Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, Team TGM driver Owen Trinkler reflects on forging a career in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, a series in which he has logged more starts than any other driver.
What has racing in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge meant for you and your career?
“My career started in what is now called the WeatherTech Championship in the mid-90’s, but the Continental Tire series, to me, has meant everything.
“I’ve found a really good home there, and I’ve enjoyed this series and watching the growth that Continental has brought to it since they came to the series.
“I think the media and fan interaction that they brought has brought fan recognition.
“You talk to people in the circles that I run in, the coaching that I do and the driving schools I teach for, they, recognize the series.
“That comes down to Continental and the things that they’ve done for the teams and the drivers as far as their interactions with the fans go. I think that’s been a tremendous success.”
You and Sarah Cattaneo had a remarkable run driving together in the series over the years. How special was that period of your career?
“I think it was tremendous. To see Sarah grow as a driver and to see the success that our team had through the end of last year is unbelievable.
“To get that wins that we did, over those years that we drove together and the way we finished last year, you couldn’t write a better chapter other than winning the championship.
“I was happy for her to go out [with a win at Road Atlanta].”
What moments from your career in the series stand out most in your mind?
“In 2011 when Sarah and I were driving together, we came so close to winning the championship.
“We came within 20 minutes of winning. We were leading at Mid-Ohio, she had qualified on pole, she was leading her stint, and we were doing everything needed to do.
“Then the car had a malfunction with the clutch. That stung to me.
“Even though I have the most starts [in Continental Tire Challenge history], I’ve kind of bounced around a lot. I’m not self funded, so I’ve bounced around to a lot of teams.
“In 2011, I was given an opportunity to run a full season with Sarah, and I felt that I had to take advantage of that opportunity.
“That stung me for a while. What put that to bed was last year, winning the races we did and ending up where we did in the championship.
“We didn’t win it, but I felt like we came back moving from eighth all the way to second in points in the last three races. It was a big accomplishment for Sarah and me.
“That’s what stand out to me: to be almost there in 2011 and then to turn it around a couple years later and almost win it again.”