Newly named McLaren Automotive Factory Driver returns to GT4
LINCOLNSHIRE, Illinois – Blackdog Speed Shop has welcomed back Michael Cooper to its driving roster for the 2019 racing season as the team prepares for its first season with the McLaren 570S GT4.
Cooper will team with Tony Gaples in the pair of Blackdog Speed Shop McLarens for the Pirelli GT4 Americas Sprint Championship, part of the Blancpain GT World Challenge of Americas. The campaign comes with an extra bonus: it will be Cooper’s first year as an official McLaren Automotive Factory Driver.
He and Gaples will open the season at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in early March.
Cooper last raced in a full season for Blackdog Speed Shop in 2015, a year that ended with four victories and the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Driver Championship. He partnered with Gaples in Blackdog’s 2018 GTS SprintX campaign, highlighted by a third-place finish at Circuit of The Americas and top-five runs together at VIR and Portland.
In 2017, Cooper won three times for Cadillac in GT and shared the GT SprintX Driver title with Jordan Taylor. He also won the 2012 World Challenge Touring Car Driver Championship and has 19 series victories since 2012.
Owning to strict GT4 regulations, the McLaren 570S GT4 shares much with the road-going McLaren 570S Coupe. Among the common features is an identical carbon chassis, a mid-mounted 3.8L twin-turbo V8 motor and seven-speed paddle-shift transmission.
The Pirelli GT4 America championship begins March 8-10 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 10 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “It’s great to be back full-time with Tony, Ray (Sorenson, team manager) and everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop. Running SprintX last year was a nice experience to get back in the team and this year’s full championship will be even better.
“It’s going to be exciting racing the McLaren 570S GT4 this year. We’re all looking forward to seeing how we stack up against the rest of the GT4 field. There are great drivers and great manufacturers throughout the category, so we know it’ll be a tough competition all season.
“Representing any manufacturer is a privilege, especially one like McLaren. It has a heritage that very few manufacturers can match, so I’m thankful for this opportunity. I learned quite a bit driving for GM, and those years and championships put me in a position to take this next step in my career. I’m really looking forward to what this season has in store for me, Blackdog Speed Shop and McLaren.”
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “We’re all very proud of Michael and are grateful to have him back as part of our program. McLaren obviously sees what we have known for a long time – that Michael is one of the best and most successful drivers in the sport. It’s been great seeing his talent grow and develop over the years. I’m excited for what the season holds for both of us.”
About Blackdog Speed Shop
Blackdog Speed Shop Blackdog Speed Shop is a high-performance, custom car builder in the northern suburbs of Chicago specializing in ground-up car builds, high-performance upgrades for engines, transmissions, suspension and exhaust including computer and dyno tuning. Whether you have a modern muscle car, vintage muscle, 1930s hot rod or a foreign exotic, you will enjoy the Blackdog experience.
Ever dreamed of piloting a real World Challenge race car? Blackdog offers rental and “arrive and drive” racing in addition to purpose-built cars. Call Blackdog today at (855) 4-BLACKDOG to schedule an appointment or discuss the best way to put you in the driver’s seat!
Blackdog Speed Shop at a Glance
•Pirelli World Challenge GTS Driver Championships – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
•Pirelli World Challenge GTS Team Championships – 2013, 2017, 2018
•Pirelli World Challenge GTS Manufacturer Championships – 2013, 2017
•Pirelli World Challenge GTS Victories: 25 – Most in class history