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Shift Up Now Foundation announces grants for 4 female racers

The Shift Up Now Foundation awarded its 2024 grants to four female athletes: Laura Hayes, Michele Abbate, Loni Unser and Sabré Cook.


Shift Up Now
Photo credits: Shift Up Now Foundation

Launched at the end of 2022, the Shift Up Now Foundation awarded last year its first ever sponsorship grants to outstanding female drivers - will continue to make a difference in supporting female athletes in 2024, as it announced grants for four racers for the current season.


Alongside its for-profit activity, Shift Up Now launched the Foundation in order to accept tax-deductible gifts, donations and grants, in a further advancement in the organization’s innovative approach. The raised funds are destined to award opportunities to the talented drivers with aptitude to succeed in the sport, including testing and resources to help their careers.


The four recipients of the 2024 Shift Up Now Foundation's grants come from different racing backgrounds and compete in diverse series: Laura Hayes, Michele Abbate, Loni Unser and Sabré Cook.


Hayes is set to use the grant's funding to cover vehicle expenses and insurance for her Mobil 1 Toyota Supra GT4 Evo at the 102nd edition of the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event.


“I'm so honored to be a Shift Up Now Foundation grant recipient,” said Hayes, who has previously raced in the Mazda MX-5 Cup and is currently competing in the endurance championship World Racing League, with her own Thunder Bunny Racing team.

“Missing the hill climb last year was more painful than I'd anticipated, so I've been determined to make it back to Colorado. With the introduction of the new GT4 Division presented by Yokohama, I couldn't be more excited to pilot one of our Toyota Supra GT4's to 14,000 feet. I certainly wouldn't be able to pull this off without Shift Up Now's support. I'm very grateful!”


Also a Mazda MX-5 Cup alumni, Loni Unser has raced in World Racing League in the past couple of seasons, before making the step up to the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America series in 2024, in the Cayman GT4 category under the banner of Kelly Moss.

Unser will use her grant funds to cover travel expenses for the seven race weekends.


“I am so grateful for Shift Up Now,” said Unser. “Without their help, I wouldn't have had nearly as many of the opportunities I have been afforded. By making the most of these opportunities I feel as though I am better able to use them to inspire others to do the same.” Unser has performed well on her series debut at Sebring and is eyeing more progress throughout the year.


Michele Abbate is set to return to the Trans Am Series TA2 category for 8 out of 12 rounds - and the Shift Up Now Foundation grant will help to keep her in competitive equipment with Nitro Motorsport.


"I am incredibly grateful to be selected as a Shift Up Now Foundation grant recipient,” Abbate commented. “Because without the support - and help from my sponsors - I would have one less race on my 2024 schedule.”


After missing out on the final part of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America season in 2023 due to an injury, Sabré Cook is back behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 992 car in an Pro entry run by MDK Motorsports.

Cook's 2023 Shift Up Now Foundation grant has therefore been deferred to allow her to return to the highly-competitive series, after showing great speed in the partial 2023 campaign, which saw the GT rookie claiming several top ten finishes.


An accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway cut her season short, when an injury prevented her from contesting the final rounds. She will now have the opportunity to use the grant's funds to continue her positive trajectory in the Porsche one make series.


"It means a lot to have the Shift Up Now Foundation grant me support for the 2024 season,” said Cook. “My 2023 was cut short after my massive crash at Indianapolis last year, so it's been really helpful that the Foundation has allowed me to transfer my grant to the 2024 season instead. Every penny makes a difference in my racing budget, so I'm thankful for the help the grant is providing, so I can keep racing and have better equipment when doing so.”


Shift Up Now and the Shift Up Now Foundation continue to strive for gender equality for female athletes in motorsport and these concrete actions are proof of concept.

Further information on how to contribute to the program can be found at http://www.shiftupnow.org/

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