Veteran racer Tony Gaples sore but okay after violent crash Sunday in Pirelli World Challenge GTS Round 18 Finale
Long-time PWC regular Gaples scored first GTS class win in 186 starts
SONOMA, Calif. – Veteran driver Tony Gaples of Libertyville, Ill., was checked out and released Sunday evening at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., following a violent crash at Sonoma Raceway Sunday in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Round 18 finale.
Gaples, the team principal of the Blackdog Speed Shop racing operation, suffered a huge impact in his No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R sports car with the Sonoma Raceway turn 8 concrete barrier on lap 19 as he battled for the lead in the GTS Am division Sunday in the scheduled 50-minute season-ending event.
Gaples, 51, was able to walk from his racing machine and was checked out at the Sonoma Raceway medical center. He was advised to travel in the team’s passenger vehicle to Memorial Hospital for various tests followed the spectacular incident.
Following a variety of tests by the hospital physicians, Gaples was released and actually attended the Pirelli World Challenge season-end awards banquet (after a quick trip to In-N-Out burger) where he celebrated with his team in winning the GTS drivers’ championship by teammate Lawson Aschenbach, the GTS Manufacturers’ title for Chevrolet and the GTS Team crown (see attached photo). In addition, the Blackdog Speed Shop squad was named “Crew of the Year” by its fellow competitors.
To wrap-up the sensational weekend for Blackdog Speed Shop, Gaples was awarded GTS Am class win after he was in the lead on lap 18 as the race was red and checkered-flagged and all scoring was reverted back one lap from the time of the turn 8 incident.
It was Gaples’s first GTS class victory in 186 Pirelli World Challenge starts.
“That was a big impact, probably the hardest I’ve ever had in racing,” said Gaples following Sunday’s PWC banquet. “Fortunately, none of my injuries were serious – just a lot of soreness and bruises. It could have been worse but you see how strong of a car the Camaro GT4.R is. It was a lot to go through for my first win. Hopefully the second comes a little easier…”
“After I finished at the hospital, it was great to get to be with the team for a little bit at the banquet. We achieved a lot this year in a season full of challenges and a new car. To do all this in Year One with the Camaro GT4.R is unbelievable. It was hard to comprehend all we achieved. Seeing all our trophies together last night was incredible… it didn’t seem real. What was even more gratifying was being with all the people from our Blackdog team, Chevy and Pratt & Miller. It’s about the people, and we have the best group in the paddock.”
Gaples finished second in the final GTS Am class points to champion George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz.