The Racer's Group announces driver lineup for 3-Car assault on the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Sonoma, CA. -- Feb. 24, 2003 -- Fresh off a historic overall win at the 2003 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, The Racer's Group today announced its driver lineup for a 3-car assault on the 12 Hours of Sebring. Team owner Kevin Buckler will lead a strong lineup of racers in an attempt to capture the team's first win at Sebring. Joining Buckler in car #66 are longtime Champ Car, F-1, IRL & and IMSA driver Eliseo Salazar, of Santiago, Chile and 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona overall winner Jim Pace, of Monticello, MS.
Buckler was excited about the driver's lineup. "I'm ecstatic to have Jim and Eliseo driving with me at Sebring. After what happened at Daytona, I know that with the right drivers, we're one of the best teams on the track. Both of these guys have been all over the world, have driven all sorts of cars, and they're going to do an awesome job in our cars. I couldn't be more excited about the mix."
The race at Sebring means something special to Eliseo Salazar. "I'm really excited to join a winning team at a place that means a lot of me. When I was in high school in Chile, I applied for a student exchange in California, and got accepted in some place I'd never heard of called Sebring, Florida. I watched the 12 Hour race that year, and I got the racing bug by being there. I've raced all over the world, but this is my first Sebring 12 Hour. I can't wait."
In car #67, the winning car from the 2002 24 Hours of Le Mans, are two familiar faces at The Racer's Group, and one new one. 2003 Overall Winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona and 2nd place finisher in the 2002 Porsche Cup Michael Schrom will lead the charge in #67, and will be joined by longtime Racer's Group friend Vic Rice, of Novato, CA. Rice has raced all over the world, including the 24 Hours of Spa, Le Mans and Nurburgring. Joining Michael and Vic is Pierre Ehret of Santa Rosa, CA.
Michael Schrom was confident about the opening round in ALMS. "You know, we had an amazing run last year, and for Kevin and me to finish 1-2 in the Porsche Cup was amazing. We didn't know how we'd ever improve on that. Then we won overall at Daytona, which is definitely one of the highlights of my racing career. Now, we're setting our sights on conquering Sebring, which is a whole other challenge, and I, for one, am thrilled about the opportunity. I've driven with Vic before, and I got to test with Pierre at the Sebring Porsche Club race a couple of weeks ago, and I've got to say that I like our chances."
Pierre Ehret, owner of the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, CA, spoke about the reliability of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. "I'm never nervous before a race, and Sebring is no different. The combination of the Racer's Group team and the Porsches makes me very happy. I'm excited to drive well and compare myself on one hand with Kevin and Michael and on the other with the other guys in the GT class. The great thing about endurance races is that we stack up well against some of the quicker cars -- the qualifying times won 't say much about the outcome of the race because of the reliability of the GT3 RS. "
Vic Rice acknowledged the level of competition in this year's race. "If you look at the caliber of cars and drivers, I think you have to conclude that this is one of the best fields in the modern era. All of us want to be here to race against the best, to see how we stack up. This race is going to be a true test for our team."
Rounding out The Racer's Group's lineup for the 12 Hours of Sebring is car #68, driven by Chris Gleason, of Johnstown, PA, Marc Bunting, of Monkton, MD, and Allan Ziegelman, principal and owner of Black Forest Motorsports in DeLand, FL. Ziegelman drove a Porsche 911 GT3R in the 2001 12 Hours of Sebring, and was the driver last season for the #28 Riley & Scott WSC car.
Chris Gleason, President of the Gleason Agency and CEO of Gleason Financial, uses racing as a way to help disadvantaged and disabled people. "I've had good fortune in my life, and when I was young, I had an uncle who was an official with the Pennsylvania State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, and watching the work that those people did had an effect on me. These are people who have a lot of things to overcome in life, and when I bring them out to the track, they really appreciate it. I feel that the more successful you are, the more you should give back, and this is one of the ways I've chosen to focus some of my energy. When we bring folks down to Sebring, it's going to be memorable for them, and I'm looking forward to being with them."
Marc Bunting was "nervously optimistic" about his maiden pro drive at Sebring. "I'm looking forward to the race, and about the team I've joined. The Racer's Group is an established and successful team, and the equipment is excellent. The Porsche GT3 RS is a great car -- reliable -- and I'd say I' m nervously optimistic about my first pro race at Sebring. We were just down here a couple of weeks ago running in a Porsche Club race, and we won our enduro. That bodes well for us, and gives us a little bit of confidence going into the 12 Hour. Chris, Allan and I just need to capitalize on our experience and the reliability of the car, and hopefully, we'll be on the podium at the end."
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. They are also the North American distributor of the UNICHIP, a fully programmable piggyback computer system that enhances the performance of streetcars and currently support approximately 130 dealers in the U.S. The Racer's Group is based at Infineon Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway, in Sonoma, Calif.