Friday, April 14, 2017

Spoils Go To The Canadian Victor At The 43rd Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' James Hinchcliffe driving the No. 5 Honda Dallara DW12 IndyCar celebrates with his red-gloved fist in the air as he wins his first Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2017)

Spoils Go To The Canadian Victor At The 43rd Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach

Victory takes on many forms when one perseveres through the struggles of being a top-level race car driver in a top-level racing series.

It had been two years since Oakville, Ontario's James Hinchcliffe stood at the middle and top spot of a podium platform at the end of a Verizon IndyCar Series contest held at the "one-of" race held in the rain at NOLA Motorsports Park outside of New Orleans. Just soon after this momentous fourth win in IndyCar, James suffered a major life-threatening puncture to his left upper thigh reaching up into the pelvic area through a Turn 3 crash at 220mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during INDY 500 practice.

Driving the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Hinchcliffe collected the first pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series career in what will be his 79th race, edging Josef Newgarden for the honor by a mere 0.0407 of a second over the 10-mile run. Image Credit: IndyCar (2016)

Recovery and the drive in James Hinchcliffe to continue in this passion of driving a race car at the highest levels of competition were rewarded one-year and three days later when he captured his first ever Verizon P1 Pole Award at the very same track that almost killed him.

As icing on this cake, it came at the celebration of the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. True grit was shown because James put together this scintillating four-lap run of 230.760 mph as the final driver of the day in the Fast Nine Shootout - no pressure.

James Hinchcliffe gets instructions while in the pits at the 38th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach at the controls of his Andretti Autosport No. 27 Go Daddy Chevrolet DW12 Dallara. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

Hinchcliffe has raced here at Long Beach in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2011 with three different teams - Newman-Haas, Andretti Autosport, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports - and has reached the podium once at P3 in 2012 for Andretti Autosport.

James Hinchcliffe leads Andretti Autosport teammates Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti through the Hairpin Turn before applying the power down the long Shoreline Drive front straight early in the race before all Andretti Autosport cars retire with problems by the race's end. Image Credit: Myles Regan (2017)

This excerpted and edited from CBS NEWS (AP) -

IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe, who nearly died in race, checks big one off bucket list
CBS NEWS (AP) - April 10, 2017, 7:46 AM

Not once did James Hinchcliffe think his career was over after a near-fatal accident in 2015.
At long last, he’s got his first win on the race track since his accident.

Hinchcliffe won a three-lap shootout to the finish Sunday on the streets of Long Beach to win in a Honda for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports. It was the Canadian’s first victory since 2015 at New Orleans, a month before his accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“To finally do what was goal No. 1 when we set out at the start of the season, to get back into winner’s circle, to do so as early in the season as we have, as convincingly as we did, was great,” said Hinchcliffe.
He’ll gladly take it at Long Beach, the most historic street course race in the country.

“After Indy and personally me for Toronto, this is the biggest one to win,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve had a lot of luck here. We’ve been really quick here in the past and to finally get to victory lane here is more than I can put into words. This place has a lot of history, that’s what drivers really care about. The greatest of the greats have won here.

“Toronto, Indy and this place were on my bucket list to win before I die, and it’s nice to check one off.”

Sebastien Bourdais followed his season-opening victory at St. Pete with a second-place finish to give Honda a 1-2 podium finish.

Josef Newgarden was the highest finishing Team Penske driver and was third in a Chevrolet.
[The three-lap shootout] set it up for Hinchcliffe to have to race Bourdais to the finish, but Bourdais was focused on the big picture in the closing laps. Hinchcliffe had gotten off to such a great start when racing resumed, that Bourdais tried only to maintain his running position.

