When Worlds Collide: Racing and the Shift Up Now NFT Project

March 14, 2023

By Julia Landauer

People’s reaction to the term NFT is varied: Excitement, cynicism, confusion. Mine is enthusiasm and I’m eager to share why.

My name is Julia Landauer. I’m a two-time champion racer and Shift Up Now Athlete, and I’m helping Shift Up Now launch its first NFT projects. My journey into NFTs started in 2021, and has become a multi-level part of my brand and platform. If you’ve ever seen the hashtag #BecauseRacecar, it’s fitting for how I got involved with NFTs.

In 2020, I lived in Europe for three months, competing in the COVID-impacted Whelen EuroNASCAR Series. I finished fifth in points, the highest-ever for an American. I was excited to return to the series in 2021, aiming to get my first Euro win and fight for the championship. 

So, when my team owner called to tell me that the financial toll on the team from COVID was too much and they wouldn’t be racing in 2021, I was heartbroken. I found myself with no real racing prospects for the season.

After years of working hard to climb the NASCAR ladder, I felt stuck, disheartened and concerned for my racing future. While I did some local grassroots racing in the summer of 2021, I mainly spent my time pitching sponsorship for 2022 racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and giving corporate keynotes. It was during that season that I also started learning about NFTs.

As a STEM enthusiast with a Bachelor of Science in a technology driven sport, I wanted to learn more about NFTs because I didn’t really understand blockchain technology. Then I saw some of my artist friends selling their work on the blockchain as NFTs. Along the way, my mentor told me about various communities that used NFTs as “member tokens” for community involvement.

I read a lot more about the blockchain, NFTs and crypto (what we call Web3). I bought, sold and created NFTs, and got involved in a lot of Web3 communities, primarily on Discord. I wasn’t really looking at it as a financial investment opportunity. Rather, I wanted to support artists and buy membership for involvement in cool communities in this new industry.

In February 2022, I learned about GarageXYZ, a Web3 community of racing and car enthusiasts. The really intriguing thing about them was that they were about to launch their NFT collection from Ian Wood. This included beautiful, elegant, almost-whimsical photographs of all kinds of cars. Aesthetically, I thought they were wonderful, and the founders seemed cool, so I DMed them to get involved.

In my initial discussion with the founders, I learned that one of their goals was to engage their community members with in-real-life (IRL) experiences around racing. I was confident that my (hopefully-soon-to-be) platform in the Xfinity Series could benefit their goals. After hanging up from the call, I decided to shoot my shot and pitch them on sponsorship.

It worked, they said yes! Plus, with their initial commitment, I was able to pitch a separate NFT community to be another sponsor for the race. Boss Beauties, which empowers women to be everything they want (including race car drivers) was on board too. I became the first NASCAR racer to be sponsored by NFTs!

After the first race, I secured more sponsorship from other NFT communities. ATEM Car Club, House of First’s Remarkable Women and OnChainMonkey were on board for my second Xfinity race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

I never would have guessed that getting involved in NFTs would lead to me racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It was so cool to bridge my worlds of racing, empowerment, community and technology in a way that benefited so many people. 

After the success of my partnerships and the growth of Web3, I thought more about Web3’s synergies with racing. There’s a lot of potential for more motorsports entities to get involved in – and benefit from – the Web3 ecosystem, from fan engagement to VIP opportunities to diversified revenue streams.

Plus, there are a lot of racing fans in the Web3 world and so much of Web3 is collaborative; We see groups of people helping onboard others, and many investors appreciate that Web3 and NFTs allow them to buy into projects that directly help others.

So, I created a Web3 consulting company. FrontRunner helps motorsports entities activate in Web3. In regards to Shift Up Now, Pippa Mann and I have discussed the importance of bringing visibility to Athletes. This means adding a revenue stream for funding, and investing back in the Shift Up Now supporters with beautiful visual representations of Athletes and their race cars.

Shift Up Now is creating two NFT collections: The Racers Collection 1 and The Race Car Collection 1. A total of 100 unique 1/1 NFTs will be available to mint (buy), and proceeds will go back to Shift Up Now and its Athletes.

Whether you’re a racing enthusiast, a Web3 native or you’re simply on board with the mission of supporting women in racing, we’d love for you to join us in pioneering this venture into the NFT space. The launch date of the NFT collections will be April 4th, and you can read more about our first venture into the NFT space here.

Want to learn more about the Web3 space? Join me for an informational Shift Up Now NFT webinar on March 27, 2023 at 8 pm ET. Register here: https://lu.ma/ShiftUpNowNFTWebinar

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