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Last Update 3/30/17

















Largest IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Field Set For BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach

The BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday, April 8 will feature a full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock, with 35 cars – comprised of 13 different automotive manufacturers – on the entry list (LINKED HERE) for Round 3 of the 2017 season.

Transitioning from the two longest races of the season, the 100-minute sprint race is one of the shortest races on the WeatherTech Championship calendar and will be broadcast live on FOX, with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT and continuing through the checkered flag and post-race interviews.

The field includes 10 Prototype (P) class entries, a nine-car GT Le Mans (GTLM) field and, competing on the streets of Long Beach for the first time, 16 GT Daytona (GTD) teams.

Having won the opening two races of the 2017 season, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R returns with its pair of full-season drivers in brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, who also won at Long Beach in both 2015 and 2016. However, the nine other Prototype teams will be pushing hard to try and spoil the Taylors from winning three races in a row.

Perhaps charging most of all will be the two Prototype entries from Mazda Motorsports. Long Beach, Calif. is in the backyard of Mazda North American Operations, located in Irvine, and the team will be keen on making a strong impression. Since the 2016 season, Mazda’s prototypes have shown a very competitive pace, nearly winning overall on several occasions, but have also struggled with reliability in some instances.

"While Mazda’s true homecourt advantage comes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca each season, being able to race just down the road from our North American headquarters means a great deal to us,” said Mazda North America’s Director of Motorsports John Doonan. “Many Mazda employees and enthusiasts join us for the Long Beach festivities.”

Doonan not only has faith in his drivers (Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Joel Miller and Tom Long), but in the Nos. 55 and 70 Mazda RT24-P cars as well, the manufacturer’s example of IMSA’s Daytona Prototype international (DPi) formula. He looks forward to showcasing the concept to the California fans.

“The true tie-in comes from the fact that our R&D engineers often use the streets and roads all around Long Beach and Southern California to test and refine the driving experience of our entire road car line-up,” Doonan explained. “We hope to bring success to the brand with the new DPi package in its maiden visit to the streets of Long Beach.”

Mazda will not be alone in challenging for the win, though. After coming so close to victory at Daytona and Sebring, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R with drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi will be providing heavy pressure, as will their teammates Dane Cameron and Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering car.

Rounding out the DPi representatives is Tequila Patrón ESM, which fields a pair of Nissan DPis in its 2017 return to full-time WeatherTech Championship competition. In addition to the seven DPi race cars, a trio of Gibson V8-powered LM P2 cars – Visit Florida Racing’s Multimatic/Riley, a Ligier run by PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and an ORECA fielded by JDC-Miller Motorsports, a team that won Long Beach last year in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class – are ready for battle in Long Beach. LM P2 cars also have proven to be competitive early this season with a pole position at Sebring and a podium result in the Daytona season opener.

In the GTLM class, Porsche will look to repeat its 2016 victory on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit to capture its first win of the season. Neither the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner or the Porsche GT Team sister entry, the No. 912 of Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor, will have an easy time of it, however.

Ferrari and BMW have also yet to stand on the top step of the podium in 2017 and are both keen to do so. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander was a constant threat in the closing hours of both the Rolex 24 and the Twelve Hours of Sebring, and it was a BMW Team RLL BMW M6 on the GTLM pole last year in SoCal.

It goes without saying that 2017 winners Ford and Chevrolet also will be top contenders. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing took the win at Daytona with one of its four Ford GTs and was within just seconds of the Sebring-winning Corvette C7.R. For Long Beach, Ford and Chevy will field two cars apiece to contend for the win.

Eight of the 13 manufacturers on the entry list can be found in GTD alone, with 16 cars on the list for Long Beach. The race will prove to be a unique challenge for most of the competitors, as 2017 represents GTD’s first outing at the track.

The No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett surely will be a frontrunner, as the team itself raced at Long Beach as recently as last year, albeit in a PC car. The Sebring-winning Riley/Keating team is not one to count out either, as the No. 33 is determined to take two victories in a row for Mercedes-AMG.

With the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach being part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, watchful eyes will be on the pair of 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 entries, led by sports car and Long Beach legend Scott Pruett.

Attempting to pick a GTD winner is nigh impossible though, as on top of Lexus, Mercedes and Porsche, five additional manufacturers will be fighting for the class win. Acura, Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini all have a shot to take home the prize, and everyone will be watching when the green flag drops on FOX.

