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, Turner Motorsport team owner Will Turner reflects on his teams’ success racing on Continental Tires, providing a launching pad for the careers of several star drivers, and some pinch-yourself moments in his career.
What are your memories of the 2011 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Championship season?
“2011 was probably one of the toughest championships to win that we’ve had because that was when there was a lot of competition.
“It was kind of when the BoP wasn’t controlled as much as it is now, so at certain races some cars were significantly better than other cars.
“I just remember the challenge of going to some race tracks with our BMW and we’d get smoked by some other cars, then we’d get to a different track and it would suit the BMW well.
“Balancing that was one of the biggest things. We didn’t win every race, obviously, but it came down to being consistent. Looking back, it was about beating the competition with consistency.”
What stands out about your championship in GT Daytona class in 2014?
“That year was amazing to me. I’m in racing because I want to win races and I want to win championships, but we really didn’t see it coming because we did struggle at the first couple of races of the year with the Z4.
“It just didn’t seem to have the pace. But the combination of Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron in the car really did their job.
“They are both amazing drivers and we were so happy to have them contribute to the first win worldwide in a professional series with the Z4 and then the first championship that the Z4 won globally as well. We didn’t really see the championship coming.
“It was our first year with that car and it wasn’t the fastest car, but it was consistent. You put Dane and Markus behind the wheel, and they do an awesome job.
“I wish I could have chained Dane Cameron to the Turner Motorsport team a little longer!”
Do you feel a sense of pride that Turner Motorsport has been a launching pad for several succesful drivers?
“Some of the drivers that I had back in the early days that have gone on to do amazing things: Justin Marks, Matt Bell, Boris Said, Joey Hand, Bill Auberlen, it’s great.
“When I have these guys and they’re in the cars, that’s what I want. They want to be a part of the Turner team because they want to win races.
“A lot of them, I would have liked to have them stick around, but part of this thing is that there’s classes above us that they can move up to and have moved up to and done big things. It’s always good to see their success.”
Do you ever have to pinch yourself about some of the drivers you’ve been able to work with?
“Of course these names and these reputations of what these guys have done are definitely something to pinch yourself and say: wow, I’ve been so fortunate to have them driving with us.
“I never would have thought when I was watching F1 on television that one day I’d have Pedro Lamy in my car leading Watkins Glen in a Turner BMW. It’s things like that that make you say: wow, we’ve achieved something here.”
What has Continental’s impact on North American sports car racing been from your perspective?
“I’ve been very close to the Continental guys since the beginning, especially their marketing department.
“The biggest thing is I know that their dedication and their marketing involvement and the money that they have spent to elevate Continental Tire into racing and a tire that you want to use on your road-going car, the impact they’ve had has elevated the exposure of my team and all the teams in IMSA.
“From a standpoint of what they’ve done and how they’ve helped, they’ve helped put the IMSA series on the map.
“They’ve opened the eyes of a lot of consumers in the United States that Continental Tire is a performance brand that wins races. That’s awesome.
“They’ve done nothing but be supportive of Turner Motorsport and the series since day one, which is really cool.”