After 20 years of success with Porsche, Saturday’s Petit Le Mans will mark the end of an era for The Racer’s Group as the Kevin Buckler-owned team embarks on its final professional race with the famed German manufacturer.
Damien Faulkner, Ben Keating and Craig Stanton will pilot the team’s No. 66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the 1,000-mile/10-hour enduro at Road Atlanta, looking for their third consecutive GTC class victory and close out the team’s impressive chapter.
The California-based operation, which originated in club racing, had been deeply invested with Porsche since its beginning in 1993.
TRG enjoyed incredible success through the years, including the GT2 class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2002, overall victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona one year later (pictured above), as well as numerous additional wins and championships.
“We’ve had a long, hard think about this when we signed the [Aston Martin] deal a year ago,” Buckler told Sportscar365. “We knew this moment was going to come. If you look at our office, with the history, the heritage and the amazing stuff we and Porsche accomplished…
“When we started, we were like the little team that could. We were up against factory teams and crazy money but we kept pushing away. We were always considered the Rocky Balboa of racing. I cut my teeth on club racing.”
Buckler said there have been a number of memorable moments, including winning the Porsche Cup in 2002 for top independent driver, as well as the team’s success at Daytona, which included four class wins.
Remarkably, TRG has fielded a total of 62 entries in the Rolex 24, often four or five-car Porsche squads, since its debut in the twice-around-the-clock endurance race as a single-car effort in 1997.
“The class win at Le Mans was great and the overall win at Daytona was great,” Buckler said. “The 1-2 at Daytona in 2009 was the most convincing show. We had a big win at Petit in 2010. Those moments were all special.”
While the team’s professional focus will turn entirely to Aston Martin as it ramps up for next year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, TRG will continue its association with Porsche on the club racing and parts side, which has proven to be a successful business for Buckler.
A new chapter may begin in 2014, but Buckler says he won’t forget his roots and how he got to where he is today.