As Lone Star Racing makes its debut in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this weekend at its home race of Circuit of the Americas, it’s also laying the groundwork for an expanded 2016 program in the series.
The Dan Knox-led, Cresson, Texas-based team has shifted its focus from Pirelli World Challenge into the TUDOR Championship, with at least a partial schedule planned for what will become the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season.
For Knox, who had finished third in GTA and 10th overall in World Challenge in 2014, the timing was right to switch after a frustrating 2015 season where he dipped to 10th in GTA and into the mid-20s overall this year, and withdrew from the series after Road America in June.
“Part of it was our frustration with PWC and the issues they’re having. We chose to stop racing with them,” Knox told Sportscar365.
“We looked to try to find another venue, and this happened to come available with our discussions with Riley.”
“I think the thing that’s exciting for me is the multi-class, multi-driver, pit stops, it’s different than what I’ve done in the past. The crowds are so much larger here than PWC. It will be a good experience for all of us.”
Knox makes his debut alongside Riley veteran Marc Goossens, in an effort that will feature plenty of additional Riley Motorsports personnel and equipment for this race.
While Knox’s No. 80 Dodge Viper GT3-R has been converted for this one race from FIA GT3-spec in World Challenge to IMSA GT Daytona specifications (no ABS, no traction control and a smaller rear wing), the relatively small changes have made for a seamless transition.
Matt Bejnarowicz, who had been an engineer on the factory Viper GT Le Mans program, is working as an engineer alongside team manager and lead engineer AJ Petersen. A handful of additional Riley crew will help Lone Star Racing in its first endurance race.
“They’ll help us as far as this race, with a few of their crew guys, and with Matt who is going to help us engineer the car,” Knox said. “Without their assistance, we wouldn’t be here.”
The other reason for the toe-in-the-water approach ahead of 2016 – Knox did not commit to a full season, but didn’t rule it out if additional sponsorship came to fruition – was to further grow in a bigger team environment.
“For myself as a driver, I don’t have the experience as many others,” Knox explained. “I have only been driving for three years, and four years playing around before that. Having Marc will help get some additional experience and improving myself as well.
“This car is going to be competitive for many years to come,” he added. “It’s a great base chassis, and the motor is unstoppable.”
Both Vipers entered in GTD this weekend have a local component. Knox, of Pilot Point, joins Ben Keating of Port Lavaca, in seeking to succeed on home soil.
“This being our home state, home race… it’s a great opportunity to get our feet wet in an endurance race, and see what it’s like for the crew and myself,” Knox said.