Reigning IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR champion Tom Long will make his series return in one of Automatic Racing’s GS-class Aston Martin Vantage GT4s in this weekend’s round at Lime Rock Park.
The former Mazda factory driver will join Rob Ecklin Jr. in the No. 97 Invisible Glass-sponsored Aston Martin, which is part of the David Russell-led squad’s expanded three-car effort for the sixth round of the Pilot Challenge season.
It will mark Long’s first Pilot Challenge start since claiming the inaugural TCR title alongside Britt Casey Jr. in a Compass Racing Audi RS 3 LMS TCR last year.
“I’ve known David [Russell], and Rob as well for a long time so I’m thrilled that everything came together for me to join the team this weekend,” said Long, who took his first-ever pro race win at the track in 2004.
“Lime Rock Park is near and dear to my heart-I grew up less than an hour away and that was where we would go watch my dad race back in SCCA.
“So to be getting the chance to drive a car that is as iconic as the Invisible Glass car is at Lime Rock, well—I’m pretty happy about this and grateful for the opportunity.”
Russell added: “It is cool to have a guy like Tom be available to slot in like this. He is a great racer and a strong coach and co-driver, so we’re happy to have him with us at Lime Rock.
“It is a really compressed weekend, so having someone that we can just plug in and go, that is going to be really critical. We’ve always tried to find ways to collaborate so I’m really happy that everything worked out.”
Ecklin’s new-for-2019 Aston will race alongside the team’s two previous-generation GT4-spec Vantages this weekend at the 1.54-mile Connecticut bullring.
“The new Aston Martin has been really a joy to drive, and hopefully all the things that the car brings with great aero and downforce plays to our strength at Lime Rock,” said Ecklin.
“Having a guy like Tom jump in will help us keep pushing that learning curve and I think we are well-prepared to have a strong run this weekend.”