No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R set for full-season effort in GT America
One of the most successful teams in North America sprint-style sports car racing is back on the track as Blackdog Speed Shop announces its return to competition in 2023 as part of the field in GT America Powered by AWS – a series sanctioned by SRO Motorsports America.
Tony Gaples, a veteran of more than 20 years in the series formerly known as World Challenge, will pilot the No. 5 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R for the full season – his first championship run since the 2020 GT4 Sprint season.
With 225 starts in SRO America/World Challenge competition, Gaples is one of three drivers in series history with more than 200 career appearances. The vast majority have come in a single-driver format – mirroring the 40-minute sprint contests that make up the 18-round GT America season.
The accomplishments of Blackdog Speed Shop in World Challenge/SRO America history are just as significant. No team in the series has more GT4/GTS class wins than Blackdog’s 41, dating back to 2013. The program is going for its sixth Driver’s championship and fifth team crown in 2023.
Gaples will be part of a crowded and talented GT4 category in GT America, which also includes categories for GT3- and GT2-spec racecars. The series will race at nine venues throughout the season with a mix of natural-terrain road courses and temporary street circuits.
The return of Blackdog Speed Shop and Gaples to SRO America competition takes place this weekend as Gaples will make his first GT America start as the series begins its season in Florida as part of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend March 3-4.
TONY GAPLES, NO. 5 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “It’s good to be back and getting ready for a new season and a new challenge. GT America calls back to what I consider one of the best times in racing with single-driver, sprint races in World Challenge. I’ve followed the series and SRO America in the last couple of years and have seen the level of competition grow in the GT4 ranks. I’m excited to jump back in with our Chevy Camaro GT4.R, a car that I feel very comfortable driving. It’s a solid, reliable package that gives us a great chance for success in a tough category. I can’t wait to get started.”
RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP: “We’re all looking forward to getting back to the racetrack and doing what we love. This is a great program for Tony and everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop. We have a talented team, a great driver and friend in Tony, plus a great car in the Camaro GT4.R. In a lot of ways, this is like coming back home. Over the years, our team has had a knack of producing race- and championship-winning efforts in this sprint format. With the people we have in place and our trusted Camaro, there’s not a reason we can’t do the same again.”
Blackdog Speed Shop at a Glance
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Driver Championships: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Team Championships: 2013, 2017, 2018, 2020
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Manufacturer Championships: 2013, 2017, 2019, 2020
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Victories: 41 – Most in class history