The Muscle Milk 2011 Aston-Martin in action at Long Beach - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) can look forward to working with Muscle Mil Pickett Racing for the upcoming season - and beyond - as the team has signed a deal with Honda Performance Development (HPD) to race the HPD ARX-03a prototype as it vies for the overall and LM P1 championship in 2012.
The agreement marks a multi-faceted and long-term relationship between CytoSport, team owner Greg Pickett's health and nutrition company, makers of Muscle Milk, and American Honda. This pact includes Muscle Milk's title sponsorship of the Honda factory motocross team now known as Team Honda Muscle Milk.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing enters its third consecutive season of ALMS prototype competition - with its third different prototype entry. The team ran a Porsche LM P2 car in 2010, raced an Aston-Martin LM P1 car in 2011 and now aligns with HPD for 2012. The team continues with the support of long-time partner Michelin as its tire supplier and celebrates the return of German drivers Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr.
"We're very proud to announce this deal with HPD as we feel confident that their car and engine package - along with our tire partner Michelin - offer us the best combination to achieve our ultimate goal of 2012, which is to win the LM P1 championship," Pickett noted.
"Additionally, from a company and brand perspective, to begin a relationship with the iconic brand that is Honda, and to be involved in two out of three of its major U.S. motorsports programs is fantastic," he said. "I couldn't be more appreciative.
"These multi-faceted agreements allow us to envision some exciting and unique cross-promotional opportunities between Team Honda Muscle Milk's motocross team and our ALMS program. This will allow us to continue promoting and building our Muscle Milk brand, while giving back to our fans, who have shown such great support throughout the years," Pickett acknowledged.
Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president noted, "We are really excited to work with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. Having competed against them in the past, we are well aware of their strong potential to win on any given race weekend. We look forward to helping the team achieve their dream of winning the ALMS LM P1 championship in the coming year."
Graf and Luhr were runners-up in the ALMS LM P1 and overall standings in 2011, with a class-leading four victories. They've got a single-minded goal for the coming season: taking home top honors.
This coming year will be Graf's fifth with the team in ALMS and eighth in the sports car series; he finished second the past two seasons. "I'm very thrilled about our new program. The ARX-03a, powered by HPD's proven 3.4-liter LM-V8 engine should be the right package to achieve our goal, which is to win the ALMS championship," Graf said. The HPD prototype is a state of the art LM P1 built with the latest technology and resources. Every year our team gets stronger and stronger, and our four race wins last season have proven that."
Luhr, a four-time series champion sits third overall in all-time ALMS wins with 35 victories. "I'm happy to be back with the team and to once again work with Klaus. It is great to be on board for the full ALMS season. Entering the season with a new car is always something special, and I can't wait to be in the car for the first time at the Sebring Winter Test in February," he said.
The team expects delivery of its HPD ARX-03a in mid-January and plans to be on track for its first outing at the ALMS Winter Test, February 8-9 at Sebring International Raceway. Pickett Racing continues its growth and expansion plans with the opening of a Midwest office and shop located at the Mark One Composites facility in Indianapolis, IN.
The team's head engineering department, public relations and purchasing will be located at the new, expanded workspace while the remainder of the crew, including returning LM P1 crew chief and two-time Mechanic of the Year award recipient Mike Seymour, continues to work at the company's Benicia, CA headquarters. The California crew joins the Midwest group during the heart of the season, when most races take place in the Midwest and on the East Coast of the USA.
In addition to its assault on the ALMS LM P1 crown, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has expanded into the LM PC class with an entry for drivers Mike Guasch and Memo Gidley in 2012.
© 2011 Anne Proffit