For 2016, CJ Wilson Racing looks to expand beyond its current effort in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, as the team is exploring other IMSA-sanctioned series for potential participation.
Team principal CJ Wilson had a rare day available during the season to attend to his team’s activities at the track, and was on site Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca prior to his latest pitching start with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Wilson told Sportscar365 heading into the race weekend that among other options, the team is looking at expanding into the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Presented by Yokohama and the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America. Both are good options for potential customers.
“In the future, it makes a lot of sense to go into a series that is very static, like GT3 Cup or Super Trofeo, where you know exactly what the car is, and you know the manufacturer is 100 percent in control of that series,” Wilson told Sportscar365.
“The customer has a chance to get familiarized with a very fast car, and then maybe go to a GTD type; there’s now not that big of a leap from a GT3 Cup car to a GT3 car for the TUDOR Championship.
“We’re mainly focused on the IMSA TUDOR paddock as far as what options we have to travel with that series. There’s more consistency.”
Wilson noted he and the team had looked at Pirelli World Challenge, but prefers the longer length races offered in the TUDOR Championship due to multiple drivers and the potential of greater marketing presence.
As for a potential TUDOR GTD program, Wilson said it was definitely too early to tell and hard to predict what may happen in terms of growth next year when FIA GT3-spec cars enter GTD.
The first step in the team’s future growth strategy occurred this weekend with the debut of a Porsche 911 in GS, with Marc Miller and Tyler McQuarrie in the No. 33 car for Monterey and Lime Rock. Miller and McQuarrie finished eighth on Saturday.
“The big jump for us was the jump from MX-5 Cup to ST, and then doing both of those teams,” said Wilson, who no longer fields a team in the Batter Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup although his ST drivers, Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer, do with several of the past CJWR MX-5 Cup elements.
“GS is one of the best racing classes in the world. The car count is so high and so many types of cars it’s constantly exciting. Whether it’s a Camaro, Mustang, Porsche or BMW, it can be anyone’s race. It comes down to strategy and execution. You don’t want to be outgunned.
“You look a Formula 1, and no one can hang with Mercedes. Even if they don’t win, they’ll take the other two spots on the podium.
“We want to be in a series with parity and where you have to execute every race. Here, it’s not just between two teams, it’s six or seven, and that makes it more rewarding.”
Miller is going to be something of a guinea pig for the team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, given Wilson’s own dream to one day take CJ Wilson Racing to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Even if he won’t be driving, Wilson said Miller’s shot with the ViperExchange.com/Riley Motorsports team might be an eye-opener about what it will take to go there.
“He’ll go there and explain what’s the process of going to Le Mans,” Wilson said. “None of our guys have been to Le Mans yet. We all want to go. It’s every racer’s dream to be there.
“It’s almost like getting us verified on Twitter, that we’ll have a Le Mans driver in our ranks.”
The journey for the next evolution of CJWR, the team, beyond its past MX-5 Cup title success and its Continental Tire expansion, begins this weekend. Wilson said being on site this weekend is a privilege he wishes his schedule could afford more often.
“Sometimes you feel the disconnect because it’s my team and I’m not there.”