Thursday, January 24, 2013

Interview with Fabryce Kutyba part 1: The roots of GMG Racing


By Tarek Ramchani

GMG Racing is the only Audi team fielding the Audi R8 LMS in the Pirelli World Challenge series in North America. The team have been loyal to Audi and Porsche for a very long time. We were pleased to have an interview with Fabryce Kutyba, vice president of GMG Racing. A very interesting Q/A about the history of the team, the team's plans for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge season, the future of North American sportscar racing and more. Here is part one, The roots of GMG Racing and how it all started at the Global Motorsport Group.

GMG Racing has been around for many years. How did GMG Racing come about?

GMG is sort of a Cinderella story , My business partner ( James Sofronas) and I met by chance back in 1997, believe it or not it was mostly due in part to the BMW CCA and a classified ad he placed in the magazine. He recently moved to California from back east and placed an ad selling some wheels off of his M3. I mis-read the advert and called him trying to sell him some wheels off of a customer’s M3 lightweight which I was preparing for track use. At this time I had a small BMW service and performance shop with my dad in Orange County Ca. I told James I was selling some wheels off the lightweight, he inquired what I was doing with the car, a short conversation later he came down to the shop and offered driver coaching for my customer who wanted to get started in racing. James had already begun his racing career back east on a pro level.

I think a lot of our friendship and seeing eye to eye was rooted around the fact that we lived in the same area back east. He being from NY and myself from NJ. It was good timing for everyone. Tragically my dad passed away that summer about 5 months after I met James.

That was tough for me but the race car was a place for me to focus my energy. That fall my clients son decided that he no longer wanted to race the car so he made us a once in a life time offer.
Much like a race horse a race car isn't worth much if it’s not raced and it doesn’t finish well. So he offered us an opportunity to race the car if we maintained it and took care of it.. So we did and over the course of the next 2 years we accumulated over 20 overall wins and 0 DNF's with the M3. We raced that car in the BMW CCA and NASA Pro Series along with various Porsche Owners Club Races on the west coast. We even managed to run the car at a than SpeedVision World Challenge race @ Pikes Peak Colorado Raceway. I have to admit that was an eye opener for me, we were in so far over our heads at this point, showing up to a pro race with a Open trailer and a tool box where other teams had been racing in the series for years and had semi's with full crews. Luck had it we even finished in the top 15 that weekend.

Sometime in 2000 we decided to put a name to our racing efforts having run them under my old shops name up until this point. So we came up with the name (GMG)one afternoon at James's house which was also our base of operations running the BMW since I closed the shop I had with my dad at this point. We wanted a name that would not limit us to the brand of car we would race or series where which we would compete in this the name Global Motorsports Group.

At this point I went to work for Ferrari and James maintained his corporate job, we decided to build a car and enter the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) and built a BMW E36 Touring car with very limited budget and resources. We entered the car in the series and won 6 out of the 8 races overall winning the championship at the final race in Laguna Seca. We than sold that car to a client who raced it in the same series and with our support he won the championship the following year.

2002-2003 would find me working for a team that ran Audi B5 S4's and A4's in Grand Am (Intrax) and James was racing a BMW in World Challenge,we continued to race in the BMW CCA series on weekends so I found myself doing double duty on weekends. GMG was very small and still in its infancy operating out of a 1200 sq ft shop with 2 BMW's. I later went to work for Bentley right around the time the Continental GT was debuting in the USA. In late 2004 I made the decision to leave Bentley and take the plunge full time into GMG we found a shop in Santa Ana around 4000 sqft the BMW was now out and James invested in a Porsche 996 GT3 Cup that was built to World Challenge GT specifications this was a monumental risk on his part. We shifted from BMW and decided to focus on bringing race proven performance to road car customers our business model was built around Porsche /Audi vehicles and our business exploded because we were doing something other shops in the area weren't. We were taking the experience we learned in racing and applying it to customer cars that were dual purpose.

It was literally race on Sunday and sell on Monday for us. We also started to develop parts on the race car which we refined for road car use, this would become what is now the GMG World Challenge line of performance parts for Porsche and Audi vehicles. At this time World Challenge was using the Toyo R888 as the spec tire so the data we learned on the track we could directly translate to road cars as many of our customers used that same tire for weekend track days. We raced as much as we could in World Challenge and Porsche Owners Club and PCA. We even surprised a lot of the more established teams. We were running our race program out of a 28 foot single car trailer and towing it around with a pick up all over the U.S. 1 tech in the shop, 1 guy driving the car and our car chief was actually working for a ALMS team and he would come over and help with the car in between sessions. Todd has now been with us since about 2006 full time running the race program as crew chief. Our epic race that put GMG on the map had to be the World Challenge race @ Lime Rock where James out raced 2 factory backed Porsche drivers running cup car ( Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell) finishing in 3rd and on the podium right behind the 2 factory Cadillac entries.. This race was literally a 60 minute commercial on GMG because veteran announcers were so impressed with our performance and James's driving. Our relationship started to develop with Porsche Motorsport and our street business took off, we out grew our 4000 sqft facility in a matter of 18 months.

In 2007 we ended up in our present facility which is located directly across the street from Porsche Motorsport North America 15,000 sqft was a huge undertaking our company was growing we were racing Porsche's in World Challenge , IMSA GT3 Cup and Pirelli Drivers Cup as well as Club Racing. We were building a lot of dual purpose road cars and our parts were being recognized globally as we were selling parts to Porsche owners and teams globally.

In 2009 GMG was the team that secured the Manufactures Championship for Porsche in World Challenge winning the most races for Porsche. As the economy took a dip in the states our business continued to grow both on the street side and the racing side. Our product offerings also grew for both Porsche and Audi cars.
Our goal was simple build the highest quality products that were proven in motorsport and refined for the street

In late 2011 we were at the Rennsport Reunion in Monterey and one of our customers who was running a Porsche RSR and I were talking.. I mentioned he should get a R8 race car.. He said well if something comes up let me know.. Out of sight out of mind I really didn’t think we would ever have an opportunity to get a R8 LMS, a few months passed and I was notified that a car was in fact available in Germany and it wasn’t just a car from a no name team but from the Factory Audi Sport backed Phoenix Racing, needless to say the car was flawless and in late 2011 the first R8 LMS GT3 R16 showed up in North America and was now at GMG. We tested the car and found the performance to be very impressive and that started the ball rolling with the Audi program. After a relationship was established with Audi the second Phoenix car was acquired in spring of 2012. As the relationship grew with Audi Sport Customer racing a 3rd Factory car was offered to James and he purchased it. Most recently we acquired a 4th LMS GT3 R16 which we will also campaign in 2013. With 4 total cars that makes a very strong contingent from GMG in racing the R8 LMS in the USA.
It’s important to note that with the addition of the Audi Sport Customer racing program at GMG we have now grown from a 15,000 sqft to a 30,000 sqft state of the art facility housing all aspects of race support, performance tuning, service, fabrication, 4wd dyno test cell, race car sales and global parts distribution under one roof.

I am probably missing a few highlights over the years but that’s a pretty good recap of our history.

Editor's note: A very special thanks to Mr Fabryce Kutyba and all GMG Racing team members. Part 2 about GMG Racing's plans for 2013 to follow.