There’s nothing redeeming nor educational to be found in a good social media spat. But for those in need of a mindless distraction to start the week, there’s plenty of empty calories and fleeting entertainment to be had when wealthy and privileged sports car drivers head to their smart phones and wage keyboard fisticuffs.
A rarity in ‘wine and cheese’ paddocks where the exotic cars tend to be better known than the men and women at the controls, the Twitter jabs from IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship team owner/driver Ben Keating and Magnus Racing’s veteran ace Andy Lally continue to flow.
The origins of the fight came late Saturday at Lime Rock Park, where Keating’s No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 teams were fighting for the GT Daytona class win.
Having found its way ahead of the pole-sitting No. MSR 86 Acura driven by Mario Farnbacher, Keating’s teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen made multiple attempts to get by MSR’s sister No. 57 Acura, driven by Katherine Legge, who was on an alternate fuel strategy. Having pitted early in the event, and fighting to keep from losing a lap to Bleekemolen near the midway point in the 2h40m contest, Legge was driving hard to stay on the lead lap. If she’d been lapped, MSR’s fuel strategy would have been blown; while remaining on the lead lap, the team was confident a short stop late in the race would have leapfrogged the No. 57 to the podium.
Unfortunately, with her teammate Farnbacher closing in on Bleekemolen, and Bleekemolen filling her mirrors, Keating cried foul as one MSR Acura appeared to be impeding the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG’s progress to the benefit of the sister Acura.
Late in the race, after Bleekemolen suffered a tire puncture, plummeted to ninth and lost out on any hope of a decent finish in a season that has been unkind for Keating, the frustrations started to spill out with a few statement-making salvos:
Keating expanded on the topic with another screed, questioning the veracity of IMSA’s Balance of Performance tables and whether MSR is, as required by the series, a fully independent team in IMSA’s non-manufacturer GTD class:
One day after the race, avid skateboarder, luge champion, 2011 NASCAR Rookie of the Year, MMA practitioner, and IMSA Agitator General Andy Lally, who raced for the MSR Acura GTD team in 2017 alongside Legge, joined in the fun while Keating was busy responding to fans on the growing thread.
Keating fired back citing a similar incident of a hard-to-pass Legge in 2018 when Lally exhausted all options to get by in the No. 44 Magnus Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Lally’s response to Keating’s is classic Lally…
Once Keating perked up to Lally’s challenge, more IMSA tea was spilled as he referenced the former personal relationship between Lally and Legge.
And in a questionable need to keep poking the bear, Keating also mentioned the striking visual similarity between Lally and Legge’s new boyfriend.
Lally broke away from the thread at this point, and with plenty of fan interaction keeping the subject alight, Keating’s thumbs remained on the rev limiter. Amid the exchanges, a fan encouraged Keating to take a higher road, at which point the Texan acknowledged a few truths.
Legge, for her part, has been silent regarding the Keating contretemps since the Lime Rock event concluded. Her team owner, Michael Shank, filed the lone response while on a boat, enjoying his first day off in six weeks.
And because the Internet is far from a passive place, Keating was not given free reign to control the narrative without a bit of pushback from intrepid sports car fans. The first hints of humor also started to emerge.
There’s lots more to enjoy, including Keating threatening to race an Acura in a 24 Hours of Lemons-style event, but the matter, for the most part, concluded with a closing admission nearly 48 hours after the checkered flag waved: