coming back stronger.

“My favorite thing about racing TA2 in the National Series – besides having spec cars – is the car count. The field keeps growing and the amount of talent is massive, which pushes me to be better every time I’m out there in the Ghost Energy Mustang.”

Next weekend, Abbate heads to Road America for Round 9 of the TA2 Series season, alongside the NASCAR Cup Series on July 1-3, 2022.

Podium Finish for Grisham in Daytona 14 Hour race

All Shift Up Now Athletes finish in the top 10

Six Shift Up Now Athletes earned top-ten finishes in their classes for a momentous World Racing League endurance race on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at Daytona International Speedway.

Hannah Grisham returned to Round 3 Racing for the first of three races this season, and took home a podium finish. Driving the No. 605 Hagerty Driver’s Club Porsche Boxter in the GP3 class, Grisham and teammates started the 14-hour race from the P2 spot. 

Grisham drove the second stint after teammate Dennis Neel, and before the race’s first lightening delay approximately five hours in. After the delay, Round 3 Racing team owner Buz McCall kept the car in the top five during his stint between lightening delays, and teammate Carter Pease drove the final stint to cross the finish line in second place.

“It was great to be back in a car this weekend at Daytona, and to be reunited with the whole Round 3 Racing team,” said Grisham. “We had a small mechanical issue during the race that caused us to fall back to sixth place. That, along with two long lighting delays cut our ability to make up lost time. My teammates put in some really great runs in the rain to close out the race and we were able to secure a second-place finish. 

“Thank you to the whole team for their relentless efforts all weekend. I’m so thankful to Shift Up Now for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to driving the Hagerty Driver’s Club Boxster in a month at Road Atlanta.” 

Also making a return to Round 3 Racing was Shea Holbrook, filling in for Loni Unser, who spent the weekend completing her Pike’s Peak Rookie Orientation. 

Driving the No. 701 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Cayman, Holbrook and teammates started P2 in the GP1 class. The trio had a solid start to the race, however when Holbrook took the wheel for the third stint, the lower control arm broke in the car. A fast repair got her back on track and she rebounded to P4 before handing the wheel over.

A second small mechanical issue with the shifter link set the team back later in the race but once again, quick repairs kept them in the hunt and they crossed the finish line in P4. 

In the GT0 class, it was a tough qualifying session on Friday for all four Shift Up Now Athletes. With only three dry sessions for the day – and working to ensure all drivers had the opportunity to get behind the wheel – the Shift Up Now racers would line up 15th through 20th in the 35-car GT0 field.

Laura Hayes drove a triple-stint in the No. 111 BMW M2CS car for Thunder Bunny Racing and advanced the car to the lead. Her teammates were able to keep the car in the top five throughout the remainder of the race, finishing in P4 and continuing their streak of top-five finishes.

Sarah Montgomery swapped from her normal car into the No. 609 Hagerty Sentinel BMW M4 GT4 for the weekend, giving her new teammates as well. She took the first stint and advanced the car to P10, then later moved into the top five before the first lightening delay.

Montgomery’s teammates kept the car inside the top ten during their time behind the wheel, then she drove the final stint to cross the finish line in P6.

Pippa Mann and Chloe Chambers piloted the No. 770 Monoflo International TLM Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 with teammates Evan Hinkle and Tillman Schmid. On Friday, an issue outside of the team’s control kept the car in the garage for most of the day, giving the team just one flying lap for qualification. 

Mann started Saturday’s race and drove to P8 during her double stint. Near the end of her stint, the car had a fuel pick-up issue, sending it to the garage. The team returned to the race several laps down and P52 overall.

The car returned to the track with Schmid behind the wheel, driving a double stint before handing the car over to Chambers, who continued the team’s climb back up the order. At the second lightening delay, the team was back inside the top 20, but when the race resumed at dusk with a very wet track, Hinkle, followed by Chambers made gains against the competition in the last hours of the race to bring home a top ten finish.

The World Racing League heads to Road Atlanta next, for a double-header weekend on July 9-10, 2022.

Third-Place Finish for Mann and ‘Girls Only’ Team at Nurburgring 24 Hours

Pippa Mann and her WS Racing ‘Girls Only’ Giti Tire team earned a third-place finish in their class on Sunday, May 29, 2022 in the ADAC Total Energies 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. 

