GMG Racing’s James Sofronas is no stranger to success at the wheel of a Porsche, including four Championship Titles in World Challenge competition.
After also running lots of Porsches in many championships for customers over the years, GMG Racing made the leap last year to enter Porsche Carrera Cup North America with Kyle Washington and Todd Parriott at the wheel in the Rafa Racing Club Pro-Am class.
To finish off the season at Circuit of The Americas, the team brought in another Carrera Cup rookie who immediately made an impact with a pair of Pro-Am victories – none other than team boss James Sofronas!
The result from Sofronas was even more remarkable, considering this was his first full weekend back behind the wheel after suffering a back injury in Fanatec GT World Challenge testing at Road America in August.
“COTA was certainly a tough test for me,” Sofronas said.
“I wouldn’t say my doctors were too pleased with my decision to compete, but I did take into account that it was an F1 weekend, so there were additional safety measures in place.
“I had participated in a very heavy physical therapy program in the months before, and then my doctor finally blessed it.
“I was anxious to get back behind the wheel because that’s the first injury I’ve ever had that’s taken me out of competition.
“It’s pretty fierce out there in Carrera Cup because regardless of what class you’re in, you’ve got 40 identical cars on track. They all accelerate the same, they all stop the same – so racecraft obviously becomes a pretty important component of that.
“I was really picking my battles where I wanted to be aggressive because I got mixed up in some of the Pro category drivers at the end of race two at COTA and managed to pass a few of them because the guys behind me were coming and I wanted a buffer from P2 in my class.”
The fierce competition at the final two rounds of the 2023 championship produced plenty of battle scars, including a very unique bit of contact that left a mark in the rear of Sofronas’ Porsche.
“Early in the race, I got hit pretty hard in the rear by Jake Pedersen (unintentional). It was funny in hindsight as I know him well from other competitions in Porsches and I know his dad as well,” said Sofronas.
“I had a bad start and was making my way back through the field. The next thing I know, I get walloped in turn 19. Luckily, I had the steering wheel mostly straight. If I had some steering angle into it, I would have been spun around 360 degrees. But it was a pretty good hit, and luckily, the Porsche is strong, the seat’s good, and the belts were great.
“It kind of shook me a little because my back was still a little sensitive. So, I managed to catch it and stay on track. I lost a bunch of spots but then managed to get those back.
“After pulling into victory lane, we noticed that Jake’s headlight assembly was still wedged firmly in the rear bumper of my car. I’ve certainly never seen anything like that before.
“Jake and I had a good laugh about it, and he apologized. I knew it wasn’t intentional, and he wasn’t trying to donate some spare parts to our team.”
Having taken GMG to victory lane in Carrera Cup competition in its first season in the championship, Sofronas is keen to return – not only with him behind the wheel but with GMG customers as well.
“Carrera Cup has a storied history as one of the highest-level single-make series in motorsports, and for us being a long committed partner with Porsche – it makes perfect sense for us to be here,” he said.
“I’ve been racing Porsches professionally for nearly 20 years, and Carrera Cup is the ultimate competition where the cars are identical, minimal setup changes can be made, and it’s flat-out sprint racing all the way.
“There’s no saving the car, the tires, or anything – it’s just flat out, wheel to wheel, cutthroat racing, which I personally like, and our like clients that love that type of platform too.
“Porsche does such a great job regulating the cars, making sure they’re identical and the specs and the regulations are very tight. So, it really comes down to driver skill at that point.
“The fact the series has multiple classes for the different age brackets is also really appealing. Some of the older guys are just not going to be able to run with “the kids,” so it’s really nice they get the opportunity to compete against guys in their age bracket.”
GMG Racing is headquartered in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, but the team has exciting plans for the future with a new Motorsport facility based at The Thermal Club – 130 miles inland from Los Angeles near Palm Springs and the Joshua Tree National Park.
“We’re very excited about the new shop. The Thermal Club is really the most prestigious, elegant motorsport facility in the world,” Sofronas said.
“The new facility is more than 28,000 square feet and can house up to 40 race cars. We’ll have access to the pit lane 25 seconds after pulling out of our garage.”