Abby Hempy Launches Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge Team

Gang…this is just the type of story that I really love.  A young woman who has ambition, passion, and skills, pursuing a life in motorsport.  Don’t laugh — you’d be amazed at how many F1 and top tier sports car racing teams have women in their top engineering, managerial and operational spots.  Something tells me Abby might have those kind of chops…we’ll see how her team does in this interesting racing competition this fall, and where she can take things from there. — MS

BMW Art Car-Inspired Engineering Project to Benefit Local Dance Studio
HOUGHTON, Mich (June 23, 2020) “If you walked into my house, you would immediately notice the
paintings: one on every wall. Art, in all forms, is important to me. Studying at school for hours on end daily
sometimes feels like a full-time job and my ‘escape’ after-hours is often painting. I dig out acrylic tubes,
select brushes, and brainstorm before a white canvas as I let stress stream down the brush bristles onto
blank fabric. I don’t think, I just do.”
Abby Hempy is that rare find: a leftbrain, mechanically-inclined student.
She loves cars as much as dancing and
lives a dynamic life as a second-year
master’s student studying Mechanical
Engineering at Michigan Technological
University while spending her
evenings at the Superior School of
Dance with the 47 North Bellydance
Troupe. Outside of her research work
on torque converters for Ford Motor
Co., she likes to spend her free time
exploring the Keweenaw, welding,
painting, sewing, and dancing. Her
motorsports history includes the
Gambler 500, demolition derbies, and
dirt-track races.
Now comes her biggest challenge –
completing a car for the Grassroots
Motorsports $2000 Challenge in just
four months while raising the budget
of $2020 + travel expenses. Why $2020? Grassroots Motorsports (GRM) magazine started the
competition in the year 2000, and has increased the budget by $1 a year.
“Why did you buy a BMW for this? I want you to be set for success, not coolant leaks!” A fellow gearhead
friend had told her. Abby registered a 1998 528i BMW for the GRM $2000 Challenge not only out of
nostalgia for a 1984 533i that she had in high school, but for creating artwork. BMW had commissioned a
project in 1975 to encourage world-renowned artists to use a race car competing at the 24 Hours of Le
Mans as a canvas. The most recent art car was in 2017 with a fantastic design by Cao Fei. Many other
designs included work from Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jenny Holzer, Frank Stella, and David
Hockney. Abby’s team, aptly-named Onofrio Pollock Racing, is inspired by Rochester, MN local mixedmedia artist Judy Onofrio and famous painter Jackson Pollock. Abby plans to use her now-white BMW as
a means to express her artwork. We haven’t seen a draft design yet, but heard hints of mosaic and
copper as a head-nod to the Copper Country in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Abby Hempy, crew chief of Onofrio Pollock Racing, pictured with the car-in-progress
This year’s Grassroots Motorsports $2,000 Challenge takes place in Gainesville, Florida October 23-24
where the car will endure an autocross and drag race. There will also be a judging portion to discuss
alterations, budget, and appearance. Abby intends to make her trip to the event in the racecar itself and
stop along the way to visit sponsors and companies to display the artwork.
Abby is working hard to raise at least $3,500 for the program, $2,020 for the car, plus the needed travel
expenses, gas money, and tools. While this is a tiny budget for a racecar, it’s a big number for a fulltime college student. Abby intends to make good use of any excess funds provided to Onofrio Pollock
Racing by donating it to the Superior School of Dance in Hancock, MI. Anything donated in excess of the
$3,500 project budget will go toward scholarships given to graduating dancers to provide them support
in pursuing education. Abby hopes to inspire young students interested in art to see the creative side of
While Abby is 100% running the team, she has secured key advisors to mentor the team including race
driver Sarah Montgomery, who is a Shift Up Now Ambassador, tire engineer Ashley Gliss from Michelin
North America, and motorsports consultant Dean Case, who is a part of the SAE Industrial Lecture
program. Her current crew consists of her elected driver: a MTU alumni currently working at the
Advanced Power Systems Laboratory, Tucker Alsup, and two former SAE Baja students, John Bloom and
Jonathon Lindfors. Other volunteers include Walker Nelson and Apurva Baruah, two fellow mechanical
engineering graduate students.
Abby will be showcasing the build of the car and the competition via the Onofrio Pollock Racing
Facebook page.
You can reach out to provide donations via Venmo by
visiting Onofrio Pollock Racing on Facebook or e-mailing
the team at
Individual contributions of $50 will receive a team t-shirt
and a space for a hand-painted sponsor name on the
car. Company contributions of $200 or more will receive
the resume-book of team members and a company
sticker on the car.
Onofrio Pollock Racing is solely an extracurricular activity
and is not a Michigan Tech sponsored student group.