Aston Martin V12 Vantage (Marshall Pruett photo)
Kevin Buckler's The Racer's Group debuted the Aston Martin V12 Vantage in Grand-Am Rolex GT trim earlier this month in Monterey and will give the matte black car another run this weekend at the series finale in Lime Rock. Where the car is headed in the coming months, however, is possibly the most interesting news, according to the TRG-AMR team principal.
The next destination for the GT3-based machine, along with other Aston Martin Racing products, will be a full season in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship's GT Daytona class. And with secondary plans for a two-car V8 Vantage effort in the Continental Tire Series Grand Sport category, Buckler could be seeing the kind of growth he envisioned when partnering with the British marque.
“We will have a model where there will be four house cars and we would run in a combination of GT and GS, two cars in each, and then we'll have the mothership with the parts and the spares and engineering,” he told RACER. “And if someone else wants to run them on their own because they want to be separate from us, no problem. But we need to be sort of nondenominational.
“It will be a lot easier to pull off because before there were three or four different platforms to run, and now there'll just be two. And I'll have my World Challenge separate, but the United SportsCar program needs to be at least two [V12 Vantage] cars and I have one more of transporter coming that will have our merchandising setup, you'll have our GT and our GS cars, and we'll be able to support the guys with proper engineering and proper technology.”
After casting his lot with AMR, Buckler is confident he made the right choice to leave his familiar fleet of Porsches behind to build his program with a new manufacturer in the USCC.
“Deborah, my wife and I, threw it all in on this and I had people in the business that whacked me upside the head last year and said, ‘Are you guys crazy? You're going to give up a profitable 20-year relationship with Porsche?' And you know what? I looked at all the categories and saw that it was the best direction for TRG to go,” he added.
“The main reason is this whole United SportsCar opportunity, the paradigm we're seeing now. We're in a magic moment in time. NASCAR is wounded, IndyCar is wounded, sports car has had small double-digit growth over the last few years, but now we're one voice, now we're one series. If I could actually find myself in control of one of the coolest brands on the planet, I better jump. Don't hesitate.
“We did it, we jumped in, we raised the money to go out and fund the program, buy the equipment. My goal is to take this brand as a racing entity and move it forward into the North American market, starting from the ground up. That's our plan.”