TRG-Aston Martin Racing Heads Home from Le Mans

Saturday, June 20, 2015

In what can only be described as an amazing display of commitment, logistics, and racing heritage, more than 35 contemporary Aston Martin Racing cars from all over the world took to the famous Circuit de la Sarthe for the 2015 Le Mans Festival Race, celebrating the history of Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing leading into the famous 83rd running of the 24 Hours of LeMans. TRG-Aston Martin Racing, the North American factory representative, brought with it almost a quarter of the field with eight total cars and left with epic memories for all, new friendships formed, 5 podium finishes, including a victory in the GT4 class with drivers Derek DeBoer and Bob Bramlage. During the event, all the TRG-AMR drivers got to experience track time on the full Le Mans circuit and the team had the incredible opportunity to show the world how TRG-AMR operates and has done so well for over two decades.

This marks another major endeavor for the Sonoma County-based team, which includes shipping one of their primary race transporters along with the Aston Martin Racing cars across the Atlantic via both sea-freight and air-freight, as well as logistics for over 60 crew, guests, and other personnel. While a massive undertaking from the outside looking in, this is a relatively routine operation for the team which has run large, successful, multi-car operations for nearly 20 years, including an eight year run at the 24 Hours of Daytona with five or more cars competing each year, posting four victories and 13 podiums along the way. This is also the team’s first official return to Le Mans where it last competed in the famous 24 hour race in 2002, ‘03, and ‘04 with a GT victory in 2002.

The TRG-AMR team of drivers, guests, and staff made the long to trip to Le Mans with the entire operation sandwiched between two important races on the IMSA TUDOR and Pirelli World Challenge schedules, leaving little room for error or hangups. Everything and everyone performed flawlessly.

Aside from the iconic and storied history of Aston Martin as the honored marque, also racing this year are some very notable names from around the sportscar racing world including 10 TRG-AMR Team Drivers - Christina Nielsen, Derek DeBoer, Alex Welch, Rob Nimkoff, Ben Keating, Jeff Huber, Greg Milzcik, Bob Bramlage, Fred Schulte and TRG-AMR CEO Kevin Buckler. 

The entire week from front to back ended up being an amazing 5-star experience for everyone involved. From the beauty of the team’s 17th Century French Chateau, private dinners, special countryside and local tours, fantastic team logistics, and of course a once-in-a-lifetime chance to race on the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. All of the guests and drivers were also treated to all-access VIP Hot Pit passes during the 24 hour event, courtesy of Aston Martin Racing, giving a glimpse into the “behind the scenes” world of professional international motor racing.

In the GT3 field, the two TRG-AMR entries were strong with Christina Nielsen and the Kevin Buckler/Rob Nimkoff driver pairing, finishing 2nd and 3rd overall as well as 2nd and 3rd in class. The two GT3s were part of a small and competitive group of the potent V12 Vantage GT3 racing machines and their drivers. Nielsen once again impressed the crowd with her stunning 2nd place finish and turning laps times with other top professionals. She also gained some valuable track time on the historic circuit, learning the nuances of this very high-speed, technical track and all just before she heads back to Watkins Glen, NY for the IMSA TUDOR 6 Hours of the Glen. Nielsen is a full-season IMSA TUDOR and Pirelli World Challenge TRG-AMR Team Driver and was driving the No. 82 V12 Vantage GT3, following in the footsteps of her father Lars Erik Nielsen, who drove for the team in the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans. Christina is currently in second place of the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Series, with podium finishes at the historic 12 Hours of Sebring and the recent race at Detroit’s Belle Isle. 

As the only previous Le Mans winner in the entire field, TRG-AMR CEO Kevin Buckler ran with co-driver and TRG-AMR partner Rob Nimkoff in the No. 81 LaSalle Solutions V12 Vantage GT3. Nimkoff put his endurance racing experience and knowledge of the track to work and the pair walked away with a pair of podium finishes and some great stories to share for a lifetime. As overall podium finishers and for the beginning of their ceremonies, Nielsen, Buckler and Nimkoff had the honor of walking out and standing on the famous Le Mans Podium that extends over the entire pitlane, an honor afforded to very few racers in the world. 

Kevin and CEO of LaSalle Solutions, Steven Robb had struck a partnership deal around Le Mans although Steven could not attend and sent his stunt double, the bobblehead “Little Stevie” in his place and he proudly accompanied the team everywhere, including the center console of the No. 81 LaSalle Solutions V12 Vantage GT3. 

In the highly competitive GT4 class, TRG-AMR drivers Derek DeBoer and Bob Bramlage were victorious in bringing home a win for the team with some amazingly close and competitive racing against all of the other drivers and their teammates. It was especially sweet for Derek and Bob, being their first time visiting and driving at Le Mans, along with having a strong contingent of friends and family in attendance. 

TRG-AMR partner and racing driver Jeff Huber held the team flag high with a strong performance and a fantastic week, learning the speed secrets of the track, studying and improving throughout the entire event. Jeff had a terrific run in qualifying and the race, consistently improving on this high speed track, as well as spending some quality time with his family while taking in all the sights and sounds of Le Mans. 

2014 GT4 Challenge Series runner-up Greg Milzcik made his debut at Le Mans with his measured approach and smart driving style. Greg fell in love with the circuit and improved steadily throughout the weekend and - as usual - had a terrific final result for himself and the team. Greg and his wife Eileen kept a busy schedule throughout the week, enjoying all that Le Mans and the French countryside had to offer.

Source material - TRG - AMR
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