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WNY Auto Racing: Lux will put his endurance to the test in Le Mans

When Williamsville resident Eric Lux was 13 years old he rode around the famed Circuit de la Sarth road course in Le Mans, France, in a rental car driven by his parents. At that moment he could only dream about competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, considered the world’s most prestigious annual sports car endurance racing event.

Now 25, Lux will make his dream come true when he competes later this month in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

He will race in the LMP2 class driving for the United Kingdom-based Greaves Motorsport, working with team manager Jacob Greaves as well as team co-drivers Alexander Rossi and Tom Kimber-Smith. The team will drive the No. 41 Zytek Z11SN Nissan entry. Rossi is replacing regular co-driver Christian Zugel, who cannot compete at Le Mans due to business commitments.

A team of engineers, technicians and data analysts from Caterham Motorsport will be assisting the Greaves operation at Le Mans. Following a week of inspections, practice and qualifying beginning June 16, the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be contested June 22-23 on the 8.469-mile French circuit. Lux departs for France this week.

Lux will also be displaying his pride for his hometown area while at Le Mans. He recently had his helmet repainted to include the insignia of a red buffalo painted on the back.

“I remember when I was 13, riding in that car and I told my parents that someday I dreamed of racing at Le Mans,” recalled Lux. “I had already been racing Go-Karts since I was 5 and certainly hoped one day to race at Le Mans. Now I will.”

While this will be Lux’s first driving venture at Le Mans, he could have done so in previous years.

“I’ve had the opportunity to race at Le Mans on at least six opportunities but turned them down,” he said. “It is such an intense effort that you put into this during the three weeks that you are in France and I didn’t want to go unless I felt that I had an honest chance of winning there.

“You need the proper mix of drivers, engineers, crew members and all those stars must be aligned to have a shot there. I feel that the Greaves team has everything aligned to give us a good chance. When I turned down the previous opportunities to race at Le Mans it was gut-wrenching to turn them down at the time but looking back at it now, I know that it was the right decision and now it is time.”

After technical inspections June 16, qualifying will take place June 19 and 20. The race will get the green flag June 22. A pre-event test day will take place this Sunday.

Lux is busy traveling the globe this season in search of sports car racing success. In addition to his activity with Greaves in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is part of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), he also is racing an entry for DragonSpeed Racing, competing in the GT class representing Audi North America.

The Dragon operation is run by owner-driver Elton Julian. Lux finished fifth in class with Dragon earlier this year in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai in January as well as 15th in class in February in Australia in the Bathurst 12 Hours. With Greaves, Lux placed third in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in the LMP2 class in March.

Lux’s association with the DragonSpeed team led directly to his opportunity with Greaves at Le Mans.

“Elton and I are both driving coaches and we’ve worked with Christian Zugel, who has a close connection with Greaves Motorsport. Christian thought that I would like to be involved with Greaves. So I’m doing a partial schedule this year with both Greaves and Dragon.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be Lux’s 10th 24-hour race of his career.

Lux says that he has complete trust in himself and his teammates to do well at Le Mans.

“Tom, Alexander and I are quite capable of running comparable lap times and speeds when it is our turns to be in the car,” Lux said. “While I am in France, while I will certainly be very busy with the racing and the team, I plan on taking the time to see some sights while I’m there.

“Although my parents can’t make it, I know they will be watching it on television on Speed. My fiancee,” Amanda Farrell, “and some cousins and friends are coming over to France for the event so it should be a fun experience for all. Hopefully I can win.”

Unfortunately, due to a tight schedule and his team responsibilities, Lux will be unable to compete June 30 in the Grand American Road Racing Association (Grand-Am) Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

He looks to return to The Glen event perhaps in future years.

Pit stops

• A drag racing team could not have a much better weekend than Mike Janis Racing Inc. After signing new sponsor Valvoline Oil this past week, Mike Janis Sr., of Lancaster, went to Englishtown, N.J., and was the Pro Modified class winner of the Toyota NHRA Summernationals this past Sunday.

It was the first career NHRA Pro Modified victory for Janis. Janis was quicker off the starting line in besting Troy Coughlin with a time of 6.035 seconds at 240.51 mph down the ¼-mile strip.

Janis needed the starting line advantage as Coughlin ran 6.06 at 244.12.

• Defending Patriot Sprint Tour champion Scott Kreutter of Alden followed up his win at Erie Speedway over Memorial Day Weekend with a second place run this past Saturday at Mercer Raceway Park in Mercer, Pa. Kreutter is the defending PST American Series champion.