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TeamSLR Trio Set To Take On Road America

Fulltimer Barry Boes Joined by Thomas Ellis, Sportscar Journeyman Mike Skeen

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (June 26, 2024) – A pair of familiar faces joins 2024 TeamSLR fulltime driver Barry Boes for Saturday’s eighth round of the Cube 3 Architecture TA2 Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Last Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Boes earned a solid sixth-place overall finish and his fourth Pro-Am Challenge-class victory in seven races this season behind the wheel of his No. 27 Accio Data/SLR-M1 Racecars Ford Mustang.

Returning to TeamSLR this weekend on the iconic 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America circuit is 29-year-old Thomas Ellis of Pompano Beach, Florida in the No. 8 Averitt Express/SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro he last piloted in the first two races of the season at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. And joining TeamSLR for the first time is veteran sportscar and TA2 Series racer Mike Skeen, the 37-year-old from Durham, North Carolina who will be behind the wheel of the No. 17 Cube 3 Architecture/Franklin Road Apparel/SLR-M1 Racecars Ford Mustang.

With his strong showing at Mid-Ohio last weekend, which began with top-five performances in both TA2 test sessions, as well as official TA2 practice, Boes extended his lead in the Pro-Am Challenge standings to 109 points over second-place Tom Sheehan. Boes will be making his sixth career TA2 Series appearance at Road America this weekend. Best of the first-year TeamSLR driver’s previous five outings at the track was his most recent, a 10th-place run last season. His previous best was an 11th-place finish in 2020. Outside the TA2 Series, Boes has raced at Road America in SCCA Hoosier Super Tour competition, including last Sunday during the June Sprints weekend at the track, and a one-off run during the 2020 Stadium Supertrucks doubleheader at the track, in which he posted finishes of seventh and eighth.

Ellis, whose Sebring and Road Atlanta outings earlier this year were his first in the TA2 Series since 2018, looks to build on his experience with TeamSLR this weekend after showing solid race pace at both events. This weekend marks his first TA2 outing at Road America, a track he has come to endear during his countless hours of work on the simulator.

While Skeen will be racing with TeamSLR for the first time in his versatile career this weekend, he’s certainly no stranger to M1 Racecars equipment. He competed in the chassis during his tour of duty with Peterson Racing, with whom he made 12 starts driving a part-time TA2 Series schedule in 2022 and 2023. He scored back-to-back victories for Peterson in the 2022 races at Road Atlanta and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California among his five podium finishes in 2022 and 2023. Skeen is also no stranger to TA2 Series victory at Road America, having won the 2020 race there en route to that season’s series championship. It was one of his six wins and eight podium finishes in nine races during that abbreviated season, all for Stevens-Miller Racing. Skeen also drove to a runner-up finish from the pole in the 2021 race at Road America behind TeamSLR’s Sam Mayer, the Wisconsin native who scored his first career TA2 Series victory that day.

Another pair of other M1 Racecars entries fielded by Peterson Racing return to the TA2 Series for the second weekend in a row and for the third time this season. Last year’s TA2 Series Rookie of the Year Austin Green returns to the cockpit of the No. 89 Ford Mustang that he qualified on the pole last weekend at Mid-Ohio and drove to a fifth-place finish at Sebring, while team owner and Masters-class competitor Doug Peterson is back behind the wheel of the No. 87 Ford Mustang.

Riding along with this weekend’s TeamSLR drivers and their M1 Racecars, as it will all season long, is Nashville, Tennessee-based Franklin Road Apparel Company, which has been a longtime team supporter.

M1 Racecars was represented on the podium at 12 of the 13 TA2 rounds in 2023, highlighted by a pair of victories by Rafa Matos for Peterson Racing. Team SLR’s Dillon Machavern and Thad Moffitt both scored podium finishes, as did TeamSLR driver Connor Mosack at the season-opening event at Sebring, when he qualified on the pole and led the first 19 laps of the race before finishing third. Evan Slater earned TeamSLR’s first podium finish of 2024 Memorial Day weekend with his second-place finish at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut, and Carson Kvapil followed with a podium of his own when he finished third June 9 in the series’ inaugural race at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

This weekend’s Road America SpeedTour, round eight of the 2024 TA2 campaign, kicks off with test sessions at noon and 3:40 p.m. CDT Thursday, followed by Friday’s official TA2 practice at 10:20 a.m. and qualifying at 3:20 p.m. Race time Saturday is 12:05 p.m. and the 25-lap, 75-minute event will be televised live by series partner MAVTV, augmented by live-streaming video on the Trans Am and SpeedTour channels on YouTube. MAVTV will air a 60-minute race show at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 4.

Barry Boes, Driver, No. 27 Accio Data/SLR-M1 Racecars Ford Mustang:

You’ve raced at Road America in various kinds of racecars for several years. What are the challenges presented when trying to turn consistently fast laps at that track?

