IMSA: ERA Motorsport mixing vintage racing, LMP2 competition

ERA Motorsport have burst onto the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship scene, scoring podiums in every race so far in the 2020 season. How did the team get here?

Like any racing team, ERA Motorsport‘s story starts with a passion for racing. But unlike other current teams competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship that are either factory-supported or run by a conglomerate of sponsors, ERA Motorsport have used their vintage racing business as a stepping stone into the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class.

Enter team owner and lead driver Kyle Tilley. Tilley’s experience draws back to 2010, when he competed in various Prototype and GT classes in Europe and America.

But even before ERA Motorsport joined the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship LMP2 class with their Oreca 07, they had operated extensively in the vintage racing community in North America and Europe, winning races and preparing cars at the highest level.

In many respects, it is traditional for a company to use their more current operations to fund vintage/historic racing pleasures. While sitting down for an interview with Tilley, he detailed the success and growth of ERA Motorsport’s actions in the vintage racing community.

“We have 18 cars of our own that we race with another eight in various stages of restoration, including Roger Penske’s first IndyCar,” he said.

ERA Motorsport have expanded their vintage efforts into trackside and customer car support, making them one of the few large operations to become profitable in the current age of vintage racing.

While vintage racing has been a passion for ERA Motorsport and their tight-knit team of specialists, competing in a current series has always been a draw to the organization. With so many options to take for a company that has a global reach, IMSA’s LMP2 was attractive for a few reasons.

“The Oreca 07 is such an attractive car to step into with its off-the-shelf purchase ability. The car is incredibly accessible for pros and gentlemen drivers,” said Tilley.

With a proven car in the Oreca 07 racing in an LMP2 class dominated by other Oreca 07 machines, it is up to each team’s driver lineup to bring in the points.

For the endurance races where the team utilize a three-driver or a four-driver lineup, ERA Motorsport have managed to attract LMP2 aces Colin Braun and Nicolas Minassian, with Dwight Merriman filling the gentleman driver role required for LMP2 teams. For the standard length races, Merriman and Tilley have proven to be a successful pairing.

So how have ERA Motorsport fared so far in the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season? Three third place finishes in the the first three races have the team in the thick of LMP2 competition with 60 points, just four points behind class leaders Performance Tech Motorsports.

While this third place consistency has kept the team in points contention, which is important for a relatively small team in a series that rewards consistency, they are pushing hard to break through for class wins.

This bodes well for the current and future plans that Tilley has for ERA Motorsport in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,

“We are set to be here for multiple seasons and want to compete for championships. This first year is going to involve a lot of driver and team development and we plan to take our knowledge gained from the first season and apply it to the following seasons.”

Kyle Tilley and ERA Motorsport are slated to get their chance for a class win on Sunday, September 6 during the 6 Hours of Atlanta at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Will the team of vintage racing enthusiasts have what it takes to close the gap and claim top step in the LMP2 category?