KEVIN BUCKLER, OWNER OF TRG MOTORSPORTS AND DAVID GILLILAND, NO. 71 ADOBE ROAD WINERY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed racing at Infineon Raceway, what it means to race at your home track and more. TELL...
KEVIN BUCKLER, OWNER OF TRG MOTORSPORTS AND DAVID GILLILAND, NO. 71 ADOBE ROAD WINERY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed racing at Infineon Raceway, what it means to race at your home track and more.
TELL ME HOW A CALIFORNIAN GETS INVOLVED WITH NASCAR SPRINT CUP RACING. BUCKLER "The short version, yes we did start here. I don't want to jinx anything but there's a little bit of an eerie resemblance we started our program and our company started in 1992. We worked and worked to build the company up. It was a little sports car team and had a lot of parts business and things like that. My first ever professional race was here in 1995 at the IMSA race. It was a big event. I remember out on the grid with all my heroes and somebody sticking a microphone in and saying how are you guys going to do this weekend, you're the local guy. I just didn't want to embarrass myself and we ended up winning it and it was a big game-changer for us. It was kind of cool. It was a lot of the same stuff, kind of volunteer guys, real hard work ethic so that's neat. I obviously watched the NASCAR race here for years and though some day I want to have a car out here. So today is the day, pretty cool."
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN RECEIVED THIS YEAR WITH THE BUZZ AROUND THE SPRINT CUP RACE COMING TO TOWN? BUCKLER "It's been great. I couldn't thank the local media enough. We've been in every paper this week which has been fantastic. I remember when Kyle (??, public relations rep.) was working on booking a few of the deals with some of the radio stations and the newspapers they said well we'll cover you guys if you make it to Sonoma and that was 10 or 15 races ago and I was like I don't know if we're going to make it to Sonoma. But we made it and here we are so they've given us a lot of love. We've been very well received to answer your question."
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU. GILLILAND "It means a lot. TRG Motorsports, their sports car facility is located right around the corner from here and their shop was actually here at the race track for a long time. I've been coming here a long time with my dad. He's won a lot of races here and I've won here as a crew chief with him. It's just a fun track. It's always good to come out to California and see all my friends and family. I have a lot of supporters come out here to support us so it's a lot of fun. The track, I just came off the track so it's a little greasy. It don't have a whole lot of grip but I think it's going to be good. It's a big race for everybody at TRG Motorsports and myself. We've got Adobe Road Winery on the hood this weekend which we're real excited about. The car looks great. We're just going to get out there and do what we need to do."
WHAT ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO AT THE WEST RACE THAT IS GOING TO HELP YOU ON SUNDAY? "The main thing is just to get laps. I won the West race two years ago. The biggest thing is just get out there and get laps on the track. We only run two road races a year so it's something that we don't do all the time. We went and tested at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) a couple of weeks ago with our cup car and we're really happy with it. The biggest thing is just laps. Getting out there and just getting your rhythm down. Road racing is a lot of rhythm, it's kind of like dancing. Just the more you do it the better you will be."
I THINK IT WAS THREE YEARS AGO NOW THE WEEK AFTER KENTUCKY AND YOU CAME HERE AND YOU WERE ABLE TO GET IN THE SHOW, CAN YOU REMEMBER WHAT THAT WEEKEND WAS LIKE FOR YOU? GILLILAND "Yeah that was fun. I made my first ever Cup race start here and Infineon also. A lot of good things have happened here at Infineon. That team actually didn't make a single race all year and they had me come drive here and we made their first race. I remember they already had airplane tickets booked home for Friday night because they hadn't made a race. I was like man you guys cannot come to the race track like that. They were all really excited and really happy. It was a good day. Like you said it was the week after we won at Kentucky and a lot of things were happening. It was a busy time for us. We weren't really good in practice but we were able to lay down a good lap in qualifying and race on Sunday. Definitely a weekend I'll never forget, my first Cup start. I don't think anybody will ever forget that."