Driving a BMW M4 GT4, Mann and teammates Carrie Schreiner, Fabienne Wohlwend and Celia Martin, the event schedule meant there were no practice sessions outside of the official qualifying sessions to set the grid.

The weather was sunny and dry for the first, 90-minute qualifying session on Thursday morning, however the team encountered an electronic fuel pump issue, and were unable to run laps. The second session was three hours in length on Thursday evening, into the night and track conditions cooled considerably as the sun set. All drivers completed two laps while it was still light out, then one once darkness fell.

For Mann, these laps were her first on the Nordschleife in 2022, her first ever in the BMW M4 GT4 and after the red flag stoppage for fog overnight in 2021, her first ever lap on the track in complete darkness.

After using the final short 45 minute qualifying session on Friday morning to bed in brakes for the race, Mann took 5 laps on the Nurburgring Grand Prix of the Nurburgring during morning warm-up on Saturday morning to continue to learn the car before the start of the race.

Saturday’s 24-hour race began at 4:00 p.m. and welcomed back fans for the first time since 2019. An estimated 250,000 race fans were in attendance around the 15.8-mile racetrack and more than 130 cars participated, including 38 GT3 cars.

It was dry and cool for the race start. Martin was behind the wheel first, starting from P4 in class. The formation lap left at 3.40 for the long lap around the Nordschleife before the green flag. Martin advanced to P3 during her stint and handed the wheel to Wohlwend for her seven-lap stint.

Mann took the wheel third for seven dry laps in the daylight. Then Schreiner was the first to drive a double stint just before nightfall, followed by double stints from Martin, Wohlwend and Mann, running flawless laps and carrying them through the night. As dawn broke, the WS ‘Girls Only’ Giti Tire team was running second in their class, but dropped back to third once the sun rose, and their closest competitors found their pace again in the day-light.

With approximately four hours to go, as the “Eiffel weather” the region is known for started to play a part in the race. Conditions were extremely wet in parts of the race track, almost dry in others, and constantly changing with the rain fall moving weather across different areas of the race track at different times. Mann and Schreiner handled the two difficult stints of the race with the constantly changing conditions on slicks, and “cut slick” tires, and kept the car in third place, with no mistakes, for Martin to take over for the final stint. 

The team took the checkered flag in third place in their class, and 35th overall.

“I was thrilled to be asked to rejoin the WS Racing ‘Girls Only’ team for this event, and to have the opportunity to return to the Nordschleife for the 50th anniversary of their first 24 Hour race,” said Mann. “After the weather impacted the race so severely the past couple of years with long red flags, we were all hoping for a full 24 hour race this year, and our wish was granted.

“This is definitely a tough event to turn up to with no seat time at the track since the race the previous year, and no experience previously driving an M4 GT4, but the ‘Girls Only’ crew and engineering team worked with me to help me get comfortable in the car. Overall I’m very happy with how I drove in the race, especially in the extremely tricky wet/dry stint I had on Sunday. 

“The night laps here were also a real experience. This track is so very dark at night, and the headlights of the GT3 cars coming up fast are extreme. There was also a lot of code 60 and code 120 during my first stint at night, but during the second stint I was able to really find the rhythm and run comparable lap times to daylight.” 

She added, “Overall, our entire driving lineup was strong and we all contributed to this result. The WS Racing ‘Girls Only’ pit crew was amazing. As a team, we ran a great 24 Hour race and maximized our result. We worked hard, made no mistakes and were rewarded with a result that we can be proud of.”

Mann plans to return to action on June 10-11, 2022 at the Daytona 14-Hour endurance race with TLM Racing in the World Racing League, driving the Monoflo Porsche Cayman GT4.

Top five finish for Vogel at NOLA

Shift Up Now Athlete Erin Vogel earned a fifth-place finish with teammate Michael Cooper driving for RealTime Racing (RTR) on Saturday in the Pro/Am class of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans.

The GT NOLA weekend served as rounds three and four of the 13-round season. 

On Friday, Vogel reported increasing power loss related to a broken fuel pump, costing the team valuable practice time. She qualified the No. 43 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 in P11 for Saturday’s race around the 2.75-mile, 16-turn track.

