Pirelli GT4 America
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana
October 14-15, 2021
With the final double-header of the season upon them, The Racing to End Alzheimer’s/BimmerWorld team descended upon the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway, intent on ending the series on a high note.
For the team, and indeed for all of us who love racing, this legendary track holds particular significance. Some of motorsports’ most historic races have taken place here, and there’s no better way to honor that tradition than to tear across Indy’s asphalt and its historic yard of bricks in hot pursuit of a perfect lap, a brilliant pass, a podium finish.
Fast Starts, Bad Breaks
During the qualifying lap for race one, driver James Clay was in peak form. He put in a stunning lap time and was able to secure the #1 spot in class, 4th overall on the grid. The prime positioning meant that Clay would start Thursday ahead of the pack, giving the #36 BMW M4 GT4 a serious chance at the podium.
At the start of race 1, positioning paid off, and Clay pounced on the entry into turn 7 and picked up 2 spots, settling into a promising 2nd on the grid. Still holding strong halfway into the hour-long race, Clay pulled into the pits and handed off the car to Nick Galante.
A slow pit exit put Galante back onto the track right in front of the 3rd place car – and into an immediate and intense battle for position. At the same time, a familiar mechanical problem returned to haunt the #36 BMW. The rear of the car loosened and began to slip from what the team would later discover was a broken sway bar. Despite those hurdles, Galante was able to fight his way to a 7th place finish.
A Game of Seconds
After heroic overnight efforts by the crew to find and fix the car’s mechanical problems, Galante was set to start race 2 on Friday in the 11th position. From the first moments of the final race of the season, the veteran driver could feel the significant improvement in the car’s handling. Taking advantage, he laid down solid laps in the crowded field to put him in 10th at the halfway point of the race.
James Clay emerged from the pits to continue his scorching weekend. After an impressive hunt through the field, Clay found himself gaining on the third-place car at over three seconds per lap with only 10 minutes left in the race. Despite his best efforts, Clay’s car finished a mere second shy of a 3rd place podium finish. An edge-of-your-seat heartbreaker to wrap up an edge-of-your-seat kind of season.