The Racer's Group (TRG) and Aston Martin Racing announced today the formation of a partnership to bring a factory-supported, multi-faceted Aston Martin Racing program to North America starting in 2013. The move encompasses the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the Pirelli World Challenge as well as plans to launch a single-make support series featuring Aston Martin Vantage GT4 racecars.
The new, multi-level partnership – TRG-Aston Martin Racing North America, LLC – commenced with TRG-AMR North America's acquisition of 10 brand-new racecars to compete in varying North American sports car series. The Aston Martin Vantage GTE will be unveiled at the American Le Mans Series' annual Winter Test on Feb. 7-8 in preparation for the March 16 running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.
In the Grand-Am Rolex Series and Pirelli World Challenge, the Vantage GT3 is in its final homologation stages and will be ready to race for new customers after the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The new Vantage GT4, running in the Continental Tire Challenge, will debut at the January test days and will be ready to race in support of and alongside the highly successful Multimatic team already running in the championship.
"Aston Martin Racing, as a factory-supported entity, has truly arrived in North America," said TRG principal Kevin Buckler (LEFT), who will head the new organization as its CEO. "This program is massive and far-reaching. What we have crafted with Aston Martin Racing is the ability for TRG-AMR North America to compete in all the major race series with multiple teams, and to manage and support all customer programs, marketing, merchandising, transport, maintenance, a new Aston Martin GT4 race series, and even an Aston Martin-specific 'arrive and drive' program for corporate clients and customers. I am honored to have my Aston Martin friends and co-drivers Kenneth Greenberg and Robert Nimkoff as partners with us on this new endeavor, and we are all excited to get the programs rolling immediately."
Julian Jenkins, vp of Aston Martin of the Americas, added, "There has long been a strong appetite from owners, enthusiasts and race fans alike to see Aston Martin in regular motorsport competition in North America, so this partnership with TRG is an excellent opportunity to further realize that ambition as we approach our centenary year."
Leaders of Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series welcomed the news.
"We've believed from the beginning that the merger of Grand-Am and ALMS would be a game-changer on the North American motorsport landscape," said Grand-Am President and CEO Ed Bennett. "This announcement by TRG-Aston Martin Racing North America is concrete evidence that our belief is bearing fruit – and quickly."
ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton added, "We enthusiastically welcome the return of Aston Martin and the expansion of effort by TRG-Aston Martin Racing North America. Over many seasons, TRG has been a benchmark competitor in both ALMS and Grand-Am, scoring many victories and championships. Today, we're marking a point in North American motorsport that speaks to the confidence of the world's premier automotive brands in our unified vision. This announcement underscores the fact that our sport is now in an unprecedented position to grow and provide value for manufacturers, for teams like TRG-Aston Martin, for our sponsors and most importantly for fans and TV audiences."
Buckler said that much of the immediate emphasis will be on securing customer teams to compete in all the North American racing series as well.
"We will be responsible for racecar sales, race parts, at-track engineering and technical support, rebuilds and repairs and will be there with the full support and backing of TRG-Aston Martin Racing North America for any of our customer teams," he said. "We want to welcome and assist these teams at the highest level of support and professionalism in any of the sports car series in North America."
John Gaw, managing director of Aston Martin Racing said, "We are delighted to form this innovative new partnership with TRG which presents great potential across a variety of racing competitions. In TRG we have a proven race partner who clearly knows how to be competitive and win races, helping us achieve new levels of success in North American motorsport for Aston Martin."
In addition to managing its own race program and customer programs, TRG-AMR North America also has started the development of a one-make series with the Aston Martin GT4 Vantage. This series will race identically prepared Aston Martin GT4s against one another in a sprint race format at select venues throughout North America beginning as early as the fall of 2013.
An integral part of the new company and relationship with Aston Martin is its North American dealership network that will work together with the new TRG-AMR North American group to explore partnership and marketing opportunities together. There are 35 Aston Martin dealerships in the U.S., with five additional in Canada.
The new company will also create opportunities for corporate partners to participate in sponsorship and marketing programs with Aston Martin's new North American entity. In addition to creating unique corporate partnership packages, including business-to-business opportunities, internal and external promotional campaigns, branding awareness and unique at-track experiences with guest hospitality reflective of the Aston Martin brand. The "arrive and drive" element will feature Aston Martin racecars at tracks throughout North America where corporate clients, team sponsors and customers can become fully immersed in a track event, with data and instruction from the team and drivers. It will be a full-service, roving driving school throughout North America centered on an amazing driving and lifestyle experience.