ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 20, 2023) – Tony Gaples and Blackdog Speed Shop experienced the highs and lows of racing at Road America in GT America Powered by AWS competition over the weekend. Despite showing race-winning speed and engineering, the Blackdog team left its home track with a best result of fourth in Saturday’s first 40-minute sprint race.
Testing Thursday and Friday were pretty routine with Gaples and the Blackdog engineering team getting a feel for the new Road America surface from a year ago. Saturday was a different story as Gaples went on the attack to qualify third for Race One in GT4 – his best starting position of the season.
The Camaro rocketed to second place by the third corner but fell down to seventh after getting pushed wide by several overtaking cars throughout the rest of the lap as the newer GT4 machinery came to the forefront.
The march back toward the front began a couple laps later. Gaples picked up three spots back to fourth by the fourth lap, and he moved back to third just prior to the halfway point while setting the fastest GT4 race lap along the way. He had to deal with overtaking GT3 cars, which slowed his pace just enough to prevent him from moving to second.
A half-second from the lead at the 15-minute mark, the Blackdog Camaro’s progress was further stymied by the first of two full-course yellows. Gaples fell to fourth on a restart with 10 minutes to go, and any hopes of climbing on the podium ended with a race-ended yellow seven minutes from the end.
There were tons of reasons to be hopeful and optimistic for Sunday’s second race. To no one’s surprise, Gaples jumped away at the start to lead by almost a second after the first lap and maintained that gap through the first 10 minutes.
Disaster struck near the 15-minute mark as the Camaro began to lose pace and Gaples began to lose positions. He plummeted down to ninth in class before pulling the Camaro into the pitlane where the team diagnosed a terminal lock-up in the brake system that caused the rear brakes to stay engaged.
Blackdog Speed Shop will regroup ahead of its next race – Sept. 22-24 at Sebring International Raceway.