“We played to our strengths and I’ve always been comfortable saving fuel,” Bourdais said. “We lost balance a little bit, and I was really thinking about saving second place. I was thinking championship.”
[Reference Here]

Oh Canada! ... James Hinchcliffe celebrates with Canadian maple leaf flag in Victory Circle as he captures his fifth win in the Verizon IndyCar Series sharing the podium with Frenchman and four-time champion, Sebastien Bourdais and American Josef Newgarden. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)

Complete Race Description By  HERE >>>
Verizon IndyCar Series Box Score HERE >>>

For many who race at the highest levels in autosport, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB), after running as an event for 43 years and exclusively the home of American open-wheel racing for for 33, is the considered to be "INDY 500 of street courses."

James Hinchcliffe expressed this attitude and feeling about the TGPLB with the following comment, "We worked hard this off-season to perfect the package we had. Good speed at a lot of races last year. To roll off the first two races of the season, being in the Fast Six both times, if not for a caution falling for the wrong time at St. Pete, could have been in the top five or on podium there. To do it here and finally at this place, a track that I love so much, a track that's been very good to me in my career, one that I think is the Indy 500 of street tracks, it's the second longest running race after the 500. I think because of that history, it makes it a very special event, one that every driver wants to win. The greats have all raced here, the greats have all won here. To get in the winner's circle was huge."

Additional points of order to history as a race car driver from Canada are reflected in a bit of everything James Hinchcliffe does, from the number on his car - No. 5, which he now has as the number of wins in IndyCar matching the marks set by Greg Moore, Jacques Villeneuve, and Patrick Carpentier.

Champagne bath provided to winner James Hinchcliffe by three-time winner of the TGPLB Sebastien Bourdais who came in P2. Josef Newgarden takes a swig on the podium at P3, his first Podium since becoming a Penske Chevrolet driver. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)

Additional Post Race Quotes From James Hinchcliffe:

“If someone told me after NOLA last year that five wins was the number Greg had, the number Jacques Villeneuve had, and I believe the number Patrick Carpentier had. Only PT is higher than that in the list of Canadians in in IndyCar racing. To drive at a level with those guys, I mean, it’s tough to put into words”

“Greg was a huge motivation and a huge inspiration to me as a child. I followed Jacques’ career religiously. When Pat and Greg were teammates, followed Pat as well, to now be level with those guys is incredible.

“You know what, when I came into this sport, I felt a huge responsibility, to be honest, to keep up the good name that Canadian drivers had in IndyCar. There haven’t been a ton of us. The ones that have been here have been race winners, they’ve been contenders week in and week out. I wanted to maintain that, you know, record for Canada, not be the guy that let us down.”

AND ... about the Red Gloves with the Canadian flag and HINCH emblazoned on them, raised high in victory? A tribute to the shortened career of Greg Moore.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Red Gloves, Greg Moore, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, Paul Tracy, #TGPLB43, No. 5, Arrow, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, The EDJE

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pirelli World Challenge's 2017 "Roar By The Shore" Re-Titled To "A River Runs Through It"

Alvaro Parente, a 32-year-old driver from Porto, Portugal driving his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S, held off a turn one challenge by local star Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., driving the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R and extended his winning margin at the checkered flag to 2.86 seconds in a wild event that saw flooding between turns eight and nine due to a fire hydrant incident from off track on Ocean Blvd.. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)

Pirelli World Challenge's 2017 "Roar By The Shore" Re-Titled To "A River Runs Through It" 

The Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) is noted to bring a level of competition in sport car racing that delivers strong yet unexpected results. This third race of the 2017 PWC series season follows two races in Saint Petersburg Florida when the Verizon IndyCar Series also opened its 2017 season ... also by the shore.

But, hey, The Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach is squarely based in the land of fruits and nuts ... and Hollywood productions, so why not just script something memorable into this special sportscar racing mix. After all, this event is the longest continuous running temporary street course on the IndyCar schedule which has become a "Rites Of Spring" hallmark event in American motor culture.