Practice for the WeatherTech Championship begins the morning of Friday, April 7, with qualifying set to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET / 5:20 p.m. PT that evening.

The BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach takes the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET / 1:05 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 8. Tickets for the race are available now at www.GPLB.com.

Tomy Drissi Dominates Inaugural 2017 Trans Am West Championship presented by Pirelli at Willow Springs
Driving the No. 8 Ghost in the Shell, Tony Ave Racing prepared Corvette, Tomy Drissi lit up the course at the legendary Willow Springs International Raceway for the inaugural 2017 Trans Am West Championship presented by Pirelli. The 2009 TransAm Champion cracked open the record books setting the fastest time of the weekend and winning the 100 mile event.

This was Tomy’s second trip to a TransAm podium this season, having just finished second place finish at the series season opener in Sebring. The win here at Willow Springs holds a special meaning for Tomy, given his history here and the proximity his hometown of Hollywood.

“What a great weekend,” said Tomy following the race. “Lacy, my wife, brought our two children, Jagger and Elin to their very first race. That was a lot of fun. Racing out here at Willow Springs is always special… but winning, man… that’s just awesome. I had a great car all weekend. Tony (Ave) promised me a fast a car… and he delivered. My crew guys were spot on with this thing from the minute we rolled it off the transporter.”

“The racing was really good,” Tomy continued. “Greg Pickett was giving me some heat early on, and then Kyle Kelley and I were swapping the lead back and forth. All the TA cars were pretty quick and putting on a really good show. I’ll tell you, I have to give huge props to Adam Carolla…he came out here and did a great job. I’m not sure he’s driven with this much horsepower under him before, but man, he did great!”

“Again, these Pirelli tires were great,” added Tomy. “It makes for great racing when the Series commits to a good tire… we can really go racing on the Pirellis. Also want to thank the people at Piloti, Racing Radios and RPMx for the help this weekend.”

After a nearly decade long absence, the iconic rumble of Trans Am engines makes its long-awaited return to the West Coast.  A stand-alone competition, the Trans Am West Coast Championship will have its own points championship and will be independent of the Trans Am Championship—which is held primarily on tracks throughout the East Coast, Midwest and South.  With the addition of a West Coast Championship, Trans Am aims to regenerate a historically vibrant competitor community on both professional and SCCA Club levels.  

Trans Am partnered the weekend with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), as it does for many of its events in the Trans Am Championship. The Series will continue with the format of 100-mile sprint races and will enforce a modified version of the 2016 Trans Am rulebook while staffing the events with core members of the Trans Am Series staff, including the Series’ Technical Director and Chief Steward.  

Recently named VARA’s fist Hall of Fame inductee, Tomy brought along his famed 1970 Factory Chaparral Camaro.

“I’ve really been looking forward to catching up with the SVRA and VARA folks,” said Tomy. “There are a lot of good people involved and a lot of really cool cars. So I thought I’d bring out the Chaparral Camaro just for kicks. It was great playing around and having a little fun with it.”

Ford, Ferrari Take GT Class Poles for Rolex 24 At Daytona Thanks to Hand, Pier Guidi

The world debut of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT race car came at the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona, but it was a race Ford would rather forget, as both cars suffered from mechanical issues that ruined their chances for a solid finish. 

Of course, the team made up for that with a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of the race victory of the original Ford GT, and put together a solid 2016 season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. 

For the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Ford and Ganassi are serious about winning. How serious? Not only did they bring the two U.S.-based cars – the Le Mans-winning No. 66, and the team car, No. 67 – they brought the two Europe-based Ford GTs, No. 68 and No. 69. 

And it appears they are ready for the challenge, qualifying first, second, third and sixth in the 11-car field Thursday afternoon. 

On the pole was the No. 66 driven by Joey Hand, one of the drivers who won at Le Mans. “We feel like we’re more prepared this year,” he said. And how does he feel about the fact that his central competition may be his three teammates? “Well,” he said, “you just want to be the fastest bullet in the gun!” Hand’s best lap was 1:43.473 seconds, just ahead of Richard Westbrook’s 1:43.704 in the No. 67. Third was Olivier Pla in the No. 68, whose best lap was 1:43.987. Pla’s best lap was on the fourth tour around the circuit, which was lucky, as he later spun off the track and sat in the grass for most of the session. 

