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Spec Miata - Gleason Boys Win Spec Miata Enduro

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MILLVILLE, May 2, 2011: The family that races together stays together.

And in the case of the Gleason boys, they also win together.

For the first time in their racing careers, all three drivers in Johnstown, Pa.’s Gleason family shared a sports car for an endurance race last weekend. After 12 hours of grueling competition on Saturday they won the Spec Miata class in the second annual Devil in the Dark event at Thunderbolt Raceway on the grounds of New Jersey Motorsports Park.

The family patriarch, Chris Gleason, who has made headlines co-driving with professional sports car drivers like Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand in the past, has wanted to co-drive with his sons, Chris Gleason Jr. and Kevin Gleason, for a long time. They’re sharing an APR Motorsport VW GTI in Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series this year in preparation for a possible Rolex 24 effort in 2012, but Saturday’s amateur Sports Car Club of America event in New Jersey was the first time they’ve actually had the opportunity to all drive a single car in one race.

The Spec Miata class had the most entries in the event. The Gleasons’ Jim Locke Racing-prepared Miata qualified third and it was in the top three throughout the race, which started at noon and ended at midnight. Their primary rival throughout the event was a Miata prepared by Mitchum Motorsports.

The Mitchum car got better fuel mileage and therefore didn’t have to make as many pit stops for fuel as the Gleasons’ car did, but the Gleasons were able to record consistently fast laps to seal the victory in the end. Kevin Gleason made the winning pass by the Mitchum entry with just 30 minutes to go.

“It was one of the most wonderful racing experiences I’ve ever had,” Chris Gleason said afterwards. “It’s always been a dream of mine to win a race with my boys. Kevin and Chris Jr. were both faster than I was, and I’m just so proud of them. Jim Locke prepared a great car. We didn’t have a single problem. We chased down our competitors and took the lead with 30 minutes to go. It was really exciting! We won, we laughed, I cried, we drank some beers and we had a day none of us will ever forget.”

Both Kevin Gleason and Chris Gleason Jr. have driven Jim Locke-prepped Spec Miatas in other events.

“It ran like a clock,” Chris Gleason said. “That track has high cornering speeds. We’ll all be sore for a couple days, but it was terrific!

“I did two shifts, and drove about three hours,” he added. “I sat the boys down with four hours to go after my last shift and told them ‘You guys will probably have to chase the Mitchum car down.’ I went to the sidelines and they went to work. Kevin made the final pass for the lead with 30 minutes remaining in the race.

“It was a really nice event,” Gleason added. “They had a good crowd. There was a rock concert, food, and games for the fans to play in addition to watching the race.”

"This win was absolutely a team victory,” said Chris Gleason Jr. “Jim Locke and his crew did a wonderful job preparing the car and we ended up beating teams with more resources in the pits. The car ran like a Swiss watch. We drove the wheels off the Miata for 12 straight hours and it didn't miss a beat. That is a testament to Jim Locke's preparation and to Bob Thornton at Race Engineering for putting together a bulletproof engine. If you want the fastest, most reliable Spec Miata engine on the track, take it to Bob at Race Engineering.

“It’s a great feeling to get the win with my father and brother, especially since it was our first enduro together,” he added. “We had to work through some adversity, which makes getting the win that much more sweet. "

Now it’s back to Grand-Am competition.

“The boys are doing the next race, the Bosch Engineering 200 at Virginia International Raceway, on May 13-14,” Chris Gleason said. “Kevin and I may do Lime Rock together at the end of the month. Chris and I may do the Mid-Ohio race together. We sort of make up the driver line-up as we go along.”