“My biggest challenges are the Kink (turn 11), because it’s a risk-everything corner and it takes me a while to work my way up to speed there. The Carousel (turns nine and 10) is a really, really important component to the lap time. You absolutely have to have a car that works well in the Carousel, and you have to drive the car the way that it needs to be driven in the Carousel. Most of the rest of the track is just point-and-shoot, it’s just making sure you execute perfectly every time because you’ve got long straights everywhere and if you don’t come out of the corner perfectly, you pay for it. Braking is a big deal at Road America, but I think my equipment is so good I’ll be able to go 100 percent the whole race.”

You got a head start on preparation for this weekend by competing in the GT2 class race Sunday to wrap up June Sprints weekend at Road America. What did you learn?

“I raced my own personal M1 Racecars TA2 car that I compete with in the Trans Am Western Championship. I had to start in the back of a 60-something-car field because I was running at Mid-Ohio through Saturday and couldn’t practice or qualify at Road America. It was a very eventful race and I ended up with a total of maybe five circles around the track. But the car was really good and I was able to confirm some setup things that could come in handy this weekend. I felt like the car could’ve been really fast. Did one corner faster than I’ve ever run it before, turn eight. Obviously I have to work on the other corners, but the capability is there.”

Consistency seems to be more apparent in your performance from race to race this season, your first at TeamSLR. How would you describe the progress that you’ve been making?

“I see more consistency and more things coming together and more racing with the very fastest drivers. At some point during the season, I hope to qualify in the top-five and I hope to finish in the top-five. If I’m able to do that consistently against the quality of field that races in this series, that would be a success. TeamSLR is certainly first-rate. Scott (Lagasse Jr.) always talks about ‘The Program.’ He’s got a program, this is his program, this is what you do, and he’s all about developing the drivers and making sure the drivers always have the best equipment. He’s delivered on that, and his program works, his program makes drivers better. You can look at the results, and you can also just look at my driving and it’s worked.”

Mike Skeen, Driver, No. 17 Cube 3 Architecture/Franklin Road Apparel/SLR-M1 Racecars Ford Mustang:

The last time we saw you in the TA2 Series was last summer during Detroit Grand Prix weekend. Your thoughts about returning this weekend, and for the first time with TeamSLR?

“I’m looking forward to it. TA2 has always been one of my favorite classes to race in, and even when I don’t have the opportunity to race in it because of conflicts and stuff, I’m paying attention to it and keeping track of what’s going on and how my friends are running. It’s just a blast to race in the series. I’ve always been trying to get back over there whenever I get the opportunity to, especially in good equipment like TeamSLR has to offer.”

You raced in M1 Racecars equipment in your most recent tour of duty with Peterson Racing. How familiar are you with the people at TeamSLR?

“I know Scott reasonably well. I never worked directly with him, really, but after Peterson got the M1 chassis, we were corresponding a little bit more about setup stuff and what not at the track. And even racing against them, we always had a good rapport with Scott and those guys. I have a high level of confidence in what they’re bringing to the track. They’ve always been strong competitors, so I’m interested in being behind the wheel of one of their cars.”

Describe the key aspects of turning fast laps at Road America.

“It’s obviously a big place, a fast track, lots of critical braking zones, you need high traction out of the slow corners, so you have to have a bit of consciousness about saving tires and brakes over the distance of the race to make sure you have something to work with at the end. Since last year’s repave, the track is more of a single line, it made it a little harder to race last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes this year, to see if the track has kind of seasoned a little bit and become a little more raceable. It’s a perfect place to go in the middle of the summer, great weather in a cool area of the country, and it’s always a pleasure to go there and race.”

Thomas Ellis, Driver, No. 8 Averitt Express/SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:

This will be your first TA2 outing since the season’s first two rounds at Sebring and Road Atlanta. Thoughts about racing at Road America this weekend?

“I’m super excited to get back in the car. I’ve spent a lot of time on the sim there, and it’s always been my favorite track. I like the fact that it’s really high-speed and it gives you a really small margin for error in a lot of places around the track. When I’ve been there before in a TA3 Mustang, I experienced a lot of degradation of the brakes and the tires, so I’m interested to see how it goes in a TA2 car.”

What have you been doing to prepare for this weekend?

“I’ve personally been spending a lot of time on the sim trying to keep up with all my reference points, and I’ve also been pushing myself a ton, physically, just to build a little more confidence in getting back into the car. In previous years, M1 Racecars always tend to qualify and finish well at Road America, so I’m looking forward to continuing that this weekend.”

How much of your experience at Sebring and Road Atlanta this year do you expect to come into play this weekend?

“I still have some work to do with qualifying, which has never been my strong suit. But when we looked at race pace, I felt very confident that we can run up front. Scott has been working really hard overlaying data in trying to improve a lot of the things that we can to push hard and turn faster lap times in qualifying. It’ll take time, and continuing to work harder and getting more seat time, we’ll be able to maximize things to the fullest.”