Launching any business as a pandemic is taking hold across the world is a challenge; that’s especially true of a racing series. That’s the situation Rob Morgan found himself in when he launched GT Celebration in 2020. Two years later, though, the series for GT3 cars that no longer have a home in IMSA, SRO or elsewhere, along with GT4 and LMP3 cars, is hitting its stride by taking control of its own events, attracting more entries and even getting the interest of manufacturers.
“The biggest thing is we’re going out on our own this year,” explains Morgan. “The last few years, we’ve rented track time from Competent Motorsports; now we’re doing a lot of our own events. So we control the weekend and set the schedule, which is exciting for us and we can better take care of our customers. But also we’re going to do some races with USAC and the Porsche Sprint Challenge, so I’m really excited about that, to try to build a build a relationship. They’re going to come out and do some West Coast races with us and we’re going to go do some East Coast races with them.”
GT Celebration will have three separate championships for 2022 — East Coast, West Coast and Overall. West Coast events include the opener at Sonoma Raceway the first weekend in March, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Utah Motorsports Campus. The East Coast races will be held at Road Atlanta (with Formula Drift), Virginia International Raceway and Road America. The season finale at Circuit of The Americas will be for both East and West Coast.
In addition to the events with Formula Drift and Porsche Sprint Challenge, GT Celebration will also host Masters Historic Racing, including Endurance Legends and Formula 1, Ultimate Track Days and, at the COTA finale, the Spec MX-5 Challenge championship event.
“I feel like this year is is really going to be our takeoff year. It’s looking really good not only for the West Coast events, but East Coast races as well,” says Morgan. “Our Laguna Seca event, which is the second event on April 1-3, is going to be amazing. It includes Masters Endurance Legends, Masters F1, Porsche Sprint Challenge and Ultimate Track Days. It’s gonna be quite a motorsports event.”
GT Celebration includes four classes: GT3 Red for newer GT3 cars, such as 991 Porsche 911 GT3Rs or second-generation Audi R8s, but can also incorporate GT2 cars such as the KTM X-Bow GTX; GT3 Yellow for first-generation GT3 cars such as a BMW Z4 GT3 or Lamborghini Gallardo as well as cars from the one-make series such as Lamborghini Super Trofeo or Ferrari Challenge; GT4, which has seen entries such as the McLaren 570S, Porsche Cayman MR CS, BMW M4 GT4 and Audi R8 GT4; and LMP3.
Prior to the creation of GT Celebration, people with those cars had the choice of historic events, track days or marque clubs to play with them. GT Celebration was created to give them a place to race with similar cars in races set up so that they’re very much like where the cars would have raced before, but in a sprint format.
“We actually have teams and drivers buying cars specifically to run in our series, which I find very, very encouraging for sure,” says GT Celebration technical director Nick Lester. “There are at least three or four teams out there that have now gone out and purchased cars specifically to race with us, which I like a lot. And not only buying cars for our series, but switching brands to be more competitive.”
Michael Kopper of Chicago Performance and Tuning put the first X-Bow GTX in competition in North America when he entered GT Celebration’s Road America round last year. That got the notice of KTM, and this year the Austrian company, which also builds a GT4 version of the X-Bow, is providing the series with an X-Bow pace car. Not only that, but the company wants to reward the series champions with a visit to the factory and some lapping time in the X-Bow GT4 around the Red Bull Ring.
“That’s an incredible thing that they’re willing to offer. I’m super excited to have that relationship,” Morgan says.
The 2022 GT Celebration season kicks off at Sonoma Raceway on March 4-6 with a strong entry that not only includes a wide variety of cars, but a list of accomplished drivers, several of whom have recently seen competition in IMSA and SRO. After that the series travels to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in April before its first East Coast event, May 5-7 at Road Atlanta. For more information, visit www.gtcelebration.com.