Fourth was the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, with a lap of 1:44.121 by Toni Vilander. He said he well realizes the challenge the Ford contingent presents, but says, “We have a strong lineup of drivers, and we’re looking forward to the race. We won Petit Le Mans last year,” referring to the WeatherTech Championship 10-hour season finale at Road Atlanta, “And everything we have is the same or better. We’re the lonely riders – the only Ferrari in the class.” 

The GT Le Mans class is mechanically much the same as it was in 2016, with one major exception. The No. 911 and No. 912 Porsche 911 RSRs run by the Porsche GT Team are all-new, with the most significant change being a shift from the traditional 911 rear-engine configuration to more of a mid-engine layout.  

The rest of the cars – the Ford GT, Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, BMW M6 GTLM and the Ferrari 488 GTE are expected to benefit from having at least a year of competition behind them. 

The Porsches were quick, but not quick enough: Patrick Pilet was fifth in the No. 911 car, and Kevin Estre was eighth in class in the No. 912. 

In GT Daytona, it was Ferrari, Ferrari and Aston Martin. The front row in the class will be the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3, courtesy of Alessandro Pier Guidi, whose best lap was 1:47.099. “Ferrari and the team did a great job for me,” Pier Guidi. “I’m here for them.” He was not able to make pre-season testing at Daytona, so the pole win was impressive. 

Close behind – very close, in fact – was the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Alessandro Balzan who, with co-driver Christina Nielsen, won the 2016 WeatherTech Championship season GTD title. The veteran Balzan’s best lap was 1:47.117, which he set in a Hail-Mary last lap that nearly earned him the top spot. “Scuderia Corsa gave me a really good car for qualifying, Balzan said. “There’s a good energy here for the team.” 

Third was the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage, driven by Marco Sorensen to a lap of 1:47.734. His Aston Martin was followed by the No. 59 Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Matteo Cairoli, the No. 11 Lamborghini Huracán of Christian Engelhart, and the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 piloted by Connor De Phillippi. 

The new Michael Shank Racing Acura NSXs were seventh and ninth. The similarly new 3GT Racing Lexus RCFGT3s were 13th and 20th. And the three Mercedes AMG GT3s – while not an all-new car, are new to the GT Daytona class – were 18th, 19th and 24th in the field of 27 entries.


Martin Puts New Ford Mustang on Pole for Continental Tire Challenge Daytona Opener

As the sun set and chilly weather descended on Daytona International Speedway, Dean Martin heated up the asphalt with a lap that surprised even himself, given the fact that his No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang was a late entry, and the car had some problems that required repair right up to qualifying time.  

Then it was up to Martin, a sports car veteran, and he delivered. “I just went for it,” he said, coming into the tight Bus Stop chicane on his last lap “so fast I wasn’t sure I was going to come out the other side.” But that flying lap of 1 minute, 55.754 seconds was enough to give Martin the pole over fellow Mustang driver and defending champion Scott Maxwell in the Multimatic Motorsports No. 15. 

Maxwell, who has a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on his resume, turned a lap of 1:55.788, just 0.034 seconds behind Martin. It will be an all-Ford front row for the four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race; the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona. Third was the No. 76 McLaren GT4 fielded by C360R and driven by Matt Plumb to a best lap of 1:56.360, followed by a Porsche Cayman GT4, two more McLarens and an Aston Martin Vantage. 

The cars in the Grand Sport, or GS class, are operating under new rules for 2017 that make cars built to global GT4 specifications legal, used by multiple series worldwide. This has generated a lot of excitement in the class, and a lot of entries – 20 in GS, and 20 in the Street Tuner, or ST class. 

In ST, Connor Bloum put the No. 18 RS1 Porsche Cayman on the pole with a lap of 2:04.900 – impressive since he has never driven ”in Continental Tire Challenge qualifying. “I owe it all to the guys at RS1,” he said. “My first time qualifying I the series, and it couldn’t have gone better.




 Founder Ed Inclan exlains the concept behind his organization

 Interview By: L.A. Pierre - Back to the Tracks” is a  community awareness program we started back in 1993.   This program focuses on promoting auto racing as a sport  while also educating people of the dangers associated with  illegal street racing.   Click here for complete interview  

 Annual car show raises community awareness about the dangers of street racing and money for children’s museum




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