It may be the off-season but it sure doesn’t feel like it! The Grr Racing team has been very busy since their last race, and last weekend brought an exciting new experience to the team. Driver Michele Abbate made her debut in the iconic 25 hours of Thunderhill NASA endurance race with support from the Shift Up Now team and the HQ Autosport Racing team. Grr Racing’s Crew Chief Anthony Philleo also took on a team role during the race weekend.
The effort was put forward a few months back when Shift Up Now introduced Michele to the HQ Autosport team. Testing took place mid-year and the team came together with three Shift Up Now drivers and two from HQ Autosport. The drive line up consisted of: Michele Abbate, Pete Engels, Sarah Montgomery, Loni Unser, and Travis Weltzien.
Montgomery was put in the car for qualifying which took place after sun down and was accompanied by the heaviest down pour that the entries would see all weekend. She was able to secure a P3 starting spot on the E2 class, P14 overall. The entire 25 hour race was broadcast live on youtube from inside the #28 HQ Autosport/Shift Up Now BMW 128i.
The team took the green and had a nice clean start, although an early off and got them stuck in the mud putting them several laps down less than two hours into the race. They spent the better half of the race making up this time with clean pit stops for fueling and driver changes. After midnight the team was in 4th place chasing down the 3rd position. One of Michele’s stint was around 4:00am in the pitch darkness, “I’ve never seen a race track with these conditions, let along been racing on one! There was so much mud everywhere, and it was thick mud that would lift the car and skid at any speed. At one point I was behind a slower mustang who was throwing up so much mud I thought I was back with Rookie Motorsports racing in the Vegas to Reno off-road race!” she laughed.
With less than two hours to go the team made their way up to the P3 position in class and 9th overall. A few emergency pit stops were made and a unexpected change to the driver line up left Pete Engels at the wheel for a 4 hour stint to take the checkered flag in the P4 position for E2 and 10th overall.
“This was such an amazing experience and this team is comprised of some really great people. We all worked together to get to the checkered and I had such a blast making this my first time at the 25, and I am proud of our efforts,” Abbate shared.
As the year comes to an end the team is headed to Indianapolis this weekend for the Performance Racing Industry Show. Stay tuned for 2020 announcements coming soon!