In race one on Saturday, Vogel avoided a significant collision in turn three and gained a few positions. She then took advantage of the restart to advance further. Despite a lack of grip and overall balance, she described the car as “the best we’ve had yet.” Vogel managed it well to hand the car over to Cooper in fifth, which he held for the remainder of his stint.

“It just felt really good to finish in the top five after a really tough qualifying – and honestly a tough weekend – so far overall,” said Vogel. “In terms of our speed, relative to the rest of the field, and then the electrical and fuel delivery issues yesterday, it’s been tough.

“I’m so proud of the team for their effort on the repairs and for the quick pit stop. We had the fastest stop of the whole field and gained a couple more positions there. It was a little wild on the start, and it’s never fun starting at the back of the field because there are almost always bound to be incidents, so you just have to hope you can avoid being collected as well.”

On Sunday, Cooper qualified the car P10 for the second race and gained one spot before the race started due to another team’s penalty. Weather was a slight factor, with rain on half the track for the first five laps, followed by intermittent sprinkles through the duration of the 90-minute race.

Vogel felt the team got closer to the balance they were looking for on Sunday, but were still lacking grip and overall speed, both in braking and cornering.

Cooper gained a few positions on the start but got caught up in a small incident, knocking him back to P11. By the time the pit window opened, he was up to P9. The RTR team gained one more position through good strategy and another great pit stop, advancing them to P8, where Vogel took the wheel.

Vogel was alone on track for the first half of her stint without any full-course cautions. With 18 minutes to go, the rain came and Vogel nearly lost a spot but held on for the final laps of the race for an eighth-place finish.

Vogel and Cooper return to racing at Virginian International Raceway in Danville, VA on June 17-19, 2022, for the fifth and sixth rounds of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS.

Shift Up Now Announces Expanded Partnership with Hagerty

Shift Up Now is proud to announce that Hagerty will advance its partnership with Shift Up Now for the 2022 season.

Hagerty’s purpose of saving driving and car culture for future generations includes a strong focus on women in motorsport. In 2021, the brand sponsored Shift Up Now Athletes competing with Round 3 Racing in the World Racing League. That support will continue in 2022 with full- time rides for Athletes Sarah Montgomery (GT0 class) and Loni Unser (GP1 class).

Unser will also be making her debut at Pikes Peak this June, driving a Porsche Cayman GT4 in the Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama class. Hagerty and Shift Up Now will support the effort through travel and photography grants, supplementing the funding Unser has already raised for her race up the mountain. As an associate sponsor, Hagerty’s logos will appear on the entry.

“I feel very honored to be running in this year’s 100th running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb,” said Unser. “To be doing it with the support of Hagerty and Shift Up Now makes it that much more special.

“I am running the Hill Climb for two reasons: First, to push my own limits and challenge myself in ways that I have never been before. Second, I am running the Hill Climb to honor my family. Being able to make a run up the mountain on the 100th running is going to be very special for the whole Unser family, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to carry on my family’s legacy. People have been telling me I was born to do this and I will have to say I agree.”

Shift Up Now Athlete Hannah Grisham will compete with Round 3 Racing in three World Racing League events – Daytona, Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway – driving in defending National Championship car in the GP3 class, the 605 Hagerty Driver’s Club Porsche Boxster.

“I am very excited to continue my partnership with Hagerty, driving for Round 3 Racing in the 2022 season,” said Grisham. “It is great to work with such an outstanding company and group of people who share similar values. Massive thanks to Hagerty and Shift Up Now for everything they do to support women in motorsports.”

Shift Up Now Athlete / Leader, Shea Holbrook, will make her return to the drivers seat in June, after giving birth to her second child last year. Holbrook will join the Hagerty/Team Cooper Tire entry at Daytona, filling in for Unser, who will be completing the mandatory Pikes Peak practice weekend.

“Partnerships in our industry are critical,” said Holbrook. “Having a partner like Hagerty increase their level of support within Shift Up Now is a testament to their commitment to further develop and provide opportunities for women in motorsport.

“Personally I’m also excited to have this opportunity to get back behind the wheel. Now that I’m a mother of two, and running two motorsports businesses, my life is certainly very busy, but at my core, I’m still a racing driver, and I can’t wait to get back in the seat.”

