SONOMA, Calif., July 25 -- Last month, fans of Johnstown, Pa.'s Chris Gleason watched him race on CBS. On Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern time they can catch him on NBC, as he and teammate Marc Bunting of Monkton, Md. are entered in the Infineon Grand...
SONOMA, Calif., July 25 -- Last month, fans of Johnstown, Pa.'s Chris Gleason watched him race on CBS. On Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern time they can catch him on NBC, as he and teammate Marc Bunting of Monkton, Md. are entered in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race at Infineon Raceway here.
Although both Gleason and Bunting are from the East, the team they are driving with, The Racer's Group, is headquartered at Infineon Raceway.
That should be a big advantage. Since the team has extensive experience at this track, the crew should quickly arrive at a great set-up for the car, allowing Gleason and Bunting the luxury of spending most of their time concentrating on fine-tuning their driving techniques in order to make the Porsche 911 GT3 RS go even faster.
They're sharing the bright blue #68 Porsche, which is sponsored by Monster Cable, mail2web.com, Carlsen Porsche, Adobe Road Winery, Rennlist.com and Gleason Financial, in the two-hour and 45-minute race.
The car competes in the GT class. Eighteen of the 37 total entries in the race are in that class.
Gleason raced in a Trans-Am race here once in the early '80s, but the track has been altered since then so it's like a new course for him. On Thursday he drove around it in a truck, and his impressions are that it's a very technical course, with lots of elevation changes and lots of camber changes.
"There are some blind turns, where you come up over a crest and can't see ahead of you, and it's very challenging," he said. "The car will need to be precisely at the right spot at the right time.
"A driver is busy all the time here," he added. "There are no straightaways to speak of where a driver can regroup a little. It's going to be a very challenging race.
"I expect the lead Racer's Group Porsche, which is being driven by Kevin [Buckler] and Cort [Wagner], to be very quick here," Gleason added. "We're hoping that the set-up will be all taken care of, and Marc and I can spend our time learning the subtleties of the course."
Gleason stays in shape between ALMS races by driving shifter karts.
He and two sons, age 22 and 16, flew to California early in the week and spent Wednesday driving shifter karts in 106-degree heat at Willow Springs Raceway.
"I bought two shifter karts and a truck from my friend [and fellow racer] Bill Auberlen, and then I sent the boys home to Pennsylvania with them," Gleason said. "I gave the boys a credit card and the truck. I've been checking on them, and so far, so good, but I'm a little nervous. I'm waiting for the potential SOS call.
"They stopped off in Vegas yesterday because one of them's girlfriend and her parents were there, but that's the way it is with cross-country trips," Gleason added. "Now and then there are side excursions, I guess."
On Friday at Infineon Gleason also received a new helmet made by AGV, an Italian manufacturer. It's blue, white and gold. He was having the new helmet fitted for his radio system Friday but he's unsure whether he'll be able to wear it in Sunday's race because he also has to get it fitted with attachments for the mandatory HANS device, and he's not sure if that can be arranged here at the track.
For more information see www.gleasonagency.com, www.theracersgroup.com, www.americanlemans.com and www.restartcommunications.com.