The One All About James
Sheboygan local, James French, will race in front of his home crowd for the last time in his No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Prototype Challenge this Sunday, Aug. 6 at Road America.
This year is the final season for the PC class and what a season it has been for French and Performance Tech. The team is inching closer to the perfect season with only two races remaining on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship PC class schedule.
French along with his co-driver Patricio O’Ward and endurance driver Kyle Masson have conquered every track to cross their paths. That makes for six wins in total. French has also racked up five TOTAL pole awards this year, giving him nine career poles in the IMSA sanctioned series.
There’s something special about a home race, but it’s only amplified when the hometown kid is also leading a championship and has already locked up the Tequila Patròn North American Endurance Championship in PC. The crescendo of French’s season is always Road America. French’s long history of competing at Road America makes him nearly a legend to those who frequent the facility. He’s raced in everything from his No. 38 PC to a Jordan F1 and even an Indy Lights car. If it’s race day at Road America, James French is around.
With all the distracting hype, Team Principal Brent O’Neill has to admit he enjoys seeing French in the spotlight.
“It is actually a lot of fun for us,” O’Neill said. “To have James with us at this race is just fun. He has all his friends and family come out to support him. They’re always so excited, and you know maybe there’s some pressure, but they’re so positive and happy for him no matter what. This year it’s cool because we’re leading the championship and the Patron Championship locked up. It’ll be a really exciting weekend.”
French will give up some of his spotlights at Road America to O’Ward. This time around it will be O’Ward doing the honors of qualifying. He’ll see if he has what it takes to keep the No. 38 on pole and out front at the start of the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. French will then close the race and take the checkered flag for Performance Tech.
“We’re probably going to see Pato qualifying at Road America,” O’Neill said. “Road America is so big; Pato can take his time working through traffic. It’ll be a little bit of a challenge for him, but it’ll be good. We’re at that time of the year where everyone is trying to win a race, but there isn’t much time left to do it, so the starts become a little hectic. At Mosport, we almost got taken out at the start of the race. But we haven’t changed our plan, we go to a race and race hard. We aren’t a field filler. We’re always there to go for the win.”
Along with racing French has a special promotion for his home crowd. He and sponsor SKELETON Optics will be giving out 10 pairs of free sunglasses and hats over the weekend. The premium eyewear sells for upward of $200. To win fans simply have to follow @Perf_Tech on Twitter and watch for details. A special discount promo will also be available for online sales.
The race weekend begins with a full day of practice Friday, Aug. 4. Qualifying takes place the following day Saturday, Aug. 5. Qualifying begins with the GT Daytona class at 12:35 p.m. ET; the PC class takes its turn at 1:25 p.m. Race day is Sunday, Aug. 6 with the Continental Tire Road Race Show.