TRG - The Racers Group Officially Licensed Gear
RaceChairs is the official producer for the TRG Licensed line of Office Furniture. There are currently two models to celebrate the more notable accomplishments of Kevin Bucklers teams.
Beginnings | Going Pro | A New Decade | 2002 | Encore Performance
Daytona Prototypes | The GM Connection | 2007 and Beyond | 2008 Rolex 24 Champions
The History of The Racer's Group
The Racer's Group was founded in 1994 in Monterey, CA, when Kevin Buckler took his knack for tinkering with speed parts and turned it into a small business. Since its first days operating out of Kevin and Debra's garage, the company has continued to grow and now encompasses a 20,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility, housing the multi-car professional race team, the arrive and drive and customer racing programs, the parts business, as well as the offices, showroom, and display areas. nnings
In the late 1980's Kevin began this pursuit of a dream with participation in local driving events, autocrosses, and multiple Porsche Club of America events and functions. In 1990, he attended his first ever high speed driving event at Road America and from that day forward the hook was set. In 1992, Kevin started racing in regional and national Porsche Club races, methodically working his way up through the ranks.
The company began in Kevin and Debra Buckler's garage and driveway in Monterey, Ca., hidden behind the hedge and out of view from the neighbors. Cars and parts were constantly being assembled and dis-assembled. Kevin manned the phones and Debra handled all the paperwork and the shipping. On the weekends, they went off and attended a variety of events, races, and swap meets. Kevin raced using the parts they were developing and selling. Kevin had built a 1972 911 race car with an arsenal of TRG performance parts and successfully competed in numerous events over the next few seasons. Those days were hard and, as they still do today, they put in very long hours.
Kevin entered his first professional race, the 1995 IMSA California Grand Prix, after several years of running up-front in the amateur ranks. Against long odds, Kevin won that race, and The Racer's Group professional racing team was born. All the while, Kevin continued the development of all of the company's racing related parts and accessories and stayed true to his roots by staying involved in multiple club racing programs.
In late 1995, The Racer's Group moved it s operation from the Monterey shop and garage where it started to a new home at Sears Point International Raceway in Sonoma, CA, and continued on a steady climb.
From 1995 until 1999, The Racer's Group gained valuable experience and respect at some of the best tracks in the country, including Kevin's first entry in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1996. The company continued to evolve its performance parts business and opened it's service and performance shop trackside in 1996. With the success of the race team, came the formation of the Arrive & Drive business, and the company expanded into 2 additional shops at the race track. TRG has to give credit to Kevin's friend (and first sponsor) Mike Cobler in assisting in the build of the teams first professional race car and helping to get it all started.
In 2000, after years of successfully running and beating the Porsche factory built race cars with its "homebuilt"¯ early 911 chassis and high revving 3.6 liter race engines, TRG purchased the very first customer GT3-R ever produced for the North American Market. This was chassis #001.
Kevin ran a full schedule with co-driver Philip Colin throughout the 2000 season along with several other team cars. This was the beginning of a long and successful factory involvement with TRG and Porsche, and Kevin and Philip had a great year.
Just before the 2002 season started, Kevin and longtime friend Michael Schrom had a meeting to discuss the upcoming season and how they could partner together the following year. This was the formation of one of the most successful partnerships and friendships in professional sportscar racing's recent history.
The Racer's Group received great news - the Porsche factory offered to assist the team at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona by lending the services of factory drivers Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister. After seven previous attempts at Daytona, with drivers Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister alongside Kevin, The Racer's Group won the GT class at the 2002 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, setting the wheels in motion for a historic season.
With the success of the team at Daytona, the Porsche factory again rewarded TRG with factory support and drivers for the 2002 24 Hours of Le Mans. In one of the closest GT races in history, Kevin, Timo and Lucas Luhr edged the German Porsche Factory team by little more than one minute to capture a win at the team's maiden run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Between the wins at the Rolex 24 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2002, The Racer's Group enjoyed a phenomenal level of success and a true "Dream Season". As the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am seasons continued, The Racer's Group strung together a long series of top finishes, including wins at the Grand Prix of Mosport, Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio and Grand-Am 400 at California Speedway. TRG finished on the podium 14 times in 2002, including 8 in a row in the ALMS.
