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, Britt Casey Jr. reflects on winning the first TCR class championship in IMSA history, balancing work, school, and racing, competing against his teammates, and more.
What was the significance of winning the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship this year?
“It was really special for two reasons, I think. It was the first championship for TCR in IMSA, and we had also won the first race of TCR at Daytona.
“But it was also important because it was the last year for Continental. They’ve been around for the entirety of my career in the series.
“When I started in 2014, they were the tire provider then and they’ve been a really big part of the growth of IMSA. I think they have a lot of credit to their name for that.”
What was the biggest challenge making the step from ST to TCR?
“The biggest challenge was, because our program came together so late, just two weeks before Daytona, we had a massive thrash just to make that race. We didn’t do any testing.
“The first time [co-driver] Tom [Long] and I drove the car was the first day of Daytona and we had absolutely zero issues with the car.
“The guys had four days to do all the mandatory IMSA changes from electronics to mechanical stuff, and it was about a week’s worth of work.
“They stayed up and did 20 hour days in Boca Raton to make it happen. But the car was perfect from the start. The challenge of the unknowns was the biggest challenge coming in with zero experience in the car.”
What was the highlight of the season for you?
“Daytona was my first win in the series, it was the first race for TCR, and knowing all the things that went into that race and being able to win it right off the bat was huge.
“In terms of the most critical part of the season, it would have to be the race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca because that created a nine point swing when we won that race.
“That set us into a huge advantage for the race at Road Atlanta.”
What the team dynamic like given that your closest championship competitors were also your teammates?
“I was joking around with [Compass Racing teammate] Kuno [Wittmer] after Road Atlanta because I got him to laugh a couple times throughout the season and it was the same stuff that I laugh at.
“I was telling him about it and I said: we make each other laugh all the time, I wish I wasn’t fighting you for a championship this whole year because I feel like we’d get along pretty well. I think that was the biggest story.
“It was a missed opportunity to get to know a really fast guy with a huge resume. I was racing against him once at Road America and we had an awesome battle together for an hour, nose to tail, and it came down to the last lap who was going to win.
“It was great. We never made any type of contact and it was totally clean. It was really cool to stack up against him, and getting him to laugh was cool because I’m a fan. I’ve seen his racing and I’m a big fan of it.”
How do you balance school, work, and your racing?
“I think on one hand it’s difficult. In terms of the time commitment and social commitments I definitely have a unique lifestyle because I’m working a lot.
“I work at Brad Kettler’s shop [Kettler Motor Werks] which is close to school for me [at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio] and is incredible. A guy like that who has won Le Mans six times, it’s insane. He’s super, super smart.
“In terms of school and the education that I’m getting, I really use it a lot in racing. I’m a marketing major and, for example, today I was talking to a potential new sponsor candidate and I get to use my degree and apply it while I’m learning it.
“It definitely helps improve the retention of the information but it also helps me in racing. Working at the shop for literally a world-class engineer with Brad, that helps immensely too.”