In 1986, John Crosby and Jon Scheurich brought a Porsche 944 to the Classic Motorsports Mitty event at Road Atlanta, driving it around the famous circuit with street cars.
Crosby worked in the New Orleans area, and Scheurich was a 19-year-old college student. They had met around New Orleans, forming a quick friendship over their love of the iconic German cars.
Scheurich eventually formed NOLAsport, a successful New Orleans company that specialized in Porsche street car service. Crosby grew his real estate development company, Crosby Development, and competed at Porsche club racing events around the country with Scheurich.
Their friendship of nearly 30 years will reach a new level April 10-12 when NOLAsport fields a Platinum Cup Porsche for Crosby to drive in the two Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama rounds during the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Verizon IndyCar Series event at their home track, NOLA Motorsports Park.
NOLAsport tested on the 2.74-mile circuit at NOLA Motorsports Park this week along with many other drivers and teams from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Porsche Single-Make Series.
"I told my wife when I got home last night. I’ve worked with other teams before for these type of events, Daytona, Sebring and stuff like that, and yesterday being on the pit lane with all the equipment and the crews and all the Cup cars out there, it was like a reality check," Scheurich said. "It was like: ‘Wow, this is here now. Here at our home track.’"
NOLA Motorsports Park, located 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans in Avondale, Louisiana, is more than just a home track for NOLAsport. It’s also one of the two home bases for the business.
The New Orleans location specializes in servicing Porsche street cars, doing some Porsche race car preparation in the past for club racing customers. But Scheurich, with help from Crosby, jumped at the opportunity about a year ago to expand his race preparation business in a large shop located about 200 yards inside the entrance of NOLA Motorsports Park.
"Taking over this facility has allowed us to grow it and try to grow the market and continue the effort," Scheurich said.
Crosby, from nearby Mandeville, Louisiana, has a fleet of racing Porsches in NOLAsport’s shop at NOLA Motorsports Park. The newest car in the collection is the 911 GT3 Cup car he will drive in as many as four Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama weekends this season as he makes the leap from club racing to semi-professional competition.
NOLAsport and Crosby plan to race in the season-opening rounds March 18-20 at Sebring International Raceway, the next two rounds April 10-12 at NOLA Motorsports Park, the two rounds Aug. 21-23 at VIRginia International Raceway and possibly the season finale during Porsche Rennsport Reunion V on Sept. 25-27 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Crosby and Scheurich realized it made sense to compete in more than just their home race after buying the new car. But they also admit there’s no question the addition of the two series rounds at NOLA Motorsports Park prompted them to make the initial financial and mental commitment to race in the series.
"We bought this car because the race came to New Orleans," Crosby said. "If the race wasn’t here, this wouldn’t be happening with this car.
"We’ll go to Sebring and see how it is with these guys. We did the test, and that was nice, but it’s not race traffic. And then come here and do a couple more after."
Scheurich has a close relationship with track owners Laney and Ruth Chouest and track president Kristen Engeron. They kept Scheurich abreast of the possible support races for the debut Verizon IndyCar Series race in April 2015 at NOLA, including the prospects of Porsche competition.
Once a deal was signed with IMSA to bring Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama to NOLA, it was go time for Scheurich, Crosby and NOLAsport.
"We worked with the track," Scheurich said. "They’ve been telling us along the way it was a possibility, so we’ve been prepared and ready to go once we knew it was a committed deal."
Crosby also has insider knowledge - of the fast, flowing, flat circuit designed by Alan Wilson, whose other layouts include Miller Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park. Crosby estimates he has turned around 3,000 laps on the circuit during its three years of operation.
But that home track advantage won’t be as helpful as anticipated April 10-12 because the circuit configuration for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana weekend will be slightly different than that used for Porsche club events and track days in which Crosby has participated.
"A lot of the track is the same, but a lot is different," Crosby said. "You learn to do this particular turn one way, and it’s different. You have habits ingrained so much that you almost have to unlearn what you did. I had a little trouble with that yesterday.
"Plus these guys are all good, and they’re quick learners. That (home track) advantage lasts about one session, maybe two sessions. And after that, it’s all the same."
Crosby said he won’t change his driving style — a steady approach to building speed and confidence - during the two Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama races at NOLA. But he and Scheurich admit to great anticipation and pride about finally being able to compete in a major event in their backyard.
"It’s a big deal," Crosby said. "It’s fun to be part of it and be here. As far as the way I’m going to drive the car, I’m not going to change. I’m going to be fairly conservative. I’ve got to pay all my own bills, so that part is not going to be much difference. But just being part of it is pretty exciting."
Said Scheurich: “This is an awesome thing for us because we’ve known each other for 20 some-odd years racing Porsches. That’s how we met, when I was in college. Two guys who have just as much zest for it in a town that’s never really had the opportunity.” http://nascarne.ws/1avgWYK #NASCAR