After the season, Kevin and co-driver Michael Schrom were rewarded handsomely with a 1-2 finish in the Porsche World Cup standings. The award, given annually to the top independent Porsche drivers in the world, was given to Kevin at the Porsche factory in Weissach, Germany in December, 2002 by Porsche Boss and board member, Wolfgang Durheimer. Kevin and Michael were the first and only teammates to finish 1-2 in the Porsche Cup. Their achievement was a testament to the preparation, skill and dedication it takes to win at the top levels of professional sports car racing.
Looking forward to the 2003 season, TRG questioned how it could top it's accomplishments from the previous year. As the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona neared, many of the Porsche faithful wondered if TRG could repeat as the GT winner at the Rolex 24. The competition was strong, including a formidable assault by Ferrari. Porsche Motorsports offered to assist TRG and once again, committed Timo and Jorg to the team. When Michael Schrom signed-on, the "dream team"¯ from TRG's 2002 win was once again in place and the team was ready.
During the race, the three-car TRG team worked its way methodically through the field, and in the 8th hour, the #66 car took the overall lead. Though the team's hopes for all three cars to finish on the podium were dashed by two accidents, the #66 car would never give up the lead. At 1:00 p.m. on February 2, 2003, The Racer's Group became the first GT-class team to win overall at the 24 Hours of Daytona since 1977. It was a truly historic moment in the history of the team and in the history of Porsche. The entire team drove and executed the perfect race.
For the 2003 season, TRG was also running in the American Le Mans Series and working with a large corporate sponsor. The team began crafting it's skills at executing marketing driven programs and large corporate hospitality events. To this date, TRG was the only team to successfully run a 3 car effort for the entire ALMS season.
In 2004, in ALMS, TRG underwent a complete re-branding to correspond with sponsor's needs. Leading the charge with factory driver Patrick Long, the team acquired two of the very first incredible GT3-RSR's and a had a very strong season, while simultaneously running a two car Grand Am effort with the TRG powder blue GT3-RS's. This was the first time in sportscar history that a team ran a successful multi-car team in both series' for the entire year.
In late 2004 Kevin Buckler and Tracy Krohn decided to join forces for what was to become one of the most successful and feared first year teams ever in the DP ranks. Krohn Racing/TRG was formed, and the team was fast and competitive from the very first Test Days at Daytona. The driver line-up of Christian Fittipaldi, Max Papis, Jorg Bergmeister, Nic Jonsson and Tracy Krohn was one of the strongest in the paddock. Joining them for the Daytona 24 was Boris Said, Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice and GM driver Oliver Gavin.
In 2004, Pontiac's departure from NASCAR raised a few eyebrows but it was a calculated move by General Motors that would find it s way into a wildly successful partnership with TRG in short order. GM was unhappy with having sister brands (Chevrolet and Pontiac) competing against each other in NASCAR, as well as the costs associated with it. GM saw an opportunity to have Pontiac, it's performance brand, enter the professional sportscar racing arena, but needed a successful partner to run the program. In late 2004, Kevin Buckler was asked to come to Detroit for a meeting with General Motors to discuss the possibility of partnering with GM to race a Pontiac GTO.R in the Grand American Rolex series. GM had identified TRG as one of the top teams in the series, and had been especially interested because TRG was winning with the exact marque that GM wanted to beat---Porsche.
The deal was struck and TRG was selected by GM as the factory sportscar team. Pontiac Motorsports and TRG teamed up to race the new generation of Pontiac GTO vehicles, specifically the new GTO.R. GM brought in Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen to drive the #64, while TRG put Marc Bunting, R.J. Valentine and Andy Lally in the driver's seat of the #65. The GTO.Rs debuted at Daytona and saw success throughout the season. After Daytona, and in a testament to TRG's preparation, the team finished on the podium at every single race in the 2005 and the 2006 season, and in the process set a new Grand American record of the longest podium streak ever (23 in a row).
