One of the smallest teams in the TC America Paddock, VGMC Racing and driver Victor Gonzalez have impressed in their debut season of TCR competition by notching a pair of wins including Race 2 at Road America.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Gonzalez tells us about his team’s giant-slaying mentality, what the future holds, and what the reception to the Puerto Rican team’s success has been within the Puerto Rican community.
What was the significance of your win in Race 2 at Road America?
“It was our second victory. First, it shows that our first victory at Sonoma wasn’t a fluke. This is a small team, and it’s so gratifying that we can show that being so small we can accomplish so much.
“We knew we had a great car on Saturday, we just had a part failure. We realized that we had the part failure on Sunday when we were changing the setup of the car for the rain.
“We realized when we were changing the bars, the front swaybar was broken. That’s why I spun on Saturday, because I had so much front grip.
“We’re running in a professional series, but I feel like we are a grass-root team. I want to show people that it doesn’t matting that you don’t have a big rig and a lot of personnel as long as you have the will and the desire.”
What has the reception from your competitors been?
“Everyone has been so cool about it. Everybody gets along. But they give us more respect now because they don’t see us as a small team anymore, they see us as a competitor.
“That’s what I want to feel. I don’t want any pity, I want them to feel like they have to watch out because we can win.”
What motivates you to make some of the long trips you have made this year?
“Portland was almost 3,200 miles one way. Every time before I leave, I think: this is crazy! But then I think about what we can accomplish.
“We’re building something for the future, and that’s why we’re working so hard and putting on all these miles. Next year we’re going to have three cars, two TCA cars and the TCR car, and we have people calling us wanting us to run them in the series.
“On the sports car side, it doesn’t matter how big your operation is if you have a good setup. Everything starts there. We have shown what we can do so that’s why they are calling.
“From being a one car team now we’re going to have three. We’re going to grow, but we’re going to keep having our small team mentality. I think that’s what’s taken us so far so I want to keep it.”
Will your expansion be with Honda?
“Yes sir. Honda has been great with us and they want to grow the relationship and give us more support.”
What has the reception been like at home in Puerto Rico?
“I just did a Facebook Live, and it was awesome. Not just in Puerto Rico, but from a lot of Puerto Ricans in the States.
“One guy just bought a brand-new Civic and drove from Nebraska 10 hours to go and see us race at Road America. He was there when we won.
“At the Glen, we had two people who drove from New Jersey to go and see us. It’s baby steps. We’re creating a movement.
“People here in Puerto Rico, they see us and say they want their kid to race for us! We’re really small, we’re not a Penske, but they see that if we can do it, they can do it too.”
What are your thoughts ahead of the finale in Las Vegas?
“It’s going to be a big surprise when we get there. Our goal is to get the pole and win both races. We have crossed the line that we know that we can go to any event and be competitive.
“After Sonoma, we had a couple problems at Portland and Watkins Glen, but we have learned enough about the setup window of the car that I don’t see why we can’t go there and get the pole and win both races to finish the year strong.”