The Lone Star Le Mans weekend at Circuit of The Americas saw the addition of another new IMSA partner, but one that’s poised to have a significant impact in the sports car racing paddock.
Sonic Tools inked a multi-year agreement with IMSA to become the official hand tool of the WetherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, as part of the brand’s launch in North America.
The Holland-based company, known for its involvement in European sports car championships such as the Blancpain GT Series and ADAC GT Masters, is being headed up in the U.S. by former APR Motorsport team owner Stephen Hooks.
Hooks, who sold a majority share of his Alabama-based tuning and motorsports business to an equity firm last year, felt the timing was right to get back involved in the sport through this new venture.
“Sonic is a brand I became aware of through APR,” Hooks told Sportscar365. “They’ve done a tremendous job of creating an entire line of products that are automotive-specific.
“[They] needed an American partner to work with to understand the market. I thought it wasn’t a better enough time and opportunity to bring Sonic here and set up a full warehouse and launch.”
Hooks, the CEO of Sonic Tools USA, has established the company’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn, Ala., as part of a joint partnership with the parent company, which also has facilities in Germany and Taiwan.
With having to build a brand identity in the U.S., Hooks has turned to IMSA, and specifically the teams in the paddock, to help raise awareness.
“It’s a key part of our marketing,” he said. “We think it brings the brand a bit of legitimacy.
“It gets us inside 200-plus race teams an a couple thousand mechanics, who we think are very high caliber.
“A lot of these guys who are going to use our products are going to become adopters and talk to their friends and colleagues. We see this as a big thing.”
Hooks said of its first initiatives is offering IMSA teams a dollar-for-dollar match in hand tool and storage system sales for the next three months.
It has also formed a partnership with Wayne Taylor Racing to become a sponsor on the team’s Corvette DP, with a further sponsorship announcement for a GT class team to be made shortly.
“I firmly believe that the amount of business and tentacles in this paddock are huge,” Hooks said. “They really stretch a long way, throughout the U.S. and Canada for sure.
“We’re here to support the teams and of course the race fans. We want to introduce them to the brand as well.
“I know myself, back before I was ever involved in the sport, I wanted to get to know companies that supported my love.
“We think this is a great spot to be and want to support the fans as well.”
A Sonic Tools truck will be set up in the paddock at every IMSA race, offering teams easy access to support, as well exposing fans to its full line of products.
“We’re trying to showcase sports car racing for what it is,” Hooks said. “It’s a 21st century brand with what we think the 21st century of racing is and should be.
“I think some other brands in the States are historic brands. They’re big and great but what we’re trying to do is show something different.”
Having been a former team owner in GRAND-AM, prior to the merger, Hooks has been impressed with IMSA’s transformation, particularly in the last 12 months.
“We think where IMSA is headed in the next three to five years is a pretty special spot,” he said.
“You can talk about the glory years of the Camel [GT] era…Cars have never been better today and I think sports car racing is headed that same direction.
“I think technology wise and where society is, there’s certain forms of racing that will have to question who they are or what they’re going to be in the future.
“I think [sports car racing] has never been positioned better.”