No. 66 PayPal/HP Aston (TRG-AMR)

TRG-AMR to race PayPal/HP Vantage GT3 at Monterey Rolex race

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TRG will premiere its Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, adapted with a couple new electronic additions to comply with GRAND-AM specifications, in this weekend’s GRAND-AM Rolex Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey.

The TRG-AMR North America partnership produced a class win two weeks ago in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class at Sonoma, scored by Brandon Davis took in the team’s No. 27 Barracuda Networks/ACS Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (separate car).

“TRG-AMR has provided a great opportunity for me this year to drive these amazing Aston Martin race cars,” Davis said in a release. “From Long Beach early in the year to Sonoma a few weeks ago, I must say that I really love racing these cars.  Not only are they easy to drive but they are fast and always competitive.  I feel like I have a chance to win every time I get behind the wheel.”

Davis will share the No. 66 Aston this weekend with Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner as the team goes for broke in the Rolex GT class.

“I’ve been fortunate to have raced for Aston Martin for many years all over the world.  AMR builds great race cars, and I am more than thrilled that I will have the chance to make history here in North America with the GT3’s first run in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series,” Turner said.

“Kevin has always run a first rate operation, one based on attention to details that has produced some great results over the years.  And I look forward to racing with Brandon as well.  He’s certainly had some success in the Astons, and we will be a great team!!”

Corporate support for Kevin Buckler’s team comes from PayPal, Hewlett-Packard, ACS, Royal Purple, Aston Martin of Los Gatos. Buckler, himself, drove an Aston GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge race at Sonoma and finished sixth in the No. 66 Jawbone/Adobe Road Winery car.

“The GT3 is an incredible race car and has been built specifically to race here in the Grand-Am series,” Buckler said. “With one of Aston Martin’s most decorated and successful drivers on our team along with a talented champion like Brandon, we believe we can really be strong for this opening weekend. The team has been testing and all of the guys have been working so hard to be ready.”

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March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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