ec: AJR also has an entrant for the IMSA Challenge, so that means setups for four cars in total.
AJ: That's right. Starting at Laguna we'll have a fourth with the Patron IMSA Challenge car. It will run the rest of the GT3 season, which will be at all the ALMS races except for New Jersey. The fourth car won't be as involved as the three GTC cars, but it still makes for a lot of logistics. Holly will oversee the IMSA Challenge operation.
ec: AJR has won all the majors, including a pair at la Sarthe. Winning at Le Mans has never seemed like all that big a deal to you... do you ever see that mindset changing?
AJ: You've beat me up on that for years. [laughs] Yes, it's changing some already. To win at Le Mans is always big. It's the biggest sports car race in the world. I tend to forget that. It's not a race I like to do since it is so expensive and logistically difficult. France is a long way from Florida. In both cases in the past I had to do it in partnership with another team, which was the only way I could make the finances work. Maybe someday I'll be able to do it completely on my own. Maybe then it will mean even more. That said, the 2005 win will always be very special since we were never expected to win. But we got the pole and led most of the race. We beat all odds, and that made it all the sweeter.
GMG on The GTC Trail
James Sofronas of Southern California-based Global Motorsports Group knows a thing or two about the Porsche GT3 Cup car. As his company has expanded, so has its racing plans.
ec: You and GMG have been regulars in the SCCA World Challenge, especially at Long Beach, which has to be considered your home circuit. When the ALMS announced the forming of the GTC class, is this something that could benefit GMG or is the majority of your business more tuned to the club and challenge series? What prompted your decision to enter both events? The fun of it?
JS: Our client, Bret Curtis, in only his second year of racing, wanted to run GTC with me as the co-driver and GMG running the car. I was excited about this, as it gave us the ability to show a different audience what we can do with a Porsche. Racing is part of our business; it allows us to further develop our street performance parts, so there is a direct correlation. There are several GMG-specific parts on our GTC car that we feel give us an edge. We want to continue with ALMS because it's such a professional series and the endurance format gives us a new challenge. We're registered for the entire season and Bret hopes to be able to do all nine races, schedule permitting.
ec: The Long Beach street circuit is an unforgiving place, where the phrase "hello walls" really applies. You're used to the pace of World Challenge cars, but the ALMS is a mix of three classes with an enormous speed differential. Can you define the adjustments you had to make going from the two races?
JS: I have a fair amount of multi-class endurance racing experience, so it wasn't as big an adjustment for that as it was the difference in the tires. But in ALMS, the closing speeds from the prototypes are something to be extremely cautious of.
ec: The tires-they're perhaps the most critical part of obtaining peak performance. In the World Challenge you're restricted to Toyos and in the ALMS GTC class you have to use Yokohamas. How do you find the optimum setup to go from one to the other?
JS: We have a great team with some of the best Porsche race techs in the business, and we had a thorough test schedule. You learn how each set of tires needs to work. Everything in the car changes when you go from Toyos [a road-legal DOT tire] to a slick [Yokohama in this case], including camber, rake, springs, shock settings, and especially tire pressure.