International GT: Pro cars, pro vibe, easy access

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Sep 16, 2023 | Ferrari, Porsche, Endurance Racing, GT3, GT4, International GT | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2023 issue | Never miss an article

Photography by David S. Wallens

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Series tend to come and go, but International GT reaches a milestone this year: its 10th season. That’s a testament to the organization, especially since it runs late-model Porsches and Ferraris–vehicles that racers could run at many other places. 

However, a strong contingent of teams–both professional and amateur–elects to race International GT. That includes IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver Cooper MacNeil.

We are fortunate in North America to have several professional racing championships to choose from,” MacNeil explains. “Each delivers great on-track action at different levels of investment and competition. I’ve competed in a couple of the International GT events–most recently at Road America in May, looking to get in some laps before Le Mans at my home track. It is great competition on a great track with cars that are well prepared and well driven.

There are a lot of GT3-spec cars in this country, and series like the International GT and GT Celebration offer another outlet to exercise these great cars on some of North America’s best tracks. In addition, there are different categories to choose from for the pro and amateur driver.”

International GT sticks to top-tier, marquee-level tracks–think Lime Rock, COTA, Watkins Glen and, as shown here, Daytona International Speedway. Most cars arrive via hauler with a full crew at the ready.  

International GT General Manager and Director of Competition Ken Fengler cites what makes his organization different than others: “Everything we do, we do at a professional level. My staff and I have a lot of experience. I’ve been in this business for over 35 years. We treat our drivers and teams like customers.”

Bigger organizations tend to have layers of hierarchy, which sometimes complicates communication between teams and decision-makers. Not so at International GT.

We don’t have committees–the buck stops here,” Fengler explains. “It’s pretty easy. You don’t have to chase around for an answer.”

Fengler tries to also build up camaraderie among participants. He cited it as one of the essential elements of International GT’s success.

We want sportsmen on the race track and good guys in the paddock who want to interact with each other,” he says. “Our drivers and teams are our best ambassadors. They’ll see a new guy show up and they’ll come over saying, ‘Hey, I’m so-and-so, and we’re glad you’re here.’ People want to race with their friends–that’s why they come to us.”

Pippa Mann, who has seven Indianapolis 500 starts, also competes in International GT. “International GT is a great place to run because of the rules in place in regards to the standards of driving and due to the general atmosphere in the paddock,” Mann says. “I love being able to bring clients who I can drive with to the series, and I hope to be part of the paddock for many seasons to come.”

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Comments
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/1/23 9:17 a.m.

In the last few months, we've welcomed several national series to Daytona: HSR, IMSA (a few times) and International GT.

International GT might be the sleeper: cool cars, tons of access and not many people in the way.

I took two friends to the event. They were both blown away by the cars and the access. They were very much like, "I can't believe we're standing among GT3 cars in the Daytona garages and talking with the crews."

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/1/23 11:24 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I'm always on the look for top-tier racing without top-tier crowds, so I think I'll be adding International GT to my "fun stuff to do" calendar. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/2/23 11:53 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

See you there. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/3/23 10:57 a.m.

At Daytona, International GT shares the weekend with an Audi club track event. Basically, it's a chance to see GT3 cars race in a most chill environment. 

racerfink
racerfink UberDork
2/3/23 11:20 a.m.

So, what are the license requirements for this class?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/3/23 12:13 p.m.
racerfink said:

So, what are the license requirements for this class?

International GT's comp license application

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