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Racers in Isolation: James Sofronas

James Sofronas explains how his business has adapted to the global pandemic…

Photo: James Sofronas

Sportscar365 is contacting drivers from around the world to ask what they’re doing during the coronavirus pandemic and how they’re coping with the racing downtime.

GMG Racing team owner/driver James Sofronas (Twitter/Instagram) features in this edition.

Where are you sitting out the COVID-19 crisis? 

Luckily GMG is considered an essential business with a large part of our revenue stemming from service-based offerings for our many local Southern California clients. 

We handle everything from standard maintenance and service like oil changes, tire replacements, alignments and factory service work, to the performance tuning and builds we’ve been come to be known for, so even as the racing side of our shop has been put on hold, these essential services continue for anyone in our immediate area.

We’re also lucky to have a very strong presence online and with careful adherence to CDC guidelines, have been able to continue delivering our products to shops and clients around the country. 

While my team owner hat may be hung on the wall for now, my focus is now manning the ship throughout this busy time.

How have you adapted to the current situation from a business perspective?

We are continuing to streamline our processes to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible, all within the proper guidelines of the CDC, while practicing social distancing and a contactless customer experience to ensure the health and wellness of both our internal team and our clients.

We understand you’ve recently ventured into sim racing. Tell us a bit about your setup and what games you use.

It’s not much of a setup, yet, but it’s a very nice system with a Sparco-based support structure with seat, steering wheel and pedals, all while using a basic Xbox for gaming; mainly Project Cars. 

I bought it for my son to use and practice on when he’s not in a kart, but I seem to be enjoying it just as much.

What was your first job?

My first job was a sales job for Pitney Bowes right after I graduated college back in 1990.  The best part about that job was shortly after I accepted the job, I purchased a race car that was street legal and used that for making sales calls, all in the name of trying to earn enough money to go racing on the weekends. 

No A/C during the Boston summers in an NX 2000 SSB race car was not fun but it was all means to an end!

If you could be the President of SRO America for a day, what would you change?

Well, that’s a tough one as I have been racing SRO (PWC from 1994) for many years and I love everything about it, but I would like to go back to Laguna Seca; I really miss that track on our schedule. 

In addition I’d add a world final at Spa in the fall, but hopefully find a global sponsor to cover the travels costs for all the teams so we could have a mega year end event there to cap off the season. 

After running Spa in 2019 for the first time, I vowed to get back there as soon as possible as that track is a must-race experience! 

Approximately how many airline miles have you flown since the start of your racing career? Do you have an alliance with a specific airline?

Wow! Well into the millions by now, but lost track a long time ago. More recently I’ve started leaning more towards Delta; they seem to always deliver a great flying experience.

What’s your favorite holiday destination?

I would have to say Maui. 

That is where Nargis and I got married and we continue to go back there year after year to the same hotel… it never disappoints.

Is there a track/race still on your ‘bucket list’ that you would like to race one day?

Without a doubt I would love to do Le Mans. 

I think I could carry my own weight as a Bronze in a GTE-Am car, so that is by far one of my big bucket list events!

What’s the one thing you are most looking forward to the first day you return to a race track? 

I’ve been lucky enough to continue turning laps at The Thermal Club, as it’s a private facility.

However, car racing is intrinsically a team sport, and the forced separation and lack of camaraderie is something I miss and look forward to engaging in once the social distancing measures have been lifted.

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