Racing, music blend as Umphrey’s McGee partners with GTSport Racing for rest of 2015 PWC season

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – You don’t necessarily think of funkadelic, progressive rock when you first arrive at a racetrack, but you do occasionally think of different styles.

Things like different driving styles, different varieties and styles of cars, or experimenting with different setups or strategies, are all definitive elements of a race weekend.

So with that in mind, it serves as a perfect intro to the fusion and blend of Chicago progressive rock band Umphrey’s McGee and GTSport Racing.

The two will come together, as Umphrey’s will adorn Jack Baldwin’s No. 73 Porsche Cayman S for the balance of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTS season, starting at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend.

It’s a pretty big deal and a great bit of news for the GTSport Racing team, for the series, and for Umphrey’s in their newest arena they’re featured at: racetracks.

This marks Umphrey’s first foray into motorsports, but you’ve probably heard them in several major mainstream sports arenas.

Umphrey’s has recorded the theme song for one of ESPN’s top studio shows, “Around the Horn,” and has also recorded for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bulls.

Over a stout 17-plus year career, the band plays more than 100 shows annually and has more than 3.5 million downloads. They own their own indie record label, Nothing Too Fancy Music, and have recently released “The London Session: A Day at Abbey Road Studios,” where the band recorded 10 songs in 1 day in Studio 2 of Abbey Road.

“Umphrey’s is the sum of the parts, pulling from influences across a myriad of genres,” says UM manager Kevin Browning. “Many of those styles perfectly align with the high energy, fast paced nature of racing. We’ve been known to drop the proverbial hammer, and that’s something both music and race fans can get behind.”

Umphrey’s was first introduced to GTSport Racing at Road America at the end of June, but this weekend sees the band take over the hood and doors of the Cayman. (Photo below)

Photo: Tony DiZinno

“GTSport Racing is thrilled to have Umphrey’s McGee on board for the remainder of the 2015 season,” Baldwin said. “Their sound and energy is fantastic, I believe their involvement can bring a lot to the sport and motorsport fans will enjoy having a band to call their own.”

Baldwin enters the Mid-Ohio weekend on a roll, having won one race and scored four podium finishes in the last four races, and sits fourth in the championship standings. Teammate Buz McCall enters 13th in points.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.