Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge Team

Abby Hempy has recently launched the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge Team BMW Art Car-Inspired Engineering Project to Benefit Local Dance Studio in Houghton, Michigan.

Entering Hempy’s home, one would immediately notice all the paintings, notes Hempy. One on every wall. “Art, in all forms, is important to me,” says Hempy. Her “escape” from studying at school for hours every day feels like a full-time job, she says. The way she breaks up the monotony is often by painting. Hempy shares that she will “dig out acrylic tubes, select brushes, and brainstorm before a white canvas” as she lets the stress stream down the brush bristles onto blank fabric. Without really thinking, says Hempy, she just does it.abby-race-car-driver

A rare person, Abby Hempy is a left-brain, mechanically-inclined thinker. Her love for cars is as strong as her love for dancing. Studying Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University, Abby is a second-year master’s student who spends her evening at the Superior School of Dance, participating in the 47 North Bellydance Troupe!

At the same time, she is doing research on torque converters for Ford Motor Co. During her “free time,” she explores the Keweenaw, paints, welds, dances and sews! So far, her motorsports history includes the Gambler 500, demolition derbies and dirt-track races. Her biggest challenge though is coming up and will include completing a car for the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge. In only four months, she is raising $2,020 and travel expenses so that she may compete

Grassroots Motorsports (GRM) magazine started the competition in the year 2000 and has increased the budget by $1 a year. A BMW, says Abby, was a choice of the ‘best automobile available” if she wanted to be successful. So, she registered her 1998 528i BMW for the GRM $2000 race. Her vehicle choice also included a little nostalgia for a 1984 533i she drove in high school, as well as creating artwork. In 1975, BMW commissioned a project to encourage work-renowned artists to use a race car to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a canvas.

The most recent art car was in 2017, designed by Cao Fei. Other designs included work from such artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jenny Holzer, Frank Stella and David Hockney. Abby’s team-name Onofrio Pollock Racing, is inspired by Rochester, MN local mixed-media artist Judy Onofrio, and famous painter Jackson Pollock.

Abby’s white BMW will be a means for her to express her artwork. Still under wraps, the BMW is rumored to have hints of mosaic and copper as a nod to Copper country in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The GRE $2000 Challenge will take place in Gainesville, FL this year, October 23-24. The BMW will compete in an autocross and drag race. A judging portion will take place, discussing alterations, budget and appearance. Abby will get to the event by driving the BMW itself, stopping along the way to visit sponsors and supporters to display the artwork.

Abby wants to raise $3,500 for the program, $2,020 for the car, and money for travel expenses, gas and tools. A small budget-it would seem-for anyone involved in car racing, it seems like a lot to a struggling college student! Any money left over will go to the Superior School of Dance in MI, to help fund graduating dancers pursuing their education. Abby’s aim is to not only support their career, but also to teach them the creative side of engineering.

Assisting Abby to run the team are key advisors who will serve as mentors. Those experts include driver Sarah Montgomery, the Shift Up Now Ambassador, tire engineer Ashley Gliss from Michelin North America, and Dean Case, motorsports consultant and part of the SAE Industrial Lecture Program.tshirtonofrio

Other members of the crew include her chosen driver Tucker Alsup of Advanced Power Systems Laboratory, and two former Baja students John Bloom and Jonathon Lindforts. In addition to the ‘experts,’ there are volunteers and mechanical engineering graduate students.

If you’re interested in learning more and witnessing the building of the car, go to the Onofrio Pollock Racing Facebook page. If you’re so motivated to donate to the cause, go to Venmo. You can also email the team at One can make a contribution of $50 and get a t-shirt and space for a hand-painted sponsor name on the car! Contributors of $200 or more receive the resume-book of team members and company sticker.

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