In 2006, Kelly Collins replaced Magnussen, and the TRG GTO.Rs proved to be formidable competition on the track. On the back of TRG, and with the help of title sponsors iRise and F1 Air, Pontiac brought home the manufacturer's championship, TRG took 1st and 3rd in the team championship, and drivers Bunting and Lally took home the driver's championship. TRG won the elusive "Triple Crown"¯ and set numerous records throughout the season for one of the most successful years ever for a professional sportscar team.
As TRG looks forward to 2007, it is hard to ignore the success of the past. Kevin Buckler and his team have proven time and time again that it is a premier sportscar force- on and off the track. 2006 brought many new faces into the fold, and a solid management foundation has been built to propel TRG into even higher ranks of success. Sales, marketing and race teams are stronger than ever before, bringing more knowledge and experience to the table- all in the name of the continuous pursuit of excellence through tough challenges and sweet victories.
TRG won the 47th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona GT race today. Justin Marks, RJ Valentine, Andy Lally, Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister drove the No. 67 TRG Porsche 997 to victory by a narrow margin over their teammates. The No. 66 of Ted Ballou, Tim George Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Emmanuel Collard and Richard Lietz came second, giving TRG a one-two finish to open Speed Weeks at Daytona.
The turning point in the race came on lap 577 at 11:45 a.m. this morning when Lally and Pumpelly were engaged in a battle for the lead with the No. 86 Porsche. Until this point the lead changed over several times throughout the night between the two TRG 997s and the No. 86 and had narrowed from a 30 car race, to just 3. In the late morning the 86 slowed and pulled off of the track, due to an axle failure. The deal was made between the teams that if the 86 broke that the teams would freeze their running order and take the checker accordingly. The team did not want two cars taking a chance of racing each other and having the worst happen.
“It is a great way to start the season,” Marks said. “I was excited to get started with TRG. I knew going in that we had a shot at winning and I was really enthused after the test. But it really doesn’t sink in until you cross the finish line. This is a great welcome back to sports cars and start the season with Andy and Kevin. I have been lucky enough to win the 250 here twice, this is just on an awesome scale. It is special because I made my Daytona debut with TRG.”
“It doesn’t get any better than this!” Valentine said. “It is a thrill beyond my imagination. I am 64 years old and what happened today has me in shock. This is the greatest thing in racing that has happened to me in 30 years of competing. Kevin and the TRG guys run a great team. They take great care of me and prepare a fast Porsche. The car ran great and all of the guys did an excellent job today. It was a great race.”
“I have finished second here three times before,” Lally said. “I know what the 66 guys feel like, it is tough. The car was so well prepped, the crew made it bullet-proof. We had minimum mistakes and there isn’t a dent on the car – only dust. It is a great way to start the season for the team, Kevin and especially Justin and I. I am a small part of an awesome program. Daytona is the pinnacle of racing for me. We wanted to give RJ the honor of taking the car across the finish line, that was special for everyone on the team.”
“Thanks to Kevin and TRG for giving me my first shot at the race a few years ago and my first win,” Long said. “I don’t think that the car had a nick on it. Andy and Kevin led the team, Joerg and I just did some work and Justin and RJ ran mistake free, consistent laps. It is really surreal for me. I thought this was one that was going to keep slipping through the cracks and one that I would have to chase my whole career. This Rolex has slipped away from me a couple of times, so that makes it twice as sweet.”
“Wow,” Buckler said. “It has been a lot of work this last four months. We have a team of five cars that are really driven by a whole bunch of my friends and that makes it all the more special. Each team had a slightly different goal & I am so glad that we were able to accomplish most of them. I have shared some great moments with these guys before and Daytona is a special place for TRG. Our team chemistry is a big part of our success. I am really proud of that, it is cool.”
“The guys had a great event,” Buckler continued. “We brought all of our cars to the checker except one. The quality of driving we had this weekend in all five cars was fantastic. It is a real accomplishment for TRG to have 4 cars finish this cruel race and take the ultimate plum….a 1-2 finish.