The history of North American sports car racing can’t be written without Flying Lizard Motorsports. Its IMSA legacy dates back 20 years to the American Le Mans Series era and its current program is spread across IMSA and SRO America paddocks.

However, it hasn’t made an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship start of any kind since the 2016 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, in a joint effort with Krohn Racing, with an Audi R8 LMS Ultra.

That will change with next week’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, when the Lizards will field the No. 28 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo with drivers Elias Sabo and Andy Lee in GT Daytona (GTD).

It will mark both Sabo and Lee’s WeatherTech Championship debuts, but it also is a welcome return for the Lizards both at Long Beach and for its program manager Darren Law.

Sabo, who joined the Flying Lizard fold in 2022, has progressed through his sports car career first in GT4 machinery and then this year up to GT3. The Southern California native had this race circled as a career “bucket list” item, and as Law explained, the stars aligned for what, at the moment, is a one-off WeatherTech Championship race.

“It’s close to home and something he’s always wanted to do,” Law said. “One of his companies, 5.11, is located in Southern California. There are suites, corporate personnel, lots of guests and a new GT3 car, so it all worked out!

“It’s a pretty big project for one race, but that’s the commitment we’ve shown for this effort. You have to sort things for IMSA like electronics, series monitoring and a different tire.

“But it’s important for Elias as a home race,” continued Law. “And important for us where it’s a homecoming back from the American Le Mans Series days to be back in IMSA!”

Law joked that while he couldn’t remember what he did earlier in the week, he could easily recall a runner-up finish co-driving with Patrick Long at Long Beach in a Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR back in 2007.

Current Lizard activities are far busier. The Long Beach weekend comes at the tail end of a whirlwind offseason where the team prepped its four Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America cars for the season opener at Sebring last month where they scored a win, two additional podiums and two pole positions, as well as its five SRO cars for the start of that season at Sonoma Raceway earlier this month.

There’s another major project that’s encompassed the offseason. The team is in the process of transitioning from its Sonoma shop where it operated for 20 years to Apex Motor Club in Phoenix, where it should be operational by the end of April. As Law related, that’s as big a task – if not bigger – than traditional season prep.

“You don’t realize how much comes with 20 years of loading and unloading a shop until you do it,” he said. “You also don’t know how many boxes you need for trophies!”

In the team’s 11 full-season and two partial-season IMSA efforts, they earned six championship titles, 69 podiums, and 25 race wins.

Though it shifted from a factory-supported effort to a primarily customer program in the last decade, its presence at the front of the field is expected whenever it competes.

That’s the legacy the Lizards established during its time in the WeatherTech Championship, through its prior guises. At Long Beach specifically, the team won twice with Porsches and added other success in other series in later years since its most recent start there in 2019.

For Law, Sabo and Lee at Long Beach though, the goal is slightly different: make the laps first, gain the experience for later, and soak up the joy that is one of the highlights on the calendar.

“Elias has a simulator, so he’s spent time driving the track and learning it,” Law said. “He has Andy as his coach and I’m so happy to help as well; I’ve done Long Beach many times in the past.

“Our goal is that this is his first foray into IMSA so it’s to enjoy the race, get through it and complete it. If we have a great result, that’s an added bonus.

“Long Beach as an event is super cool. I grew up in Southern California and have been going to this since I was a kid. And I still catch up with friends during the weekend.

“For a driver, it’s a bucket list and high-profile event to do. I loved racing there. It’s really neat for us to be able to do.”

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is a 100-minute sprint race that features the GTD and Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) classes. USA Network and Peacock will carry flag-to-flag live coverage from 4:30-6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 20.


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