Sonoma, CA -- December 12, 2003 -- The Racer's Group today announced its plans for the 2004 American Le Mans Series season, which include several twists, an exciting driver addition, the expanded presence of a title sponsor and a new livery for the cars. New Century Mortgage, a leading nationwide specialty mortgage banking company, will increase its investment in the team, assume the role of title sponsor and anchor the team's new dual-car livery.
Pat Flanagan, President of New Century Mortgage, gave his reasons for sponsoring the team. "New Century is very excited to support The Racers Group for the 2004 ALMS season. We are pleased to be associated both with the team and Porsche. Speed, performance and reliability have made TRG and Porsche leaders in sports car racing, and are the same ideals that New Century brings to the mortgage community through our FastQual technology."
Cort Wagner, 2003 Grand-Am GT Driver's co-champion and 1999 ALMS GT Driver's champion will again drive for the California-based team, this time partnering with fellow Southern California native Patrick Long, the first American driver in history hired by the factory as a Porsche Junior driver. Wagner and Long will team to drive the #66 New Century Mortgage/Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for all ALMS races.
Wagner, of Pacific Palisades, California, returns for his second season in a TRG-prepared Porsche. The 1999 Porsche Cup champion shared his sentiments about the upcoming season. "It's an incredible opportunity to be part of an American Dream Team. Patrick being a works driver brings a lot to the level of competitiveness for our effort. I'm excited to be a part of New Century/TRG fight for victory in the 2004 ALMS season. This will be a fantastic chance for the premier All-American Porsche team to fight the European drivers and teams; with two Porsche Cup winners and a works driver on the team, it's going to be a big year."
Patrick Long, 22 and residing in Stuttgart, Germany, will contest his first full season of American Le Mans racing, after his promotion from the Porsche Juniors team, where he spent the 2003 season racing in the Porsche Carrera and Supercup series. While most Porsche Junior drivers focus their energies on the Carrera Cups in their first year in the program, Patrick excelled at the series, scoring three wins in German and UK Carrera Cup races and two poles. Additionally, he showed strongly in the Supercup series, with two podium finishes and a start from pole position at the famed Nurburgring. In his maiden race in the American Le Mans Series, the Petit Le Mans, Patrick impressed with his skill, pace and rapid adjustment to the competition and unfamiliar track.
"When I raced at Petit Le Mans in 2003 with The Racer's Group, I was impressed by the level of professionalism that the team displayed, and was happy with the progress that we made," Patrick said. "There was a certain level of comfort that we were able to establish -- I felt like it was very easy to fit in, and all of this makes me feel that the 2004 season won't be like a blind date. I'm excited to race with Cort, he's been driving top-level sports cars longer than I've been involved in motorsports, and I'm looking forward to absorbing some of his tricks of the trade. Also, as I go to race on all the American circuits, it'll be valuable to have a very experienced co-driver to help me learn the tracks more quickly. We showed at Petit that we could be a very fast duo. New Century Mortgage created a great family atmosphere for the team and myself, and I'm grateful to them for the opportunity they're giving us in 2004."
Finally, in a twist that will take him out of ALMS competition for the first time since 1999, team owner Kevin Buckler will step out of the driver's seat to manage the team full-time.
"After the success the team has had in the past three years, and the success I've had as a driver, I felt that this year it was time to take the next step and focus my energies on taking our team to the next level," said Buckler. "It's been a dream come true to win races at Daytona and at Le Mans -- the biggest stages in sports car racing -- and to capitalize on the momentum our team has built as a business. The opportunity that's facing us this year is incredible, and by combining the talents of all of the players involved we'll take the team to the next level in motorsports. I can't say enough about the opportunity that has been given to us by New Century Mortgage and the Porsche factory. I am looking forward to showing what a properly funded, professionally organized effort can do for its sponsor to meet their business objectives through racing. I hope our efforts this year will strengthen all of ALMS and especially GT as a platform from which to help other team's partners meet their goals. We will definitely be turning it up a notch. We respect our role and realize we have a big job ahead of us.
He continued, "We are big believers in chemistry at The Racer's Group, and what we have right now is magic. I feel that we've got one of the best mixes of people in the business. It all starts with our all-star crew -- there's not a more talented and harder working bunch of guys out there. I have been with these guys a long time and they know how to get the job done. I'm looking forward to working with the engineers and the drivers this year to get the very most out of our cars. Cort is a wealth of knowledge and experience. He'll be working with the same team and running on familiar tracks, and besides that he's just plain fast. Patrick brings raw fresh talent to the team. His speed, ability and feedback will be nurtured and developed to its fullest. Couple that with strong engineering and the commitment of our sponsor New Century Mortgage, and we have a total winning combination. I am really excited to be steering this ship."
New Century Financial Corporation, a publicly traded Company listed on NASDAQ (ticker symbol "NCEN"), is a leading nationwide specialty mortgage banking company that, through its subsidiary, New Century Mortgage Corporation, originates, purchases, sells and services residential mortgage loans secured primarily by first mortgages on single family residences.
Monster is the world's leading manufacturer of high performance cables for home, car and professional use as well as computers and computer games. Monster Power®, a division of Monster Cable, provides AC power conditioning and protection products as well as a complete line of PowerCells.
The Racer's Group is a manufacturer and distributor of high performance Porsche parts, an engine and chassis building and tuning facility, a full service Porsche prep facility, and a professional race team. Additionally, they provide electrical and mechanical engineering services, driver development and "arrive and drive" services. The Racer's Group is based at Infineon Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway, in Sonoma, Calif.
Please visit our new website at www.theracersgroup.com