Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will have a bigger on-track presence in the American Le Mans Series next season with the team fielding an LMP Challenge class entry alongside its LMP1 program, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Drivers Memo Gidley (LEFT) and Mike Guasch, who both are based locally near the team's Benicia headquarters, will lead the team's effort in the Challenge class, which features the Michelin-clad ORECA-Courage FLM09 prototype.
The team's expansion is the next step in its plans of growing and building a successful racing business. For the first time in its history, it will enter two cars in the series, after fielding a single entry in what were two successful full seasons in the ALMS the last couple of years.
“We're extremely excited about the upcoming season and our two-car ALMS program,” expressed team owner Greg Pickett. “We've been slowly expanding our racing efforts and this was a logical choice for us to have both a Challenge car and a P1 car on track this season.
“Memo has been part of the Muscle Milk family for a very long time now and we're thrilled to have him back with us racing in the ALMS. I'd also like to welcome Mike Guasch to our racing family. We're looking forward to working with him and Memo and to having a good season together.”
Gidley will be taking part in LMPC class competition for the first time while Guasch will be making a return to the series after taking part in a couple of LMPC events in 2011 with Genoa Racing and claiming a class win at the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring.
The team is currently searching for a third driver to complete the lineup at the three endurance races on the schedule at Sebring, Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans.
Guasch comes to the ALMS for his first full season of competition in the sports car series after spending the last few years moving up the racing ladder. The American placed first overall in the Masters Class of the Star Mazda Championship in 2009, a follow-up to his third place overall in what was a partial 2008 season of competition in that series.
The last couple of years, Guasch (FAR RIGHT) tested his skills in the FIA GT3 European Championship (2010) as well as the British GT Championship (2011) in addition to his limited schedule in the ALMS.
“I'm very excited to be joining Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with the LMPC car. I've had a chance in 2011 to race the Challenge car in a couple of races and do some testing and this is what I wanted to do for 2012. I've been racing GT in Europe for the last two years and I really wanted to run the ALMS this season, doing this deal with Muscle Milk is fantastic.
“Secondly, and more importantly is getting to run with Memo. We've been friends for a number of years and we're very excited to run together. I think as a team we will have a very good package between the two of us and that's a good piece of the puzzle.
“Additionally, with both of us being local, we'll be able to train together and be with the car on a regular basis. I'm also very excited to represent a health-minded brand, very much so because we are athletes, we train very hard and we live and breath eating well and training. It's something that becomes that much more important when it comes to endurance racing.”
Gidley a former CART/Champ Car driver who more recently has been competing in the Grand-Am Series will be making a return of sorts with the Muscle Milk team. The American first drove for and with team owner Greg Pickett at the 2007 Petit Le Mans race, claiming a third-place finish in the P1 class. Gidley also completed the Muscle Milk team's second-place finishing driver lineup at Laguna Seca in 2010.
Over the years in both the open-wheel and prototype formulas, Gidley has amassed wins, podiums and numerous top-10 finishes and has become a fan favorite because of his hard work ethic, never give up attitude and likeable down to earth personality. In addition to his car racing, Gidley is a multiple time U.S. shifter kart champion and still one of the most recognized names in U.S. go-kart racing. Also a passionate stand up Jet Ski racer, Gidley won the DJSA Outlaw Jet Ski Series Super 800 class in 2009 and finished second in the 850cc Expert class in 2010.
“For me to be a part of Pickett Racing and racing for Muscle Milk is really a dream come true. I've been a Muscle Milk athlete for close to 10 years now and they, not only the organization but the people like Greg and Penny Pickett and their son and daughters, have turned into family and have been great supporters of mine.
“Also, the team synergies are great. Mike, the Picketts and I, all come from a similar background, which is essentially from very little and then with good old-fashioned hard work, we got to where we are today.
“And lastly, I'm stoked to be racing with my friend Mike. I have huge respect for him as a driver, a person and a friend and I know we are going to have a fantastic time with great success. Like I said, for me it's the all-around perfect situation and it's a dream come true.
“I'm just really thrilled to be racing for the Muscle Milk brand in the ALMS aboard the LMPC car and appreciate everybody's work to make this happen.”
Aside from some private testing sessions in the next couple of months, the pair of American drivers will make their official debut at the American Le Mans Series Winter Test Feb. 8 - 9, 2012.
The upcoming season of the American Le Mans Series kicks off with the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.