Sonoma, Calif. (14 September 2017) – 2015 Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Platinum Class Champion Mark Nelson will be back racing in a Porsche this weekend. And for the first time, it will be as part of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championship as the California racer takes what he’s learned in the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA and applies it in IMSA competition.
Having taken some time off from his racing endeavors following the birth of his second daughter, Nelson is eager to get back to race action at his home track of Sonoma Raceway. The opportunity to join the IMSA ranks comes as a combined effort between Competition Motorsports and Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
“I’ve been competing in the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy for the past several years, both with TRG and then more recently with Competition Motorsports,” said Nelson. “Now with two little girls under two years old, we have our hands rather full for the time being, but doing an event close to home makes the race weekend viable. I’m teaming up with Kelly-Moss as both Jeff Stone and Bob Faieta at Competition Motorsports are doing me a massive favor by making this event happen. Bob’s 991.1 was available, but all of his equipment is in the Midwest for the Pirelli GT3 Cup rounds, going between COTA and Road America. Since Bob and Jeff are good friends, Jeff is helping support me for this one-off event in Bob’s car. I am extremely thankful to both Bob and Jeff for their generosity in doing this out-of-band to support me!”
Nelson resides in Marin, California which is just 25 miles from the Sonoma Raceway circuit. Though new to IMSA competition, Nelson is no stranger to the track itself.
“I probably have more laps at Sonoma than any other track by an order of magnitude!” laughed Nelson. “I used to keep my old 997.2 GT3 Cup at TRG and would test there all the time. I’ve raced at Sonoma in every configuration, except the IndyCar configuration (the shortened up Turn 11 is the only section I haven’t driven). In addition to the ‘normal configuration’, Pirelli GT3 Cup was the support race for NASCAR at Sonoma in 2015 (alternative Turn 4/Turn 7) and we supported the FIA World Touring Car weekend in 2013 (used the alternate Turn 8/9a like IndyCar). We’ve had a lot of good results and wins at Sonoma in Pirelli Cup including locking up the 2015 Platinum Championship, so I love this track. In fact, the only other event I’ve had time to do in 2017 was the Pirelli GT3 Cup event at Sonoma back in May; we finished second and first in the two races, so it was a good weekend.”
While the move to IMSA is his first, Nelson will be bringing the experience he has gained in Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA competition to his debut, as the series competes on many of the same racetracks on the West Coast and is an organization where drivers can learn the intricacies of the Porsche machine no matter what their competitive aspirations.
Nelson has a positive outlook on the weekend and is eager to see what he can do with his No. 32 Porsche 991 that will be supported by Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
“I’ve never raced in IMSA GT3 Cup before, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do,” offered Nelson. “Outside of this event at Sonoma, it’s a lot more challenging from a logistics perspective as a West Coaster, with almost every event on the IMSA schedule being a long-haul and requiring a greater time commitment. On the flip side, the competition has always looked strong with good depth in the field. I like a challenge – you either win or you learn, and I’m looking forward to having a fun weekend with a different group of competitors and hoping the experience at Sonoma pays off with a couple of good results. At the end of the day, it’s about having a great time.”
The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup doubleheader is held in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series event and can be viewed LIVE on IMSA.tv. Watch Nelson’s race events on Saturday at 1:00 PM PT and Sunday at 12:25 PM PT.