On Lap 10 of the 50 minute timed race, as if on cue to bring in a very unique course hazard, not too dissimilar to golf course sand traps, someone up the hill on Ocean Blvd. ran over and broke a fire hydrant causing a massive amount of water to flow across the back straight between Turn 8 and Turn 9, setting up a potential for additional destruction due to a hydroplaning kind of skim-boarding (aero-sealed racing undercarriages) at well over 100 mph.

How cool ... professional auto racing with the unexpected addition of a water feature.

Water hazard interrupts Round 3 PWC race course. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)

Alvaro Parente, who got off to a very tight start from his pole qualifying position, was leading the race at the time with Patrick Long, winner of round two at St. Petersburg, in his No. 58 911 GT3-R close in tow.

"That was a little crazy with the water on the track," said the Portuguese born Parente in the post race press conference. "I went into that turn [Turn 8] and all of a sudden there was a river in front of me, so I just went foot off throttle, and prayed that I wouldn’t crash or anything, and just skidded through the puddle. It was last-minute for me; you’re flat out on that straight and suddenly you see a black shadow there, the water from the fire hydrant."

As for longtime factory Porsche competitor and local racer Long running in P2, "It was probably 20 feet of running water and with slick tires at 140 mph, that’s not what you want to see. It’s one of those situations where you sort of just stay calm, sort of relax, and let it end. I’m happy we didn’t have an incident and everyone responded really well, so hats off to the track and World Challenge series for their handling of an unnatural disaster. But, that’s Long Beach and that’s street racing. This series is about sprint racing and everybody’s racing hard."

Jim Jordan, a manufacturer motorsports executive for over 25 years in various roles and currently is a part of the Pirelli World Challenge management posted this on his Facebook timeline:

My good friends know I have always valued collecting experiences more than anything else. This season I have taken on a new responsibility in race control for the Pirelli World Challenges races. Not particularly complicated but I serve as the communications link between Race Control and the TV production crew. Most times this means fairly simple communications.

Today not so much. During the middle of our GT/GTA race at Long Beach there was an accident on Ocean Blvd where a vehicle wiped out a fire hydrant. We did not know this of course, but the corner workers quickly reported a "flood" coming down to the track!

All hands on deck! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)

It was a weird situation, and the team did an amazing job of reacting without over reacting, fixing, communicating, and only losing 1 minute total of racing [Red Flag - 15 minutes]. It was very impressive to see the way the group worked together, from the track crew, to IndyCar [Holmatro Safety Team], to SCCA Cornerworkers, IMS Productions, and the WCVision staff. Very fun to have been a part of, and I imagine it will go down in "racing lore," the Long Beach Flood!

Full Race Results >>>

Naw, this 43 year old Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach venue deserves a water feature hazard incident with the verve of a Hollywood title - "A River Runs Through It."

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Pirelli World Challenge, Long Beach, roar by the shore, a river runs through it, Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, Alvaro Parente, K-PAX Racing, Patrick Long, Wright Motorsports, Bryan Sellers, Jim Jordan, Holmatro Safety Team, Water, The EDJE

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Early Season Talk With The Mayor, James Hinchcliffe, Before #TGPLB43

Early Season Talk With The Mayor, James Hinchcliffe, Before #TGPLB43

James Hinchcliffe drives the No. 5 Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

He has four IndyCar wins to date and captured his first career pole at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May 2016, just one year after his season-ending accident. This is amazing since he suffered life-threatening injuries in a practice crash for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 which ended his season after only five races.

Driving in the pinnacle of American open-wheel racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2011, he has participated in 82 races, and has managed to be in the top 10 in 60 of these contests, finishing in the top 5 20 times, or roughly a 25% top competition return rate, every time he steps into the cockpit - which is pretty awesome in anyone's book.

James has also driven at the top level in full-bodied sports cars driving most recently in the Rolex24 at Daytona for Mazda in endurance team racing where drivers assigned to a car take turns at the wheel throughout a 24 hour period.

