DANVILLE, Virginia (July 15, 2020) - John Allen Racing and team co-drivers John Allen and Kris Wilson made the most of their 2020 Pirelli GT4 America SprintX racing series debut this past weekend at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) where they scored back-to-back Am-class race wins Friday and Saturday in the No. 16 John Allen Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
The victories were the first professional wins for team principal and driver Allen and came just days after the official announcement of John Allen Racing's partnership with the University of Alabama College of Engineering for a new sports car racing internship program.
Allen is a 1979 UA College of Engineering graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. In 2018 he was named UA Distinguished Engineering Fellow in acknowledgement of his professional, military and philanthropic achievements.
Allen can now add race-winning driver in professional competition to his long list of career accomplishments after the convincing victories with Wilson in each of the one-hour long races at VIR.
In Friday's first SprintX victory, Wilson took the lead early in the 60-minute race in the No. 16 Mercedes-AMG GT4, which is prepared by Rearden Racing. Allen stepped in for the run to the finish and overcame a late spin to score a dramatic last-lap victory.
"This weekend's results really were not surprising," Allen said. "I had high expectations. In the Friday race, we even had some karma go our way. We had several races last year where karma didn't go our way, and we honestly felt we were due. Unfortunately, the lead car in class ran out of fuel on the last lap in Friday's race and I was able to get by right at the end. But we had to put ourselves in that position to be able to take advantage, and we did."
Wilson took over from Allen in Saturday's SprintX race and charged to the No. 16 team's second-straight victory and a strong eighth-place overall finish.
An active driver in motorsports since 2013, Allen saw a connection between sports car racing and the educational programs offered in the UA College of Engineering.
"The students at the University are just really excited on all of the automotive teams," Allen said. "They know what we are doing and they are very excited. It is already catching the eye of top motorsports teams and companies around the country."
Allen launched a pilot program with up to three interns at several races last year, but the full commitment to the UA College of Engineering and Pirelli GT4 America for this season and in the coming years is certain to bolster the growth.
"The internship program has already gained a lot of momentum with what we did last year," Allen said. "The COVID-19 pandemic has stuck a stick in our wheel spokes a little bit in regards to our momentum but we are working through that. Based on what we have done so far, this is going to evolve into a much greater program in the future."
Pirelli GT4 America returned to action last weekend at VIR for the first time in more than four months after an industry-wide pause in support of the fight against the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
The VIR race weekend was not open to race fans, and all competitors and support personnel authorized to attend complied with social distancing and personal protective equipment requirements and guidelines.
The Pirelli GT4 America series next returns to action at Sonoma Raceway, August 7 - 9.
"We are going to have a bunch of interns at Sonoma," Allen said. "As long as they let us in California we will have a strong group there. I don't want to say how many, because I don't want to jinx it, but hopefully our faculty advisor Dr. Paul Puzinauskas will be there with us too. The Alabama program is really off on a good foot."