After winning the Pirelli GT4 America Am championship in 2021, there were several options for John Geesbreght, Kevin Conway and Smooge Racing. But in the end, there was really only one choice.
“We wanted to race against the best and we want to race in the top class to continue improving and growing what Smooge Racing is and letting John continue development for his career,” explains Conway, Geesbreght’s coach and mentor through his short racing career. “In order to keep moving up, you need to beat the best, so that was the next logical option for us. We knew it’s going to be tough. We didn’t underestimate it. And it’s proven to be really tough, but we’re excited about the challenge.”
That challenge is the Silver category in GT4 America. While lightly subscribed, it’s provided some good racing and stout competition. In the face of that competition, Geesbreght (pronounced jez-bray, in case you were wondering) and Conway have scored a couple of second-place finishes in the No. 68 Supra, while the dominant force in GT4 this season, the RS1 duo of Eric Filgueiras and Stevan McAleer, have five victories to one for Gavin Sanders and Michai Stephens with Conquest Racing.
Geesbreght and Conway could have had a lot more podiums and some wins had they opted to compete in the more heavily populated Pro-Am class, which was an option since Conway is rated Bronze by the FIA. Instead, they sought the tougher competition in Silver.
“When you look at Silver, it’s definitely quality over quantity,” Conway says.
“The Pro-Am class is much bigger, but when you look at some of the Am drivers, they’re true Bronzes; you have a lot of gentleman drivers that are either starting their career in racing or just really here for the enjoyment of competing in a professional series. For us, the Silver/Silver pairing makes a lot of sense. We wanted to make sure the record books had it well noted that we won races in Silver.”
Conway had some time and success in stock cars, making a number of starts in NASCAR’s Cup series. He then found a home in Lamborghini Super Trofeo and other areas of Lamborghini Squadra Corse involvement, and that’s where he met John’s father and grandfather. When John expressed an interest in racing, his father reached out to Kevin. Thus began their partnership that has accelerated John quickly
“I had one year of MX-5 Cup,” Geesbreght says. “I did a lot of video games — not sims, console games. When I was 12, I bought a super cheap wheel and had some fun, That was really the catalyst for my passion for racing. Then I was asking my dad to get into karts, but after he saw how fast they were going, I think that kind of freaked him out a bit. After a while of being persistent, he agreed to let me have a track day with Kevin. Since then, the stars really aligned — going to MX-5 Cup, joining Toyota at the right time with the Supra program and getting in on the ground floor. Since then, we kind of hit our stride.
“It’s been an amazing learning experience in GT4. I feel like I’ve grown quite a bit with the aid of Kevin. He’s the only reason I’m at this level at all, so he’s been a super big help in cultivating what we have here right now,” the 19-year-old adds.
Smooge Racing was one of the first to adopt the Supra in North American racing, and it’s paid off for the team. Conway was somewhat the catalyst for that, having a history with Toyota in his stock car career. A single-car team in 2021, they’ve since added Supras for GT America for Joey DaSilva and occasionally another entry in GT4 America for Todd Coleman and Aaron Telitz.
So what’s with the unusual name for the team? It came from John Geesbreght’s nickname as a chubby baby, he admits. And the logo is from a photo of a three-year-old John sitting in his grandfather’s Lotus Elise, so clearly his automotive passion started young. Now he’s fighting for podiums in GT4 America, preparing for what’s next.
“We’re laying the foundation for a lot of things to come in the future and building this program up,” says Conway. “Our first step was winning the Am championship, and this year competing for the Silver championship. We’ve brought on some other teammates. I think there’s a lot more to come for Smooge Racing, and we’re excited about the future.”