Off the track he is known by the social media moniker as "The Mayor Of Hinchtown", where he commands a community of friends who love to follow James as he pursues his many varied interests in life - Racing, Sponsor Events, Dancing With The Stars competition - where he was runner-up, a brewer of his namesake Hinchtown Hammerdown Ale, a craft beer from Flat12 Bierwerks in Indianapolis. This was originally brewed only during the month of May in Indianapolis, as a promotion, but now is available year-round across Indiana, Kentucky and his native Ontario, Canada, and to top this, he is an avid collector of guitars and lighters where he boasts a collection of lighters dating back to the 1930s.

WELCOME 30 year old professional race car driver from Oakville, Ontario Canada - a suburb just East of Toronto, James Hinchcliffe ...

First, tell us a little about Arrow Electronics and some of the background behind your overall sponsorship for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

After, what seemed like an eternity, the Verizon IndyCar Series came back into action with the first race of the 2017 season with the trditional opening race at St. Petersburg where you qualified P3 behind Will Power and Scott Dixon and finsihed P9. Tell us about your thinking and what you learned in the pre-season practices and then with the race at St. Pete - racing in the NEW Honda package.

We are going into the second race of the season at the rites of spring event on the West coast in Long Beach. Another temporary street course with great history over the 42 previous years that it has run. In the six previous years that you have run the race, you were able to get on the podium once, and register to 10's 3 times counting the podium - What are your impressions of this venue and what will it take to hit the podium again?

At the end of the month, the springtime swing to the Southwest becomes complete with a second race in the modern era at Phoenix International Raceway. This is the first dedicated oval on the schedule before going into the Month Of May at Indianapolis. Being a short 1 mile, low-banked tri-oval race track, how do you see the new Honda package will be able to fare given that the highest placing Honda last year was the one driven by Graham Rahal at P5?

Is it your impression that the Hondas are getting out of the corner a bit better - what is the reason you see as the strength of the Honda surge?

You went to the Rolex24 at Daytona and drove in one of the new Mazda Prototypes, tell me a little about your impressions about the car and the effort - change in development through driving.

Lastly, civic leaders of a community usually start out the year with a proclamation or two on what they would like to accomplish in the community during the coming year - As the mayor of Hinchtown, what proclamations did you issue and communicate to the hordes of Hinchtown - on, or off the track.

Thanks James - best of luck at the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, the Month Of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as the rest of the year ending in wine country at Sonoma.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, James Hinchcliffe, No. 5, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, HPD, #TGPLB43, The EDJE

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

“Roar By The Shore” Shootout Expected This Sunday In Long Beach.

World’s Most Exotic Sports Cars Featured in Premier U.S. Street Race

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 3, 2017) – The annual trek to the streets of Long Beach is always brought with enthusiasm for the Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTA teams and drivers and the 2017 “Roar by the Shore” is no different with the 43rd edition of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach set for April 7-9 in the PWC Grand Prix of Long Beach presented by Optima Batteries. 

Featuring the fine line of precision driving between the concrete walls and aggressive all-out pursuit to win, the PWC competitors thrill the large contingent of racing fans each year over the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary road circuit around the Long Beach Arena and Convention Center complex with North America’s premier GT Production-based road racing campaign. 

This weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge field is another outstanding list of sports car stars and their exotic machinery from Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Cadillac, Mercedes, Audi, Bentley, Aston Martin and Acura, which features the all-new NSX GT3.    

GT Preview – Superb GT field of drivers and cars should give fans thrills in 50-minute sprint race 

The most important street race in the United States – the 43rd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – brings another stellar GT field this weekend with the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presented by Optima Batteries and some of the world’s finest sports car drivers and their wild machines. 

Leading the list of contenders for Sunday’s 50-minute sprint race will be the defending Long Beach winner and reigning PWC GT champion Alvaro Parente of Porto, Portugal in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S.  Parente, a six-race winner in 2016, had never seen the tight Long Beach temporary course before his 2016 appearance but the personable factory McLaren racer left little doubt in qualifying with a track-record pole position speed. 

