IMSA Article: IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Race at Mid-Ohio a Double Homecoming for Ohio Native and Longtime Honda Driver Tom O’Gorman

April 27, 2019
TCR
No items found.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla - Mid-Ohio  Sports Car Course has long been a fan favorite for sports car  enthusiasts, just ask IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge driver Tom O’Gorman.

Born and raised in Mason, Ohio – just two and half hours from the  old-school road course – O’Gorman and his family were frequent visitors  to Mid-Ohio, no matter the event.

“It’s been a staple, especially on my dad’s side of the family,” said  O’Gorman. “He started going to Mid-Ohio starting in the late ‘80s with  his brother. I was born in ’91 and they started taking me in ’93 or ’94,  so I was two or three years old starting to go to Mid-Ohio watching  races.

“No one in the family was ever a participant in racing, but  especially my dad, my dad’s brother, my cousin and I, we went to every  spectator event we could every year at Mid-Ohio. I grew up on the hill  in the Esses basically watching racing.”

This year, O’Gorman won’t be watching from the Esses. Instead he’ll  be behind the wheel of the No. 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic in  the TCR class for the two-hour Pilot Challenge race on Saturday, May 4  at 1:45 p.m. ET.

And if there’s one car to watch in the TCR class, it’s this one.  O’Gorman and co-driver Shelby Blackstock enter Saturday’s race  undefeated in 2019, with wins at the first two races at Daytona  International Speedway and Sebring international Raceway.

The quick success has been a bit surprising for the team. Not only is  this the first year that O’Gorman and Blackstock have paired up, but  it’s also the first year for both drivers to compete with LA Honda  World.

The drivers’ racing backgrounds are also quite different. Blackstock  hails from the Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class and Indy Lights,  and has been on the racing scene since 2010. O’Gorman, meanwhile, made  his professional racing debut five years later – fittingly at Mid-Ohio –  but has climbed the ladder in touring car racing from the grassroots  level.

“Working together with Shelby, we’re coming to the same conclusions  every time, but we sometimes say things differently because of our  different backgrounds,” O’Gorman explained. “Working with our team  engineer, who has never worked with either of us before and us not  having worked together before, has been pretty interesting figuring out  how everybody ticks. But we’ve made a lot of progress in not a lot of  time.”

O’Gorman also brings to the table a longstanding relationship with  Honda, which has a significant manufacturing presence in Ohio. That  makes the race at Mid-Ohio doubly special for O’Gorman, looking to  perform well in front of his family in addition to the manufacturer.

“On top of it being my home race, it’s as close to Honda’s home race  as we get with this series,” said O’Gorman. “Having been at this race  for years, you always see a huge representation from Honda, but not only  from motorsports. We’re within two hours of two or three major Honda  plants and research facilities. There are manufacturing plants where  they build the cars in Ohio, there’s R&D plants. They invite all  those employees out, plus dealerships in the area with it being the home  race.

“We’ve had success at Daytona and Sebring so far, but I think being  successful at Mid-Ohio for Honda and hopefully our Honda, would probably  be the most special of the three and if we can keep the momentum  going.”

In fact, it’s Honda that O’Gorman gives significant credit to for his rise in motorsports over the last four years.

“I’ve been racing with Honda ever since I started in a club racing  car in SCCA, then World Challenge in TCB and then a TCA car and now in  TCR,” O’Gorman explained. “Every level of touring car racing that you  can do professionally, I’ve done with Honda and then I did Honda’s  grassroots level as well. For it to be their home race and then for me  to basically only be here because of Honda’s belief in me and fostering  my career and helping me rise up on each rung of the ladder, I really am  hoping to have a good race there.”

It’s easy to say that his success in touring car racing is one of the  reasons O’Gorman loves the platform. But he sees it for more than that  and a part of the bigger picture.

“I truly think this is becoming a destination, a place to be,” said  O’Gorman of TCR. “I think sometimes touring car level classes and slower  classes, when they’re combined with a faster class in the same race,  can be considered lesser than or a stepping stone to the next thing. But  I think with how fast and high performance the cars are, with how  competitive the racing is and with the types of teams and drivers coming  into the class, I think it’s got a ton of potential to become a  destination for itself.”

Now heading into his first IMSA race at Mid-Ohio, O’Gorman’s quick  success in the series – four wins in eight starts – is starting to hit,  literally, close to home.

“I grew up as a fan of racing rather than a participant and it’s  always been pretty clear,” said O’Gorman. “Whatever the series was  called growing up, now being the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and the  MICHELIN Pilot Challenge, it’s always been pretty apparent to me as a  fan that it’s where the professionals make their homes and it’s the most  legitimate form of professional sports car racing in North America.

“To continue to have success like I did at the other levels is not  necessarily something you think about a lot, but is extremely  legitimizing and prideful. To come in on this stage too, around all the  people that you’re with – the best of the best in my mind – to continue  to have success and when you do actually think about it, is really  cool.”

Source: https://imsatv.imsa.com/news/042019/imsa-michelin-pilot-challenge-race-mid-ohio-double-homecoming-ohio-native-and-longtime

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.

Recent News