It was quite a weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus for Tony Gaples. In addition to a pair of top-10 finishes in Pirelli World Challenge SprintX competition, the Blackdog Speed Shop veteran made his 200th start in the series – one of only three drivers to reach that mark.
“I can’t believe I’ve started 200 races in World Challenge,” said Gaples, driver of the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
“Wow… it’s hard to believe it’s been this many. I felt like a rookie for the first 25 percent of those!
“I’ve made a lot of close friends since I started World Challenge in 2002. We’re all very competitive but have a healthy respect for each other.
“In a lot of ways, racing is more about people than anything else.
“That all starts with our great group at Blackdog Speed Shop, and I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without them and many of our partners, including Chevrolet.
“It’s been great getting to 200 races with all of them. I hope I have the chance to do 200 more!”
Gaples made his first start in World Challenge during the 2002 season, and he has spent the entirety of his career in the GT ranks with Chevrolet vehicles – first the Corvette from 2002-2013 and 2013 to today with the Camaro brand.
He won last year in GTSA at Sonoma Raceway in the Camaro GT4.R.
“Tony Gaples and Blackdog Speed Shop set the standard for consistency and quality of execution in professional motorsport,” said Greg Gill, President and CEO of WC Vision.
“In a sport where 100 starts is considered great, 200 is exceptional. We congratulate Tony on this milestone as well as look forward to celebrating many more with him.”
This is the second year for Gaples with the Camaro GT4.R. He and Michael Cooper finished 10th and seventh in GTS SprintX competition this past weekend in Utah. The pairing gained a combined 31 spots in each race, having to come from deep in the field from the start.
Gaples improved 13 spots in Saturday’s first race following a brake issue in qualifying. He called it one of the best drives of his career and took every opportunity he could to pass.
Blackdog Speed Shop wraps up the PWC season at Watkins Glen International for a GTS Sprint weekend Aug. 31-Sept. 2.