In the 50-minute event, Parente led early before four-time PWC GT champion Johnny O’Connell took his red No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. to the front on lap 15.  O’Connell took the checkered flag that day but lost the win in post-race tech inspection.  It was Parente taking his first PWC GT victory when all was said and done.  And O’Connell, the four-time Le Mans winner from Flowery Branch, Ga., was penalized to second. 

Both drivers will return for another street fight this weekend along with the 2011 PWC GT champion and local star Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., in his No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Long and Parente won the opening GT races in 2017 in the streets of St. Petersburg last month. 

Joining O’Connell, the 2014 Long Beach GT winner, on the Cadillac Racing team will be young Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., in the blue No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R., who finished third in the 2016 GT points and scored two race wins. 

A strong list of veteran contenders will be in the mix at Long Beach including Ryan Dalziel of Scotland and Bryan Sellers of Braselton, Ga., who’ll handle double duty in the PWC and IMSA events. Dalziel will pilot the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes AMG GT3 in Sunday’s feature, while Sellers will drive the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S.   

Joining Dalziel and Sellers in the veteran lineup will be former sports car champion Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Stallings Racing “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R, Pierre Kaffer of Germany in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi RS 8 LMS, Ryan Eversley of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3, Peter Kox of the Netherlands in the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 and Daniel Mancinelli of Italy, St. Pete GT pole winner, in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. 

Another Ferrari challenger at Long Beach will be St. Pete Round 2 pole winner Alex Riberas of Spain in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3. Riberas was impressive in his PWC GT debut with third and fourth place finishes at St. Petersburg. 

Young GT star Adderly Fong of Hong Kong brings the popular No. 88 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to Long Beach as Fong attempts to repeat his podium performances from 2016.  Also entered in the Sunday PWC main event is the No. 11 Dime Racing entry with the driver and car to be name this week. 

Alec Udell Moves Up to GT Category for Long Beach Pirelli World Challenge Weekend

Alec Udell, the 21-year-old Clemson University mechanical engineering student, captured the 2016 GT Cup title with 12 wins and moved to the GTA division at St. Petersburg last month.  And The Woodlands, Tex., driver didn’t disappoint with two impressive pole positions and two class victories.  

In fact, Udell recorded the fourth fastest lap time overall in the GT/GTA/GT Cup Round 2 event at St. Pete and ran in the Top 5 for the first half of the 50-minute sprint contest.  Due to that sensational performance, it has been determined by the PWC stewards and PWC race director Dorsey Schroeder that Udell will compete in the GT division at this weekend’s Long Beach GT Round 3.  

Udell drives for the local Southern California-based team of GMG Motorsports and will wheel the No. 17 GMG/Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. 

GTA Preview – Solid lineup of veterans and youngsters should have great races in 2017

A great contingent of veterans and youngsters will make up the GTA class this weekend at Long Beach including two-time Long Beach PWC winner James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.  Sofronas captured PWC honors in the 2009 and 2013 Long Beach contests. 

Michael Schein, a six-time 2016 winner, is expected to battle the GTA at Long Beach with the sister car to Long’s Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Schein drove the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche to two second place finishes at St. Petersburg. 
Joining Sofronas and Schein in the veteran GTA listings for Long Beach will be Mike Hedlund of Redwood City, Calif., in the pretty No. 98 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S, Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and John Potter in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS.
Other young drivers entered in the GTA division at Long Beach include personable Jorge de la Torre of McAllen, Texas, in the No. 04 De la Torre Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3, local driver Yufeng Luo of Arcadia, Calif., in the No. 78 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and former Indy Lights racer Pablo Perez Companc of Buenos Aires, Argentina in the No. 69 Champ 1 Mercedes AMG GT3.

