11 rounds of competition. Schein joined the
GTA class after running in Porsche Cup cars
for four seasons. He says he was looking for
a step up from the Cup car and prefers
sprint racing, so GT3 machinery in World
Challenge was the ideal fit. The ability to
race with, without directly fighting against,
the professionals is an added bonus.
“There’s no better benchmark to
compare yourself against,” he says.
“Sometimes you’re on par, and other days
you’re a bit back. So it’s nice that you get to
compare yourself to them, but at the same
time you’re not competing against them
per se. Also, having a pro on my team with
Patrick [Long] helps a lot.”
Factory Porsche driver Long joined
Wright Motorsports when the team he
started the season with, Effort Racing,
ceased a third of the way into the season.
So being on the same track, with the
same equipment, at the same time as one
of the fastest Porsche shoes in the
country makes for a clear understanding
of where one sits as a driver.
In contrast to Schein, who races for the
love of it, 2015 GTA champion Frank
Montecalvo is eyeing a career as a pro
driver. After winning the title with Bayshore
Racing, he moved to DIME Racing &
Development. He and the team started out
the season planning to compete in GT with
their Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, but the
season didn’t go quite as planned.
“We wanted to get the team going,
get the ball rolling and work our way up.
I wanted to earn that GT badge, finish on
the podium,” Montecalvo says. “We’ve
been struggling a bit this year to do that.
It’s a little frustrating for me when we
were finishing top 10 last year in the GT
field, and that’s where we thought we
were going. For us it was a decision to
stay in GTA right now until the team is up
to speed with the car.”
Montecalvo has had some stiff
competition this year in Schein and points
leader Martin Fuentes, who has won eight
races in the No. 07 Hublot/Under Armour
Ferrari 458 Italia for Scuderia Corsa. But
he also laments a decrease in the field at
most races. Part of that is people moving
on to GT – Bryan Heitkotter and Michael
Lewis both raced GTA for all or part of
2015, but are in GT this year, for example.
“We had a great influx in the second
year of the program,” says Gill. “This year,
there has not been as much of that, and I
think there has been a variety of factors
that led to that. But this is the time of
year people start planning for next
season, and everything we’re hearing is
there’s going to be an increase in GTA
next year.” Gill notes that he expects to
see growth in part from second-tier
interest as the GT teams update to the
latest machinery and there are greater
numbers of older GT3 cars available.
If anything, GTA is about opportunity.
“It brings in an up-and-coming driver
who really wants to build his talent and go
to GT and be a professional driver,” says
Montecalvo. “That’s what appealed to me.
It gives you the platform to learn the GT3
car, and start racing at a little less.
competitive level than GT.”
“It’s nice that you get to
compare yourself to the
pros, but you’re not
competing against them”
While some GTA
drivers like Michael
Schein (LEFT) are
racing for fun, others
such as Frank
are eyeing a pro
career, with GTA as
the stepping stone.