Petaluma, CA (June 18, 2012) - Fellow Northern California Winery owners and friends, Kevin Buckler (Adobe Road Winery) and Fred Schrader (Schrader Cellars) have high-fived each other after earning high scores and prestigious awards for their wines. Saturday, June 16th, at the world's most famous auto circuit in Le Mans, France, the two high-fived and hugged each other for another reason.
Driving for Schrader Racing in a 2011 spec Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Buckler and Schrader earned an impressive podium spot with a third place finish at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe in the Aston Martin Festival Classic, a preliminary race to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even more impressive was that they are both rookies---Buckler, to an Aston Martin and Schrader to Le Mans. The two teams ahead of them were both "factory-backed" teams.
"Unbelievable!!!" exclaimed Buckler, who won Le Mans in 2002 driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. "That was just awesome. The weather conditions were pretty horrific when we started and we had lots of curve balls thrown our way, but Fred drove an amazing first stint."
Schrader started in a heavy rain, always treacherous at the 8.5-mile road course.
"It was pretty hairy out there," said Schrader. "I knew if I played it smart, kept pace and turned the car over in one piece to Bucky, we would have a helluva chance. That start in the rain, is something I will never forget."
When Buckler took over, there was about a two-minute gap to the leader. The veteran sports car champion reeled in several cars in front of him and stood in fourth place with a lap to go. He quickly descended upon the third place car which was eight seconds ahead of him going into the final lap. Buckler knew that a pass would mean a champagne-laden podium for him and his co-driver Schrader if he could just get by. On the high speed Mulsanne Corner, Buckler saw his chance. He faked inside and then moved outside looking for traction and power off the corner. It worked. He stormed past on the back straight for a third place. A podium at Le Mans was theirs!
"I drove as hard as I could," said Buckler. "It was raining and we were going fast! I was sideways on all the slick corners during that last lap and drove as deep as I could go. I really wanted to get that guy so I could send Fred and I home with some of the same amazing memories as I've had before from this place. Also, this was an absolutely unbelievable performance by Fred. I mean the guy is at the top of his game in the wine world, so why take the risk? And I mean the physical risk!! How many people can start a real race, in a powerful Aston Martin race car, at the most famous racing circuit in the world, in pouring rain, and not fold their cards? We are doing 180 MPH on the famous Mulsanne Straight in the wet!! Not only did Fred nail it, but he out-drove 6 or 7 guys that had way more experience than him and left them in his "rooster tails". He did his job as my team-mate and put us in a position to strike. I give that a Perfect Score!"
Rumor has it that after the podium celebration, a bottle of wine or two was shared as well - only the finest...
"Both of us have a penchant for a little mischief so we better not show the golf cart videos at night!" grinned Buckler, "But the bottom line is that was just a really really cool experience to share with friends, experiencing extremes that you can only imagine. We had a great time, an amazing race and memories to last a lifetime!"
~ # # # ~
Last Updated (Wednesday, 20 June 2012 16:45)
TRG’s battle to the front at Mid-Ohio’s EMCO Gears Classic was cut short, but the duo of Steve Bertheau and Spencer Pumpelly held on for its second consecutive Top 10 finish in Round Six of the Rolex Grand Am Series.
Bertheau started the race in the No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and drove hard and kept the car in a competitive position but an early splitter problem forced a stop under green. Pumpelly took over and a fast pit stop allowed him to get out in front of the GT leaders and gain almost half a lap back to remain on the lead lap. The TRG crew eventually replaced the troublesome splitter under a caution and Pumpelly worked his way into the lead as the car performed to perfection.
“We really seemed to have it going,” said Pumpelly, “but then we began to get a little tire vibration and the track cooled a little.”
The next couple of cautions didn’t play well into TRG’s hands, but Pumpelly managed to keep the car on the lead lap for an eventual eighth place finish as slower traffic split the field and made it difficult to improve position.
“We really had a strong car today,” said Bertheau. “Our pit stops were great; we just didn’t catch the luck we needed when we needed it.”
“We knew we would be at a little competitive disadvantage today with the new weight reductions Grand-Am recently gave the BMW’s,” said team owner Kevin Buckler. “Our Porsches need a little help right now from Grand Am as this is really getting frustrating.” “The guys battled and battled all day long. That’s the TRG way, and I’m proud of their efforts and performance.”
TRG heads to Round Seven of the Rolex Grand-Am Series June 23 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI.
Petaluma, CA (June, 7 2012) TRG’s No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car returns to action this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the EMCO Gears Classic. Drivers Steve Bertheau and Spencer Pumpelly head to the historic 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, OH, hoping for another strong finish as the team heads into mid-season of the Rolex Grand-Am Series.
“We’ve begun a pretty hectic stretch,” says Bertheau, referring to four races over five weeks that began last week at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. “But there’s nothing like getting in the car and racing week after week to get us in that groove we are looking for.”
Bertheau and Pumpelly won twice together last year on the Grand-Am circuit and came close earlier this season at the Rolex 24, finishing second. To date, the top podium slot has eluded the duo although they have had fast, capable cars much all season.
“We’re ready to make a run at one,” said Pumpelly. “The cars have been fast. They’ve been set up great. It’s just been different things at different races that have kept us out of contention.”
At Birmingham, there was an early race incident. At Homestead, a rain-shortened race cut the chances for a sure podium and perhaps a win. At Detroit, it was a punt from a prototype and a flat tire.
“I feel it!” said team owner Kevin Buckler. “Steve has really come on this season, and Spencer is one of the best drivers on this circuit and a great co-driver for Steve. Mid-Ohio is a classic road course with tons of history and tradition. It’s a great place to race and I’m sure our entire crew will get the adrenaline going. It’s impossible not to at a place like that.”
TRG, the most successful sports car program over the last 20 years with more than 150 podiums, has won once at Mid-Ohio (2007) in the Grand-Am Series. When the flag drops at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, it will be looking for another. All the action can be seen live on SPEED.
Last Updated (Friday, 08 June 2012 15:17)
Petaluma, CA (June 7, 2012) - TRG’s inaugural run on Belle Isle at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Am 200 showed signs of real promise for the No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Steve Bertheau and Spencer Pumpelly. The duo which shared a winning car twice on the Grand-Am circuit last year seemed poised to make a run for at least a podium on the 2.1-mile island street course, but alas a punt by an errant prototype and a flat tire in the final 10 minutes did the duo in for the day.
“It was a real shame,” said team owner Kevin Buckler. “We had a really good car. Steve was posting some amazing times despite being spun by the prototype, and Spencer was working his way up the through pack before the tire issue reared its head.”
The race was only eight laps old when Bertheau took his hit, spinning him off the course. He did a great job saving the car and getting restarted, but the shunt pushed him toward the rear of the field. Fortunately, there was no damage to the car, and he began to work his way back into contention. With the help of a couple of yellow flags, the TRG gang got a lap back before Pumpelly jumped into the car.
The veteran sports car driver began the arduous task of overtaking on the tricky road course and, with the help of yet another yellow, moved the No. 67 onto the lead lap and into the Top 10. But with less than 10 minutes left in the race, Pumpelly reported an unstable condition in the rear which was eventually attributed to a tire going down, forcing him to pull off the track.
“The good news is that we all had a wonderful time racing at Belle Isle” said Buckler. “The organization worked really hard to put on this event and we hope it continues. We are off to Mid Ohio and looking for a strong finish.”
Bertheau and Pumpelly now head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic. Green flag is 4:30 p.m. EDT. SPEED will carry all the action live
Last Updated (Thursday, 07 June 2012 23:16)