Park Place Motorsports team owner/driver Patrick Lindsey says his team’s growth from a single-car GT Daytona squad in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to an entrant in Michelin Pilot Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama is the culmination of a long-held vision.
Lindsey, who returns to IMSA full-time this year in addition to his FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Am schedule for Team Project 1, said he realized the only way for his team to grow was to make it a destination for drivers and sponsors.
To do that, the team branched out first into GT3 Cup Challenge, and now makes its debut in Pilot Challenge competition this year with a new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport for Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson.
“It was all about putting ourselves out there,” Lindsey told Sportscar365. “We were a single-car GTD team. We had a little bit of sponsorship and then it was personal money that kept the thing going.
“We said, ‘OK, this is fine if this is all we want to do, but we wanted to grow and do bigger and better things.’ That meant, how are we going to get other people involved?
“We’ve branched out and held ourselves out there and gone about the business of trying to grow an actual business. This is the first year of this.
“You have to start somewhere and we’re really starting to push that model a little further than just being someone else in a GTD car running around.”
Lindsey said his decision to return to North American racing full-time was fueled in part by his desire to get this project off the ground.
He’s also added key staff to the team, including longtime team manager Mike Johnson as its new director of race operations, who will also oversee Park Place’s customer racing efforts.
“We want to be full encompassing from the guy that goes and buys a 911 or even a Cayenne and doesn’t realize that there are motorsport extensions off of that,” Lindsey said.
“That’s what we’re trying to grow from grassroots. Really, it’s in lockstep with Porsche’s model from the Sport Cups all the way through the Trophy Cups and into this open Challenge system. It’s a beautiful design.
“Porsche, when they go and implement this strategy, they’ll be the best manufacturer at it so we want to prepare ourselves for the coming wave of people that are going to be excited about what they can do in a Porsche and happy to have a place that can help them understand motorsports and how to get into it.
“Things like how to get licensed, to get behind the wheel, that’s what we’re working on growing right now. It’s exciting.
“It hasn’t really taken a firm, structured shape yet, so 2019 is a lot about: how do we reach out to people, how do we refine some of the processes to make sure that people have fun.”
Strong Pilot Challenge Debut at Roar
The new venture into Pilot Challenge got off to a strong start with Trent Hindman setting the fastest time at the official pre-season test earlier this month in the team’s VOLT-liveried Cayman GT4.
Lindsey said he was impressed with the new car even before it turned a wheel on track, adding that entering the GS class is an exciting step for the team.
“It’s really, really impressive,” he said of the car. “They kept them under tight wraps because it’s preceding the street model, so it’s the first time as far as I can remember that this has actually happened.
“Generally we get to see the unveiling of the street car and then the race car follows almost a year later. This is really a special case.
“It’s a huge advantage when you start with a clean slate. You get to develop the car, so the aero, the suspension components, the drive line, and the ergonomics of a race car versus a street car.
“It’s going to handle a little better. It’s going to be more comfortable. You’re not fighting the street car issues. A lot of things from the GT3 R have come over into this car.
“GS is probably one of the tougher, if not the toughest, classes in terms of depth of the field and talent, closeness of the race cars, the timing, the BoP is very, very good, so it’ll be an exciting year to watch it go around. I’m glad we have a dog in the fight to watch and cheer on.”