Blackdog Speed Shop Brings GT4 Momentum to VIR
Classic road course up next for rapidly improving GT America program
LINCOLNSHIRE, Illinois (June 14, 2023) – It’s fast, flowing and technical. And it’s a favorite track of Tony Gaples and Blackdog Speed Shop.
“It” is Virginia International Raceway, which plays host to the full slate of SRO Motorsports America – including GT America Powered by AWS, where Gaples and the Blackdog Speed Shop program are building a level of momentum heading into the season’s midpoint.
Gaples drove his No. 5 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R to a pair of fourth-place finishes in the series’ GT4 class at the most recent event at Circuit of The Americas. What’s more, Gaples was awarded the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of the Race in Sunday’s 40-minute round – his first of the year.
The results at COTA lend credence to the improvement the Blackdog program has made since returning to SRO competition for the first time since 2020. The most successful GT4/GTS team in series history, Blackdog jumped feet first into a highly competitive and deep GT4 field.
This is the first time Blackdog Speed Shop has traveled to VIR since the 2020 season when Michael Cooper won two of three GT4 races for the team. A single-car effort this year, continuing to extend tire life will prove to be a key to success at the fast but highly technical roller-coaster ride that is the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit.
The track also holds significant meaning to Gaples as it was the site of his first podium in racing during the 2001 season.
Blackdog Speed Shop and the No. 5 Camaro will race in the first of two GT America races from VIR at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s second race at 8:45 a.m. ET. Live coverage of both races plus timing & scoring will be available at gtamerica.us and SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.
TONY GAPLES, NO. 5 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “We’re getting into a fun part of our calendar. It all starts with VIR. This is a real drivers track where you get long straights, elevation change and low-, medium- and high-speed corners throughout the lap. It’ll be important for us to have a good Camaro right off the truck because chasing the setup of the car during the weekend is a big challenge at a place like this. Hopefully we have a good handle on the chassis and tires early on so we can keep ahead of the competition.”
RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP: “COTA was a big deal for Tony and the whole team. It was the first time this year where we really felt we were competitive and could challenge for the front positions. It’s taken awhile but we’re continuing to improve. The tires can take a beating at VIR with the track temperature and the constant change of direction and elevation during a lap. The degradation will be pretty high so helping Tony to manage the tire life is going to be a key part of our weekend strategy.”