TUSCALOOSA, Alabama - After much thought and consideration, John Allen racing officials have decided to end early the team's campaign in this year's Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Championship and immediately shift focus to planning and preparation for the 2021 season.
"This decision comes in the wake of hard crash in the Sunday race at Road America just a few short weeks ago," said team principal and driver John Allen. "It was a bell ringer for sure. Our #16 Mercedes-AMG GT4 sustained significant damage, the repairs are ongoing, but the crash damage is only temporary. We are not giving up. We are just warming up. We are now focusing on the 2021 season to ensure we are the team to beat."
The Road America incident came just a day after Allen and co-driver Kris Wilson scored their fourth Pirelli GT4 SprintX Am-class victory of the season on the 4-mile Elkhart Lake circuit on Saturday.
Despite the unplanned early end, the No. 16 John Allen Racing team and drivers put together a solid record of six podium finishes in nine races contested this season, including the four wins at Road America, Sonoma Raceway and a pair of victories at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR).
"We proved that we were competitive in every race," Allen said. "Kris Wilson - aka 'Wild Willy Wilson' - was amazing and couldn't have been a better co-driver, coach and mentor."
The immediate focus on 2021 includes a reinforced commitment to the team's University of Alabama College of Engineering internship program. Allen is a 1979 University of Alabama College of Engineering graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.
In support of his alma mater, Allen - who in 2018 was named a UA Distinguished Engineering Fellow - started the UA College of Engineering sports car racing internship program. Allen had the vision for an engineering-based internship program in the high-tech world of modern-day sports car competition ever since he began racing in 2013.
"We want to give our assurances to the students we support at the University of Alabama," Allen said. "COVID-19 presented some unforeseen challenges this season, but our internship program for 'Bama Engineering students still gained some significant momentum and we will grow that success in 2021."
John Allen Racing competes with the support of the University of Alabama College of Engineering, Mercedes-Bens of Tuscaloosa, Long Game Financial, Dr. Sanjay Janata, Capital Value Advisors (CVA), Wine Country Motorsports, Chillout Systems and Pocono Outdoor.
"For every wave, there is a trough that is followed by a crest," Allen said. "We are in a momentary trough right now, but John Allen Racing, like the tide, will rise again. Roll Tide Roll!"
- Among the UA College of Engineering interns working with John Allen Racing this year is Blake Swafford (pictured above at right), a 20-year-old Mechanical Engineering Major. The Dallas, Georgia native was part of the John Allen Racing crew at Sonoma and Road America. "For a guy who has always loved cars, this is incredible, said Swafford, who is the Team Manager for the UA Baja SAE team. "Not only is it cool, but it's really important. I'd be working trying to take a bolt out that was designed by somebody that's never touched a car. All the engineers over and over tell us that this hands-on stuff is key, it's how you learn, this is how you become a good engineer. I have learned a ton and it's really going to help me in my design work going forward."
- Swafford has gained not only invaluable experience but also the respect of his teammates. "Blake dives right in," said Wilson (pictured above at left). "He had grease from head to toe all over him and stayed up most of Saturday night at Road America helping our teammates put a motor in their car. Not only is he getting the best education and engineering curriculum from UA but real hands on experience at the track too."