Kevin Buckler and his The Racer’s Group team will miss their first Rolex 24 at Daytona in 22 years when the green flag waves over the field on Saturday. It’s a strange reality to consider for the Bay Area team after its armada of Porsches, Daytona Prototypes and other marques have become so heavily associated with the grand endurance race since 1996.
According to Buckler, two reasons led to skipping the Rolex 24 in the GT Daytona class.
“It’s tough for me after 22 straight years of going,” he told RACER. “With the high costs and significant manufacturer involvement, I didn’t want to put a deal together to be there just for the sake of being there if there wasn’t a reasonable chance to win. I don’t want our brand to be field fillers.
“That’s the No. 2 reason. The No. 1 reason is I’ve waited 15 years for my winery to break loose and I’m in the middle of building a dynamic project – a winery/entertainment complex in my hometown of Petaluma right on the riverfront. For myself, my wife, and our partners, we have a chance to do something epic and the only way to do it is to go all-in. If you go all-in at Daytona, and it sucks your brain out for three months getting everything ready.”
TRG’s finest day at Daytona came in 2003 when the team took the overall victory, and altogether, four wins and 13 podiums have been captured by Buckler’s squad.
Although they won’t be racing in Florida this weekend, look for TRG to be on track later this year in the Pirelli World Challenge series.
“I sent a note to all the guys at IMSA congratulating them on what I think is going to be an amazing event, and I wish we could be there and be part of it,” he added. “But we’ll be back out there in PWC this year trying to get more wins for our sponsors and drivers. All those years in the same Daytona garages, running five cars – the most of anyone – for such a long time. I’m going to miss it this year.”