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ASCHENBACH: For the Future of Our Sport

Lawson Aschenbach files his latest Sportscar365 following reflection from Lime Rock…

Photo: PWC

The ‘Bull Ring’ is what we call it. Fast corners, acute elevation changes, and low grip make for tough racing.

Rarely will you leave the track without a scratch or a dent. It’s a place that can reward mental stamina or destroy dreams. But it creates one very important thing: Excitement!

Lime Rock Park is unlike any track in the world… and I love it…

A year ago, I wrote a blog post about how important this place is to our sport. That we need to support tracks as best we can because – let’s face it – we don’t see anything new being built. Maybe once every ten years, if we’re lucky.

The facilities at which we are fortunate to race are vital to our industry. We need circuits just as much as they need the series, teams, manufacturers, sponsors and drivers.

The win-win mentality needs to be in the forefront of all of our minds. To grow this sports, we all need to help tow the line.

Sports Car Racing is the purest form of motorsport in the world. We are actually racing the cars that are bought by humans.

Fans can see their dream car racing around the track at speed with highly skilled drivers. This is the best kept secret in all of racing.

Technology transfer is an important phrase and with 100 percent certainty you can see the transfer from race car to road car and vice versa. We learn from racing and we learn from the street, but racing is a great way to push the limits of engineering, to find the breaking point.

This sport drives home the point of “Win on Sunday, Buy on Monday.” Manufacturers want to beat their competition; it’s bragging rights and marketing at it’s best.

Without competition, where is the excitement? Where is the desire, the determination, the champion?

I feel we are at a critical point in racing. We have the opportunity to grow this into a mainstream sport. One that will allow you to sell sponsors and showcase actual ROI. But it won’t be easy. No one has the crystal ball.

Motorsports, in general, has taken a bit of a hit in recent years, but it’s a mixed bag.

Declining TV for some types of racing and growth in others. Increasing car counts in some places, but a decline in others. As a whole, we aren’t really getting anywhere.

However, in the world of sports car racing, we’ve seen a shift in the right direction. We’ve seen streamlined processes, increasing support from manufacturers, and a positioning, of some sort, to put our sport on the map.
We have a long way to go, but things are happening…

How do we continue to grow? That’s a great question. I don’t think anyone has the perfect answer, but it seems to me that majority of us want to see growth.

We want to take things to new heights, and that will help all of us.

I feel a tipping point is on the horizon. One that will see our sport pushed into the daily thoughts of people and mainstream news outlets.

To make this happen we need to focus on the excitement, the prestige and the opportunities.

In all honesty, I’m not exactly sure what the point of this blog post is. In reality, I’m just thinking out loud.

But I believe we all need to continue to talk. All ideas and thoughts need to be shared. We are in this together, and if we all tow the line as a group, we can create something with stability and awareness for decades.

Switching gears back to racing…

The Bull Ring, well, lived up to its name last weekend. My teammate, Andy Pilgrim, and I were fortunate to squeak out of there with a fifth-place (third in class) finish with our Camaro GT4.R in race two of the Pirelli World Challenge event after a frustrating Race 1.

For every up, there will be a down at some point. It’s how you respond that truly defines you as an athlete. We never back down and will never give up!

I enjoy seeing the constant dedication of everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop, Chevrolet, Pratt & Miller and all our partners. Thanks to everyone that helps make this dream a reality!

On to Road America!

Lawson Aschenbach (@lawsonaracing) is a former Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Pirelli World Challenge champion, driving for Blackdog Speed Shop in Pirelli World Challenge and Michael Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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