CAN YOU PUT IN PERSPECTIVE HOW BIG THIS WEEKEND IS? BUCKLER "Yeah, it is big. It's big in a couple of areas and a couple of ways. Like I was saying earlier we had started the season missed the (Daytona) 500 by a spot. David, myself, Slugger (Richard Labbe, crew chief) and everybody kind of got together and put our hands in and it was like the four musketeers and we were all in this thing together and we all had something to prove. It was a great little sort of chemistry thing and we could feel it right away. I remember when we announced out at California Speedway that we were going to make the first three races, I did a little press conference. I had a little bit of money and after that thing was over I was going I hope we can make the first three races, it's going to be tough. That was 14 or 15 races ago. I think it isn't a do or die deal but we're at a facility where we feel comfortable. Everything is kind of brought a little closer together when you have a guy that's real good on a road course, had a good finish, we're road course specialists with the team, a lot of those things are important. A good finish for us will be real helpful. I wouldn't say a game changer but it would be great to have a top-five for a top-10. That's in the back of my mind. I hope we just have a real strong finish here. We're working so hard. I'm putting a partner sponsor into the team. I know when we first started back in Daytona there were 20, 25 brand new teams and we were way down the list of getting any kind of media love and then every week we got more and six or seven races in we were kind of the Cinderella story. It's important to me that we try to carry that forward, stay on for the whole season and come back with a sponsor partner for next year. I think a big part of that is I'm trying to sort of look forward to where the series is going to be and where we're going to be. I think that lean, mean business model is going to be the one that is going to have a leg up on the field in some areas next year and I'm hoping we have that."
HOW DID THE ADVERTISEMENTS ON LOCAL TV LOOKING FOR SPONSORS WORK OUT FOR YOU? BUCKLER "The one thing I had to say last night just before you need to take a big gulp before you came to the track is we gave it all, we gave it everything. We wanted to at least let everyone know that we were out there. We had some great opportunities. We did some parties at the shop. We had some local businessmen come by. I drove from Morgan Hill to Santa Rosa off and on the last two weeks visiting people and talking to them. Its tough hunting for money for next week, you should be hunting for next year. I think everybody knows Sprint Cup is a great program and there's a lot of opportunities for marketing but a lot of that has to do with doing it weeks in advance. We have a partner on the car this weekend, Ultimate Limousine. Local people, exactly what we were looking for. A local business, this guy owns about four or five businesses and he's bringing his friends out and bringing his guests out and using the weekend as an opportunity to entertain his clients. We're probably going to be positioning ourselves really well for next season. I think we had a lot of people that have noticed what we're doing. Wow, you guys made it to Sprint Cup. You said you were going to do it. You actually did it now you're getting a lot of local media attention and I think for next season we'll be positioned really well for this race. But as usual it's a struggle and the economy doesn't help but we're still here."
TALK ABOUT THE AWARD YOU WON WITH YOUR WINERY. BUCKLER "It was nice because it was local and it was a big one. It was a funny thing. We've been focusing on doing quality work on the wine side just like the racing side for a long time but something has to happen once in a while where you get noticed. In this world it's a win or a nice finish or a good pole or something like that. In the wine world it's putting up a score on the board or winning a big competition like that. One of the biggest ones in all the United States and here in California is called the Sonoma Harvest Fair. It's the big local competition and although they do it a little tongue and cheek you get out and they take pictures of you and you get on a red carpet. I'm not even sure there is film in the camera but they make it so much fun. You're going out and you've got your coat on and your boots and your jeans. Once the thing starts its serious. There's 1100 wines, 600 wineries there. We submitted all 11 of our wines to the competition and won some medals. They're pretty generous with the medals but at the end of the night they do a little drum roll and the ball drops down and the screen goes up and someone looked at me and said you won it and it was our 2005 Zinfandel. It was really cool. What that does is that a lot of places before that weren't paying a lot of attention to us and we were trying to get in the door, a distributor or a store or a chain of restaurants, we've got some new best friend now. You want to tell them you are the same people that didn't want to return my phone call last year but you can't do that. It was good and the two businesses have complemented each other very well. It's nice when everybody comes to the wine country and we get to host them like last night. It was real nice. Thanks for asking."
CAN YOU GAUGE HOW MUCH YOU KIND OF COMMUNICATE WITH DAVID (GILLILAND)? BUCKLER "David and I probably talk more. He's really good getting back on his email. He's a texter and I'm an emailer although he's in front of his phone but I think it goes to the same place. We just kind of check in with each other throughout the week to just kind of see how things are going. I had a really good similar situation that I had with my main guy on the sports car side. We know what we're here for. We know that we're pretty lucky to be together right now. He's doing a great job and I appreciate that. He's trying and we're more than rubbing two nickels together. We're a real good team and we've got a real good car but we are a little outdone with some of the financial side of things with the big teams. As I've always joked with David we come to the races and we put a lot of time and effort into that primary car and I look at him and I go you better take good care of it because you don't want to drive that back up and that's the way it's always been. I feel like its super important to try to do my best in terms of leading by example on the time commitment and the work. I'm up early and stay late and you've got to be that way in today's world or it's going to blow by you."
-credit: gm racing