The Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Texas, set for Sept. 1-3 at Circuit of The Americas, will have a “Lone Star State” flavor with a large contingent of Texas-based racing teams and drivers ready to battle in North America’s top GT Production-based road racing series.
Over 100 overall competitors are primed for the state-of-the-art 3.427-mile, 20-turn road course in an action-filled racing weekend, but no one wants to be standing on the victory podium more than the teams and drivers from Texas.
And many of those Texas racers have already seen success at COTA including last year in the Pirelli World Challenge season opener.
Clemson University college student Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Texas, captured the GT Cup event last year at COTA and finish second in the other GT Cup feature. In addition, Udell drove in the world-class Porsche GT Cup event last October in the Formula 1 weekend at COTA.
Now, the mechanical engineer student returns to COTA in search of the SprintX Pro/Am division win in the Labor Day weekend racing extravaganza when he co-drives with Preston Calvert in the No. 17 Calvert Dynamics/Euroworld Motorsports/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I can’t wait to come back to Austin for the PWC COTA event,” said Udell, who also spent last summer in an internship with an Austin-based design firm. “I have been to COTA many times including winning the GT Cup race last year and then racing the Porsche Cup at the F1 weekend. While I grew up in the Houston area, Austin seems like a second home with the COTA track. It would be awesome to win there again.”
Another Texas-based group in the SprintX division at COTA will be the legendary sports car team from Dallas, GAINSCO Auto Insurance/Bob Stallings Racing. The GAINSCO group has won championships in sports cars and driver Jon Fogarty made the podium (third) last year in the team’s Pirelli World Challenge debut in the GT class. Now, Fogarty and Wolf Henzler will be in the fight for the Pro/Pro category of the 60-minute, two-driver format for SprintX at COTA. In the last race at Utah, Henzler took the “Hard Charger” award for passing the most cars.
“We always enjoy coming to COTA for several reasons,” said Fogarty, the two-time sports car champion. “First, it is a great track and a driver can ready race hard at COTA. Secondly, COTA is the closest road racing facility to our team’s base in Dallas and GAINSCO brings a lot of people to watch the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” Porsche 911 GT3 R. Last year was very exciting being on the podium and watching the GAINSCO group have so much fun. We would like to do that again this time.”
A local competitor who has seen success at COTA over the years is Austin’s Scott Dollahite, who’ll bring his No. 46 SDR Motorsports/Driveway Austin Lotus Evora to the local circuit in the GTS category. Dollahite took third in last year’s COTA event and returns for his first 2017 outing. In his PWC debut at COTA, Dollahite won the pole position last year in GTS.
“I have raced many types of cars at COTA on the years and it’s great to have Pirelli World Challenge back at the local track,” said Dollahite, who also serves as the pace car driver in PWC. “I have done teaching at COTA too and have a lot of laps around that place. In my PWC debut, I won the GTS pole but we had a mechanical issue in the race. In the second race, I came from sixth to third. So, I think we’ll have a pretty good race car again for Labor Day weekend.”
The Dallas-based FastTrack Racing from Classic BMW brings five entries in the Touring Car class to COTA with team manager and defending Touring Car series champion Toby Grahovec of Celina, Texas, leading the team’s charge. Grahovec, the former college hockey standout, stood on the winner’s circle podium twice last year at COTA with a first and second place finishes. Now, Gravohec and his squad look to repeat the 2016 COTA performance in his No. 1 Classic BMW BMW M235iR sports car.