While it’s been 10 days since the massive warmup crash at Road America that eliminated TRG-AMR’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 from competition, the Kevin Buckler-owned operation has been in a race around the clock to get its GT Daytona class contender back on the grid for this weekend’s race at Virginia International Raceway.
The No. 007 Aston Martin sustained considerable chassis damage in the high-speed accident, which involved the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda P2 car that was also a write-off, with both cars having been forced to withdraw from the most recent round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Since then, it’s been all hands on deck for the TRG-AMR squad. A replacement chassis was air-freighted from London Heathrow to Newark earlier this week but was delayed in customs, which presented an extra challenge given the tight turnaround between races.
“It has consumed our world,” Buckler told Sportscar365. “My wife Debra has logged 100 hours since that crash, trying to get the bits and pieces sorted. There’s been no fewer than eight shipments to and from London since.”
The replacement chassis, luckily, was released earlier today in Newark and began the 600-mile journey by ground to TRG’s East Coast shop in Charlotte for what is expected to be an all-nighter for the crew.
“We’ve got mechanics from England, my top guys and engineer and everyone standing by in our shop in Charlotte,” Buckler said. “Eight guys are going to be assembling the car through the night in order to make the grid this weekend.”
While TUDOR Championship practice doesn’t begin at VIR — a two hour drive from Charlotte — until Friday morning, Buckler and the TRG team are determined to make the race after the disappointments of Road America.
“I’ve been around a long time and you can get kicked in the stomach, but that was a big one,” Buckler said. “We actually spent well over a year, between the crew, our partners, myself… everything to put that car [in a winning position].
“Finally we were there at Road America, getting the pole. Then having that problem… to me that was bad. It was probably the worst thing that ever happened to the company, after all of the hard work.
“What do you do? If you’re a pro, you made your statement, you do what you have to do on Sunday and then on Monday morning, it’s looking forward. Nothing else. We’re going to VIR and we want to kick ass.
“That’s the only way to get ourselves out of this. If we sit around crying, it’s going to be nothing. Let’s go to VIR and try to stick the car on the pole again and try to win the race.”
TRG is out in full force this weekend, not only fielding its GTD-class Vantage for James Davison and Al Carter plus a Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class Vantage GT4, but also running six cars in the Pirelli World Challenge round at Sonoma Raceway.
It’s required Buckler to split his resources, while also keeping an eye towards the future, with new clients on hand in Sonoma, including Christina Nielsen, who will drive the team’s GT3-spec Vantage in the highly competitive GT class.
“We’re probably the most capable team in terms of running these massive operations,” Buckler said. “We’ve proven it over the years running those big programs at Daytona. But you have to divide and conquer when in separate parts of the country, especially when you’re running the same types of cars.
“It’s a pivotal weekend for us. We want to be running solid programs, not only for us but for any other team we can support in any of these places. We just we hope we do well in all the classes this weekend.”