Streets of Long Beach, Calif: 
14-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street course
Friday, April 7 
3:30 -- 4:30 p.m., GT-GTA Practice 

Saturday, April 8
8:45 – 9:00 a.m., GT-GTA Practice 

Saturday, April 8
9:10 – 9:25 a.m., GT-GTA Qualifying (Group 1)
9:30 – 9:45 a.m., GT-GTA Qualifying (Group 2)

Race Length: 
50 minutes (GT/GTA)
Sunday, March 12
10:00 – 10:50 a.m. GT-GTA Race 

All times listed above are Pacific Daylight Time
Television (on CBS Sports Network, Same-Day Coverage):  
GT/GTA: April 9, 2:30 p.m. (EDT) 11:30 a.m. (PDT)

Story Courtesy: Tom Blattler of PWC.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tanner Gray wins his First Ptro-Stock Race. In Vegas no less.


Las Vegas, Nevada (April 3) - 13 days before his 18th birthday rookie Tanner Gray earned his first wally in Pro Stock at the 18th Annual Denso Spark Plug NHRA Nationals and becomes the youngest professional driver in NHRA history to win a national event.

Tanner defeated Deric Kramer in the opening round of eliminations Sunday, current point’s leader Greg Anderson in the quarterfinals, and the 2016 World Champion Jason Line in the semi-finals before taking a huge starting line advantage in the final against Bo Butner.  

Tanner moved “all-in” in each of the 4 rounds Sunday, with an average reaction time of .017 seconds including a near perfect .001 in the quarter finals against Anderson. “It is my job as a driver to perform on the tree. I let Dave (Connolly) and his guys make the calls and trust that they have given me a good race car.”

“Dave (Connolly) has this car running really well and we saw that all weekend.” Tanner continues, “In qualifying he was able to make some adjustments that really paid off today.”

Tanner Gray’s teammate, and father, Shane Gray also had a successful weekend. Gray runner up in Saturday’s Pro Stock specialty race: the K&N Horsepower Challenge and nearly missed an opportunity to face son Tanner in the semifinals on Sunday. Gray’s race day ended when he met Jason Line in the quarter finals and ran an ET of 6.732 seconds at 205.91 mph to Line’s ET of 6.695 seconds at 206.10 mph.

Running two Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevy Camaro’s help’s crew chief Dave Connolly collect additional data to equip both drivers with the best race car possible.

“We knew the track was going to be hot Saturday and we just tried to race smart,” Connolly said. “With Shane’s (Gray) 3 runs on Saturday, we capitalized on seeing what kind of track conditions we were going to have on Sunday, or at least something similar. I felt like we had the upper hand going into eliminations. With the sun being out and the track getting hotter and hotter, we knew it was going to be tricky but felt comfortable with what we learned from Saturday that led into Sunday’s results.”

There was a true optimism that circled the Gray Motorsports pit all weekend long. Connolly spoke about this optimism, “There are times when you are able to produce impressive ET’s with a pro stock car, but you know things are not right. You know the car is not happy. After Gainesville, we stayed and tested and learned a lot. I felt very comfortable coming into race day, especially with the run we made Q4. The track was 120 plus degrees, and we made great run with what we figured would be our race day set up. Take that confidence and combine it with a driver who we have all the faith in the world in come race day, and these are the results we work towards. Tanner did his job all afternoon and earned this win”

Tanner Gray has always been a spectator at the Denso Spark Plug NHRA nationals until given the opportunity by grandfather, Johnny Gray, at the beginning of the 2017 NHRA season.

“I was pretty nervous coming up. This is something I wanted to do since I was really young and I finally got the opportunity to do it. When I started this deal, I told my dad I wanted to be the youngest Pro Stock winner. To be able to do that feels really cool,” Tanner said.

