Paul Holton says he has high expectations for Crucial Motorsports’ pro racing debut in this weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hour powered by AWS after “taking the helm” of Compass Racing’s former McLaren 720 GT3 operation.
Holton and business partner Aaron Nash have joined forces under the Florida-based street car tuner/club racing team for a step into GT3 competition with an experienced group of personnel and support from both McLaren and JOTA Sport for the U.S. leg of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli.
The 28-year-old former World Challenge TC class champion was last seen driving in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Compass’ McLaren GT Daytona class program that came to an end last year.
“My relationship with Compass ended and their [GT3] relationship with McLaren ended,” Holton told Sportscar365. “I kind of found that boat floating out in the ocean, took the helm, brought it back to port.
“In May we bought the car from the previous car owner and shipped it back home [to Florida].
“We basically tore it down to the chassis, completely rebuilt it with a new motor, a new drivetrain, everything that’s really needed after two years of IMSA racing.”
Holton, who has been involved with Crucial’s tuning and club racing efforts for the last six years, has worked through the summer months helping assemble a team focused on endurance racing.
It’s included the hiring of Compass’ former technical director Ray Lee.
“I kind of picked up all of the Compass guys that were let go at the end of last year,” Holton said.
“We’ve got a couple of guys that have come off JDC and a couple other guys that are known good crew guys that we’ve worked with in the past.
“It’s a conglomerate. We’re all very happy to be here and excited to be part of what I’m hoping is going to be a stout program.”
With McLaren factory drivers Rob Bell and Ben Barnicoat sharing the wheel of the JOTA Sport-engineered car with Holton this weekend, the group has set “lofty goals” of reaching the overall podium.
The No. 59 McLaren is the only GT3 car not entered for either IGTC or Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS points.
“Honestly, just going out on and executing well,” Holton said. “With good pit stops and good strategy, I think we’ll have the pace to be there in the end.
“We’re the only [GT3] car that’s not scoring IGTC points. So we’re 100 percent here for the podium. If we’re not on the podium, in my opinion, we’ve missed the mark.”
Team Exploring IMSA, SRO America Options for 2022
Holton said this weekend’s effort is serving as a “big marketing exercise” to find a customer for either a GTWC America or WeatherTech Championship campaign next year.
“Our plans are up in the air,” he said. “I really want to go and do the Rolex 24. But I’m super impressed with the [SRO America] paddock. It’s been since 2018 that I’ve been in this paddock.
“It’s definitely taken several steps up and really good to see.
“Both from a team management side and driving side… Whether I’m in the car or not, it’s not the end of the world. This is a business and it’s got to operate.
“We’ve got a good setup with all-new equipment, crew guys that are really on point. We’ve been in the shop prepping for two months now.
“We’ve done almost two weeks of pit stop practices. I really expect this to be a good program. We’re definitely set up to do endurance races.”