WATKINS GLEN - Eric Lux is hoping to enjoy a charmed and victorious day Sunday with a win in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen sports car endurance classic here at Watkins Glen International. Lux, a Williamsville native, has spent the better part of the last several years competing on circuits throughout the world but considers The Glen his home track.
The Sahlen's event is part of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. Four classes of sports cars will be in the race including the Daytona Prototype International (DPI), LMP2, GTLM and GTD.
Lux, 31, who now resides in Clarence, will take turns exchanging driver stints during the race with two co-drivers, fellow American Matthew McMurry and France's Gabriel Aubry in the LMP2 category in the No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA entry.
On Saturday afternoon, in qualifying for Sunday's Sahlen's race, Aubry claimed the pole position for the team in the LMP2 class. By rule, Aubry must start the car in Sunday's race. Lux and McMurry will take individual turns behind the wheel later in the race.
Lux was ecstatic Saturday as he watched Aubry soar to the pole.
"It was impressive what Gabriel did today," Lux said. "It's great to have him as part of our trio. The driver who qualifies the car has to start the race. From there I'll probably get in the car next or Matt will get in next. We're still deciding that. We'll take a look at data with the engineers and figure out what's best for our program."
"I'm getting along really good with Eric," Aubry said. "I only met him yesterday. He's a really great guy."
Much of the funding for the team's racing effort this weekend is being provided by Lux and his Buffalo-based family business Rembrandt Charms.
Lux has raced on occasion this season for PR1 Mathiasen, scoring a LMP2 class victory at Mid-Ohio May 5, co-driving with McMurry.
"Bobby Oergel is the team owner," Lux said. "I've known Bobby for the better part of 12 years. We've raced hard against each other back in the LMP category when it was in the American Le Mans Series and fought him for the championship in 2011. Bobby has a great program with a car that can go for a win.
"Funding for the team from Rembrandt Charms was part of the negotiation with Bobby's team in lieu of any kind of prize money. It gives our company some branding on the car."
Oergel, of Fresno, Calf., is pleased with Lux's performance thus far.
"Going back a few years, Eric and I have been trying to put this deal together for quite some time with partnerships and sponsors," Oergel said. "It has finally come to fruition and his first race with us at Mid-Ohio we were able to win it so that was pretty awesome. Hopefully we'll do the same here."
Lux recounted his racing career.
"I've been racing 15 years in the professional ranks now going back to 2004 since I stepped into cars and going back before that in the Go-Karts," Lux said. "The last time I was on the podium here in the Sahlen's Six Hours was 2009 in GT. Then I went into some other series, some of those abroad and some sprint series as well. So I've been around in different types of sports car racing and even a little NASCAR in 2008. My background has been in sports cars whether it's GT or the prototypes.
"I love coming to my home track, just two hours away from Buffalo. It's one of the best circuits in the world so it's kind of a hidden gem. The IMSA WeatherTech series puts on great racing here as well. We feel really good about this race.
Other Sahlen's Qualifying
In other results Saturday, Oliver Jarvis claimed the pole for Sunday's race in the top-ranked DPI category. He will pilot the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPI with co-drivers Tristian Nunez and Timo Bernhard.
Antonio Garcia was best in GTLM in his No. 3 Team Corvette C7.R he will share with Jan Magnussen. Trent Hindman was quickest in the GTD class. Hindman will co-drive the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing AutoNation Acura NSX GT3 entry with Mario Farnbacher and Justin Marks.
Going for 100
The two car GTLM effort of Team Corvette Racing is one of the fan favorites in the IMSA Paddock. Garcia of Spain and Magnussen of Denmark drive the No. 3 entry while American Tom Milner and Great Britain's Oliver Gavin handle the driving chores in the No. 4 machine. Should either car score a win Sunday it will be the 100th for Team Corvette in IMSA competition.
They are off to a great start with Garcia earning the GTLM pole for Sunday's race, recording a best lap of 1 minute, 40.799 seconds on The Glen's 3.4 mile course. The pole run was a rebound effort of sorts after the team suffered an engine failure in Friday's first practice session.
"Finally we got something good and got it turned around for tomorrow's race," Garcia said. "It was very tough to lose the whole first practice but it's always a team effort and I'm very happy with how the car behaved today and I hope this is a good start for tomorrow."
Garcia and Magnussen are going for their third straight Sahlen's six hour GTLM podium finish at The Glen, placing third in 2017 and second a year ago. The pair won this event in 2014.
"We always like this race track," Garcia said. "While we didn't win here most recently at least the last two years we were in the fight for it. Our Corvette always seems good here. I've been driving with Jan almost every single race I've ever done with Corvette. We've won two championships in a row together (2017, 2018) so we just need to bring it on the way we know how and see what Sunday brings."
Milner qualified the No. 4 entry third in GTLM for Sunday's race.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of business for the Buffalo-based Sahlen's Packing Company. To help commemorate this milestone, Joe L. Sahlen, the son of Sahlen's president and six hour sponsor Joe Sahlen, rode a custom motorcycle around The Glen's fabled road course during the weekend.
""That was pretty fun," Joe L. Sahlen said of the ride. "I'd like to do it in something faster. Not a lot of people get to do this and its pretty cool. We're doing a little photo opportunity and promotion for the bike. It's symbolizes 150 years of Sahlen's as a company.
"We got the bike from Orange County Choppers. It was on television on American Chopper on Discovery Channel. I race in sports cars here when Champ Car is here in my Mazda RX-7. I've been doing that the last three or four years. This was the first time here on two wheels."