Local driver gets chance with Le Mans-Winning team at Mid-Ohio. LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 20, 2002) -- For Cincinnati racing driver B.J. Zacharias, the road to the top of his profession has suddenly started looking a lot better. The 29-year-old ...
Local driver gets chance with Le Mans-Winning team at Mid-Ohio.
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 20, 2002) -- For Cincinnati racing driver B.J. Zacharias, the road to the top of his profession has suddenly started looking a lot better.
The 29-year-old Zacharias will have the chance to drive for one of the winning teams in the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans when he competes in the American Le Mans Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course the weekend of June 28-30.
Zacharias, who has been trying to find a way to break into the top ranks of sports car racing, will team with owner/driver Kevin Buckler of Novato, Calif., in The Racers Group-fielded Porsche 911 GT3 RS at Mid-Ohio. Buckler shared the wheel with two other drivers last weekend in France when The Racers Group won GT class honors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A two-time champion of the competitive SCCA Runoffs held each year at Mid-Ohio, Zacharias had struck a deal with Buckler earlier this year to drive with him in the second annual appearance of the American Le Mans Series at the track. When Buckler's team won its class in the world's most prestigious endurance race, the deal became even sweeter.
"It added a little pressure," said Zacharias. "It was definitely an up for the team, and Kevin will have some momentum coming to Mid-Ohio. Kevin brings a lot of experience and he has a really good team behind him. He's also no slouch behind the wheel.
"Hopefully I can help the team," he said. "If there's a chance for me to shine, this is it because I'm with a good team and I'm at my home track."
All American Le Mans Series races feature four classes of race cars, all competing at the same time for class wins as well as the overall win. The GT cars are the slowest of the four classes, but there is no lack of speed or competition among them. The machines will exceed 150 mph on some parts of the Mid-Ohio circuit, but will still be considerably slower than the sleek, exotic Prototype machines that lead the field. GT drivers not only race each other, but must also be aware of the faster cars coming up to pass them constantly during event, which creates exciting moments for drivers and fans..
"Kevin had two factory Porsche drivers with him at Le Mans, and now we will have to race against them," said Zacharias. "It's tough racing but I'm looking forward to it."
Zacharias, who said he was a fan of the old IMSA GTP cars while growing up, originally aspired to race open-wheel cars. However, the lack of opportunity in that form of racing brought him instead to sports cars, and he has found a happy home. He hopes to eventually land a fulltime ride in the American Le Mans Series.
"I really like sports cars and endurance racing," he said. "It's an enjoyable form of racing."
The weekend of racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be capped with a two-hour, 45-minute timed race for the ALMS at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 30. Saturday at the track will include a race for the popular Trans-Am Series, as well as ALMS practice and qualifying and an autograph session for fans with ALMS drivers.
Races will also be held during the weekend for the SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring cars, the Star Mazda Series and Formula Fords.
Ticket information is available online at www.midohio.com or by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO. The race will be televised live by SPEED Channel and the broadcast by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.