In addition to sponsoring the Round 3 Racing Athletes, Hagerty has also expanded its support by becoming a Shift Up Now Corporate Member. This means helping other Athletes to cover travel and/or photography expenses when competing at Hagerty-affiliated racetracks and venues this season, such as Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park, Road America, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park.

“Our partnership with Shift Up Now comes down to two things — driving positive change in the world and ensuring that generations of car lovers get to experience the thrill of driving and motorsport,” said Justin Moreno, Vice President of Marketing at Hagerty. “So we share the same passion and objectives – I can’t wait to see everyone in the paddock this season.”

The next World Racing League event for the Round 3 Racing Athletes is the 14 hour race at Daytona International Speedway, taking place on June 11th.

About Hagerty, Inc. (NYSE: HGTY)

Based in Traverse City, Michigan, Hagerty’s purpose is to save driving and car culture for future generations and its mission is to build a global business to fund that purpose. Hagerty is an automotive enthusiast brand offering integrated membership products and programs as well as a specialty insurance provider focused on the global automotive enthusiast market. Hagerty is home to Hagerty Drivers Club, Hagerty DriveShare, Hagerty Valuation Tools, Hagerty Media, Hagerty Drivers Club magazine, MotorsportReg, Hagerty Garage + Social, The Amelia, Detroit Concours d’Elegance, Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, California Mille, Motorworks Revival, Hagerty Drivers Foundation and more. For more information on Hagerty, please visit www.hagerty.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

More information is available at newsroom.hagerty.com.

Top Ten Finish for Balcaen at Kansas

Shift Up Now Athlete Amber Balcaen earned a ninth-place finish driving in the ARCA Menards Series on Saturday, May 14, 2022 in the Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas Speedway.

Driving the No. 30 Icon Direct car for Rette Jones Racing, Balcaen was competing on a 1.5-mile track for the first time in her career. She had 45 minutes of practice time on Saturday before the race, and practice times set the qualifying grid.

Balcaen started 13th in sunny, warm conditions for the fourth race of the season. For most of the 100-lap race, she hovered between 11th and 12th place. Around lap 70, the Canadian driver climbed up into the top ten, feeling she got better as the race progressed and she got into the groove. Her first 1.5-mile race left her exhausted afterward but she noted her enjoyment of how “racy” the track was.

“It was a great day for our Rette Jones Racing team with a solid P9 finish at Kansas,” said Balcaen. “We get better every race and I’m happy with our progression. This season is all about learning and progression.

“Thank you to Icon Direct, and Glen McLeod & Sons for making all of this possible, and a special thanks to 1st Phorm for coming on board for our Kansas race. Also, thank you to the incredible fans at Kansas. I got to meet a lot of new faces this weekend.”

The ARCA Menards Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway next, for the General Tire 150 on Friday, May 27, 2022.

The Momentum Group Joins Shift Up Now as a Corporate Member

Indianapolis based marketing and branding business, The Momentum Group, has joined Shift Up Now as a Corporate Member for 2022, creating “The Momentum Group Photography Fund” to help Shift Up Now Athletes who have landed sponsorship deals provide high quality images, photography, and videography for their partners.

Experts in in brand development, advertising, online and digital marketing, and helping create and manage business to business relationships, The Momentum Group also has years of experience in motorsport, and working with teams, and drivers to help both with finding and supporting sponsors, and elevating their branding to attract new partners.

“Shift Up Now is currently working to lead the way in motorsport, by helping female Athletes find the funding to compete, and we want to be in at the ground level, helping them build support for the next generations of female racers,” said Jim Bork, CEO of The Momentum Group.

“Professional photography and videography is of paramount importance for all racers to be able to provide for their partners use, and to create their own content online that helps promote their partners. In the age of social media as mass content distribution channels, this is possibly more important than it has ever been before, and The Momentum Group is proud to be stepping up to help Shift Up Now Athletes cover these costs.”

Photography supported by The Momentum Group can be found in the Shift Up Now Athletes At Large Album, and in Laura Hayes’ MX5 Cup Album on the Shift Up Now website, and on Shift Up Now social media channels.