GEAR, Grasser split ahead of IMSA's Daytona return

Image by Galstad/Motorsport Images

GEAR, Grasser split ahead of IMSA's Daytona return


GEAR, Grasser split ahead of IMSA's Daytona return


The Girl Empowerment Around Racing and Grasser Racing Team (GEAR/GRT) IMSA WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona program will not answer the bell for Round 2.

GEAR owner Mark Ruggieri informed GRT owner Gottfried Grasser, who ran the No. 19 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen, Rahel Frey and Tatiana Calderon at January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona on behalf of GEAR, of a desired dissolution between the parties at the beginning of June.

According to Ruggieri, multiple breaches of contract during January’s Daytona event where the all-female squad made its debut with GRT, and during a pre-Sebring test, were cited and presented to GRT, which led to the eventual split. Grasser did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

Despite the swift and acrimonious end to the GEAR and GRT relationship, RACER has learned IMSA attempted to broker peace between all involved parties by arranging a recent teleconference to clear the air and determine if reconciliation was possible. Although initial hopes were high that the No. 19 Lamborghini would be a late addition to the WeatherTech 240 entry list, and most of the discord is said to have been resolved, GEAR and GRT will not resume their relationship.

“We hit the pause button several weeks back when this all started,” Ruggieri told RACER. “The goal is to get the GEAR team back on track in IMSA as soon as possible, but when it’s responsible with all we’re seeing with COVID[-19] and the timing is right. It’s important to field the all-female program because it’s important for IMSA, and in the U.S., and in bridging the cultural gaps, gender gaps, and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. I think there’s a lot more that can be done there, because it’s lacking. Our program is still to get the girls back on track as soon as possible when it’s safe. The timing is what matters most.”

Ruggieri is aiming for GEAR’s return at Round 5 in Wisconsin with a new partner team and a new car. Rumors of bringing the Callaway Corvette C7 GT3 to IMSA’s GTD class have circulated, and continuing with Legge and Nielsen is an ambition.

“It’s all to be determined; there’s plenty of teams on standby, but it’s been tricky to do all this during the quarantining,” he said. “This was a favorite racing program with Katherine and Christina and the girls, which we want to stay the same. The goal is still to make a return at Road America. We hope to have that decision in place within the next week to make that happen.”