Winery Pals Earn Impressive Podium at Aston Martin Le Mans Festival Classic
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!"
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Last Updated (Wednesday, 20 June 2012 16:45)