Texan Tracy Krohn, who has been campaigning his green Ferrari F430 GT in the American Le Mans Series since 2007, may just be the archetypal gentleman racer. “When I was in college, I bought a used MGB and put a roll bar in it; I thought it looked cool,” he recalled. “One day, I stopped to watch an SCCA autocross in the parking lot of the stadium. A guy loaned me a helmet, and I entered and won it. I won the next one, too, and the bug had bit. I wanted to try road racing, but then I blew the engine and couldn’t afford to fix it. It was game over.”
A couple of decades later, Krohn, after founding oiland-gas-exploration company W&T Offshore, bought a Porsche and went to racing school. “I then competed in an amateur racing series and finished second,” he said, “so I decided to try professional racing. I was very humbled by that experience!”
He may have been humbled perhaps, but his enthusiasm for racing wasn’t diminished. In 2004, he entered a Lamborghini Murcielago RGT in the ALMS. “The car was just a disaster,” Krohn said. “The chassis was too flexible, the motor and center of gravity were too high, and the car would go into a corner one way and come out another.”
The following year, he founded Krohn Racing to field a prototype in Grand-Am, the first in a string of cars to wear Krohn’s striking shade of green paint. “I then got to know Giuseppe Risi, who was running a professional team here in Houston,” he said. “First thing I knew, I was racing with Risi Competizione, a few races here, a few races there.”
Risi supplied the pit crew, while Krohn and professional racer Nic Jonsson handled the driving duties. “Unlike the Lamborghini, the Ferrari was pretty well-sorted,” said Krohn. “We got a couple of podium finishes at Le Mans [in 2007 and ’09] and Sebring [in 2008].”
These results are very impressive for a privateer team. While GT-class racing has never been more competitive than it is today, it is usually the same group of factory-backed teams and professional drivers that fills the front of the grid and the podium. To even out this usually lop-sided state of affairs, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series, split its GT category into Professional and Amateur ranks for the 2011 season.
The GTE-Pro field consists of the top factory teams, with their full cadre of professional drivers, competing for the Manufacturer’s Championship in the latest models. Teams in GTE-Am are allowed just one pro driver and must drive cars that are at least one year old. “I think the new class evens things out a bit for us,” said Krohn.