TRG's Kevin Buckler Returns to Driver's Seat at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Children's Tumor Foundation partners with TRG
As if running programs in NASCAR, GRAND-AM, and the American Le Mans Series aren't enough to keep a team owner busy, TRG's Kevin Buckler will return to his roots as a professional driver at the upcoming Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at his home track of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
And while the top podium spot is always Buckler's focus whether as a driver or team owner, his return to the pilot's seat is being driven by more than simply a passion to succeed. Dozens of children battling a rare disorder will join TRG and Racing4Research, one of the nation's premier auto racing charity initiatives, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival Powered by Mazda on July 8-9.
Racing4Research is a national program of the Children's Tumor Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding treatments and a cure for NF.
Originally based around the Rolex 24 at Daytona, R4R has now established a presence at events around the country including multiple NASCAR events. The event will help raise funds and awareness for neurofibromatosis (NF), a disorder that affects more than one in every 3,000 children born.
"Racing4Research has helped empower more and more kids and families affected by NF since its inception," said Racing4Research program director Jill Beck. "It's really highlighted how much interest there is in the program and in supporting an important cause through racing."
"Laguna Seca is one of my absolute favorite tracks, and we are going to have a great time," stated Buckler. "This is really the kick-off of our long term partnership with a fantastic organization, the Children's Tumor Foundation, and I am honored that they have asked me to drive the CTF car as well as serve as one of the Foundations spokespersons. It is an incredible organization that does so much good for the children and families that are afflicted with this terrible disorder."
"Racing4Research has meant so much to our NF Heroes and their families," said George Orfanakos, the President of the Children's Tumor Foundation. "Having a chance to expand this program to California will help expand support and improve our research and care initiatives, it's a great day for the NF community."
NF is a progressive disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. The Children's Tumor Foundation is the leading nonprofit dedicated to funding NF research - research that is shedding new light on cancer, brain tumors, learning disabilities, and bone abnormalities, ultimately benefitting the broader community in addition to those living with NF.
Buckler, was a top level professional driver during the early days of the organization. He has taken multiple victories behind the wheel, including winning twice at the Rolex 24 at Daytona (including overall in 2003 in a GT car), once at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as being the recipient of the 2002 Porsche Cup. Retiring from driving full-time in 2005 to focus on ownership responsibilities, Kevin still occasionally has shown up with helmet in hand, including most recently testing this year at Daytona.
Buckler, who originally set up his organization just a few miles away from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the 1990s, looks forward to getting behind the wheel of the No. 4 TRG Porsche.
"As far as the driving, I think I still know my way around the track and always love driving at Laguna," said Buckler. "The hillsides and higher speed corners should play well to the Porsche, and I have a strong teammate in Daniel Graeff who did a great job for our team this year at Daytona. We really look forward to putting on a good show for the Children's Tumor Foundation families and creating an all-around memorable event for them.
This will be our first multi-car Rolex effort since Daytona, and I'm glad to see us returning to what we do best. Between this and a five-car program at Lime Rock Park (CT) and the NASCAR team running the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky - all on this same weekend, it's going to be a busy few days for us, but it should be great. I know there will be a lot of "ribbing" from friends in the paddock about the "Old Guy" getting back in the car so I better not screw up. My crew chief has already started teasing me about having the hookups for a cool-suit AND some oxygen in the car and making sure I can still get in and out without a lot of help."