New Era for Blackdog Racing Starts at Sonoma

New Era for Blackdog Racing Starts at Sonoma

New season. New series. New car.

That’s the theme for Blackdog Racing as it prepares to open its 2024 racing program in one of SRO Motorsports America’s toughest tests – Pirelli GT4 America. Drivers Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples are set to team in a pair of 60-minute, two-driver races this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

Blackdog Racing has more GT4 championships (five) and race wins (42) than any entrant in the championship with cars from Chevrolet and McLaren. Now begins a new program with Nissan and the No. 9 Nissan Z NISMO GT4, which the team sampled for the first time two weeks ago at Circuit of The Americas.

There isn’t a much better spot for Blackdog to roll out a new program than the 12-turn, 2.51-mile Sonoma road course. Seven of the team’s 42 wins in SRO America/World Challenge competition have come at the northern California venue, including five for Cooper in Blackdog machinery (he has three additional Sonoma wins) and a 2017 win for Gaples plus eight additional top-five finishes including an overall runner-up GT finish in 2005.

Blackdog Racing and the No. 9 Nissan Z NISMO GT4 will race in the first of two Pirelli GT4 America races at Sonoma at 4:50 p.m. PT on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s second race at 10:55 a.m. PT. Live coverage of both races plus timing & scoring will be available at and SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.

MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: “I’m ready for another season with the Blackdog Racing guys. So far, our Nissan feels like a good car. Everything on it seems well-done and well-designed. We’ve been able to get a good feel for the car with some early testing at COTA, and we need more time with it to see what it likes. But it seems like a decent package right out of the box. We did some spring changes and some swaybar adjustments to gain some understanding there. This series is going to be  tough, especially with 30-plus cars. With so many cars and a driver change in the middle of the race it’s going to be a little different than what Tony did last year. This series will take some getting used to, but I’m confident he’ll be up to speed pretty quickly. The main thing is that the points for Sonoma are the same as the points for Indianapolis at the end of the year. So a clean weekend would be a good start for us.”

TONY GAPLES, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: “This should be a very interesting weekend. We have a new car with the Nissan, which I’m still learning a lot about. The test at COTA was helpful to get familiar with the car, the controls and how we can adjust it. There are still a lot of unknowns for us heading to Sonoma, but I’m not too concerned. Yes we want to contend and win races, but it’s a long year and we need to get off to a good start more than anything. I think we have the team and driver lineup to do it. I’m excited to see what this weekend has in store.”

RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG RACING: “I’d say our first test with the Nissan at COTA was pretty positive. We learned a lot on what directions we can go with certain adjustments and some general car prep for the first race at Sonoma. The tech support from Nissan has been good. There are a lot of unknowns for us going into this new championship with a new car, but we have a talented group and two experienced drivers in Tony and Michael. We’re excited for this new challenge.”