When asked about being a part of Tanner Gray’s historical moment, Crew Chief Connolly said, “It’s crazy and gratifying all at once. I’ve said this over and over, this is more gratifying standing behind a car watching Tanner (Gray) who is like a brother to me , 17 years old doing what he’s doing. I don’t know if there is anything else that could put a bigger smile on my face. I knew I was going to be excited about this year. Watching him (Tanner Gray) win, along with the reactions of Shane (Gray), Amber (Gray), Johnny (Gray) and Terry (Gray) really meant a lot. We’re a huge family and we care about each other.” Story from Natalie Jahnke of Gray Motorsports.

Monday, April 3, 2017

43rd Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach Media Day Track Ride With GMG's James Sofronas

43rd Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach Media Day Track Ride With GMG's James Sofronas
In A Race Prepared Pirelli World Challenge No. 14 Porsche GT3-R

A two-lap trip around the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach temporary street circuit by Managing Editor of Performance & Racing Tech Talk, Edmund Jenks with Global Motorsports Group (GMG) team owner/competitor James Sofronas driving the GMG race prepared Porsche 911 GT3-R. Video Credit: Edmund Jenks (2017)


Returning for his 15th season of Pirelli World Challenge competition, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) team owner James Sofronas will arrive at next week’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg fully committed to the series’ sprint rounds, continuing his commitment with Porsche Motorsport North America and the venerable Porsche 911 GT3 R. Beyond the five-race sprint championship, however, the team is proud to announce the addition of Porsche Motorsport works driver Laurens Vanthoor for the opening two rounds of the series’ SprintX championship, co-driving with Sofronas in pursuit of overall victory.

“It’s great to be back in the Pirelli World Challenge for another season,” stated Sofronas. “It’s incredible to think of how the series has grown over the years, and it’s been an honor to be a part of it. Our business has grown with it of course, and 2017 looks to be a great continuation of that. Last year we really enjoyed working with the current iteration of the Porsche 911 GT3 R in its first year of development, and headed in to this year we have a very good understanding of what to expect. Of course a big part of that is our relationship with Porsche Motorsport North America, and the addition of Laurens Vanthoor for our opening two SprintX events is a huge demonstration of our mutual commitment to one another. Porsche has been a big part of our business over the years, and bringing in such a talented co-driver is a great opportunity for everyone.
As a team with a rich history of competing with Porsche machinery, GMG and Sofronas’ return to the marque is part of a partnership that has been synonymous with the team’s growth. Not only did Sofronas take his first victory, as well as his best championship finish under the Porsche Motorsport umbrella, but the team also played a critical role in the 2008 and 2009 Manufacturer’s Championship won by the brand. In 2016, GMG also held the unique distinction of being the top sales team for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, selling more cars than any other in North America.
Of course, beyond the team’s on-track performance, Sofronas and company will continue to use the series as a development for their expanding street tuning business. As the leading performance tuning shop in Southern California, the team has used their trackside experience with Porsche and a number of other marques to give them a unique advantage in understanding the characteristics of their street counterparts. In such, no other organization in the area has a deeper understanding of the dynamics and engineering to make their vehicles perform, which has translated to a number of street car performance products. In addition, the racing environment has created an incredible learning ground for team personnel, with the team offering the same championship-winning experience on the track for a client’s daily driver.

In addition to Sofronas’s full efforts behind the wheel of the No. 14, the team owner will also maintain a busy racing schedule with the team’s three car program. Beyond running Alec Udell and Preston Calvert in another Porsche 911 GT3 R, the addition of George Kurtz’s McLaren 570S GT4 GTS program will add another dynamic in the form of experiential entertainment, with Kurtz bringing on CrowdStrike as a primary sponsor. On any given weekend, CrowdStrike will use the team and series as an opportunity to host several dozen partners, clients, and guests, the type of program that Sofronas relishes in, fully aware of what the series has to offer.
(ht: GMG)

... notes From The EDJE

TAGS: 43rd, Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, Media Day, Track Ride, GMG, James Sofronas, Pirelli World Challenge, Global Motorsports Group, Porsche, GT3-R, The EDJE