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VANTHOOR: Teammates and T-Shirts

Laurens Vanthoor files his latest Sportscar365 column heading into the home stretch of IMSA races…

Photo: Porsche

The busiest part of the season is over. May, June and July are months where I’m on the road the whole time. Now it’s around one race per month.

Between the races at Road America and Virginia I stayed in Florida for two weeks with my family, my wife and child. It was nice to spend time with them and recharge my batteries.

After Virginia I had time to go back to Belgium and visit my family who I hadn’t seen in months.

The two most important races are still to come.

Right now Earl and I are leading the IMSA Championship. We have a reasonable advantage on our teammates in the 911, but a lot could happen with two races to go.

I said at the last race that if we don’t win this championship I’m going to be pissed for five years! We better do it. I believe we can.

Photo: Porsche

It’s a bit stressful because you don’t have this kind of opportunity every year. When you have the opportunity, you have to go after it 100 percent, because you don’t know when the next one will come. I hope we can wrap it up.

The fact that we’re battling our teammates makes it even more difficult to be honest. We share everything.

We have the same car. We work together for Porsche. Then again, you’re trying to beat each other. There are a lot of advantages you might have over other competitors that you don’t have over your teammates.

We have some rules in the team that say we can’t have contact with each other or we can’t strategize against each other, for example. That’s pretty normal between teammates. That means it will all be even when we line-up each session.

The last race in Virginia when I came out after the restart just behind Patrick [Pilet], I briefly thought about doing an aggressive move, which would have likely involved some contact, in a fair way, but still, I knew I’d get in big trouble if I’d done it.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Often when these types of scenarios occur, team spirit can suffer, but somehow that hasn’t happened at the Porsche GT Team in the WeatherTech series. We’re all very friendly in the garage and working together. It’s been really positive.

This year has gone by very quickly with lots of races and with a baby as well. It’s crazy how fast she is growing. She’s crawling around and standing, so I don’t think it will be too long before she’s walking.

She’s making my jet lag life harder.

Normally when I come home from America, I have a night of jet lag; I’ll go to bed at 10 pm, then wake up at 1 am then fall back asleep at 4 am and force myself to get up around 8 or 9. It became pretty standard.

What happens now is daddy is awake from 1-4 and then falls back asleep, but then Emily decides to wake up at 4:30, so then I’m awake again. It’s making life a little difficult.

Other than that it’s been an amazing experience. She might come to the last race, but if not she’ll definitely be at some races next year.

Photo: Rick Dole

Our “Bamthor” merchandise is getting out of hand. Earl and I are baffled by people’s interest. We seriously thought we’d sell maybe ten t-shirts and now we’ve sold more than 170 online and at the track.

I had this crazy idea with Earl to make a website and see if people buy it, because at first we only had the Styled Aesthetic shop at the tracks. We didn’t have many shirts in stock, but we figured not many people would buy it so we’d be fine.

Then we added the Brumos shirts as well and before we knew it, we had over 100 orders. I thought ‘uh-oh, how are we going to handle these? I’m not going to get home from a race and hand pack and ship 100 shirts and Earl definitely isn’t.’

I found a fulfillment company that takes care of everything. I felt bad for the people that ordered because it took them a month to get their shirts, but I wanted everything to look professional. Luckily everything is up and running and if you buy a shirt today, it will ship tomorrow.

We’re still confused that people like this.

At Virginia we saw a dog with a Bamthor shirt and a guy with a Bamthor license plate. On Twitter, I saw a guy who said he wore his Bamthor shirt for the birth of his daughter. On the one hand it’s really cool, on the other hand it’s kind of crazy.

We’ll have another special shirt coming for Petit Le Mans, but we’ll only have a limited quantity. Earl and I think they look pretty sick, so I think they’ll sell quite quickly.

Hopefully Bamthor will win a Championship and we can make a special shirt for that.

Laurens Vanthoor (@VanthoorLaurens) is the 2019 IMSA GT Le Mans champion and former FIA GT World Cup champion driving for Porsche GT Team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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