The class that debuted at the 2017 25 Hours of Thunderhill hasn’t yet attracted the kind of participation we like to see, but it did capture the attention of Erin Vogel, who purchased an Audi R8 LMS GT4, assembled a team of women drivers for Jester & Babbitt Motorsports with Flying Lizard and enlisted pit support from the Lizard team.
Vogel’s team was the only one registered in GTC in 2018, so, obviously, they went on to take the class win. What’s notable is that they nearly finished on the podium for the overall win, taking fourth overall, just eight laps behind third.
That didn’t mean the race went exactly to plan. The team suffered tire punctures, which prompted unscheduled pit stops.
“We actually had two or three tire punctures, but a lot of time it’s just the buildup that’s on the track,” said driver Ashton Harrison. “Our tires were incredible. We used a lot of the soft and medium compound of the Toyos. So, we picked up something that punctured the tire. There’s nothing we can do about it. We came in and our team literally had that sucker changed in no time, and we never lost any time. Sometimes they timed it in a way where we got a driver change done, too, so that was pretty nice.”
Team principal Erin Vogel put the whole thing together after seeing Team Shift Up Now assemble all-women-driver teams for two cars. Because those teams had all the drivers they needed, Vogel decided to form a league of her own, so to speak. Vogel drove for the Jester & Babbitt team, as did GTD IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champion Christina Nielsen, Pirelli World Challenge driver Aurora Straus, Global MX-5 Cup driver Ashton Harrison and Pirelli GT3 Cup driver Laura Ely. Vogel put the team together in the late fall of 2018.
“That’s almost too late to start. It’s been a little bit hectic,” Vogel said. “Getting all the pieces of the puzzle together in terms of crew, and hotels for the drivers, getting the drivers in place. Our suits came in at the last second, and everything was a little bit more last-second than we probably would have wanted it to be, but we’re here and we’ve got everything we need. We’re getting good time in the car and we’re having a great time.”