Whether at the poker table or behind the wheel of a race car, Novato’s Jason Alexandridis delights in taking risks in the heat of the moment.
On the track, you look for the “sayings” of the pilots who precede you; where they might brake earlier than you, put on the gas later in a specific corner consistently, or leave a door open at the turn.
Unlike the Wild West of the 1800s, physical risks are non-existent in Texas Hold ‘Em. And when you make a mistake in racing, the most common penalty is losing a position or two, or maybe swapping paint and steering wheels. But physical harm is on the table, so you never consciously do everything.
Alexandridis is saving that for the poker table, like the Wynn Classic tournament he played in last weekend at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas. He didn’t cash in, but he got his entry fee back and more in gambling.
“I love competitive tournament poker. It’s good. It’s a game of skill,” Alexandridis said from the hotel again minutes before his first hand. race. It sharpens my mind a bit. »
This weekend, Alexandridis will co-drive the #66 TRG Rebounderz/Trace3 Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport with Derek DeBoer in the amateur class of the SRO GT4 America Series. They are part of the SRO Fanatec GT World Challenge weekend.
The two will race the entire SRO GT4 America season, with Saturday and Sunday races at Sonoma Raceway providing the season openers. Kevin Buckler of Novato, owner of The Racer’s Group (TRG), will also have them tested at every track on the calendar before their races there. Buckler also presents another Porsche, the #17 for Jim Rappaport and Todd Hetherington. All of this, in a competitive sense, will provide Alexandridis with his best shot yet for a professional title.
The Alexandridis/DeBoer couple have been suspended for over a year due to COVID. Six years ago they teamed up for a second-place finish in the Grantsville, Utah round of the World Challenge Sprint X series, the precursor to the SRO variant now on the racing scene.
Since then, they have been looking to race together for TRG. But in 2018, Alexandridis was set to focus on opening its second Rebounderz franchise in Sacramento after the success of its first in Rohnert Park. It looked like 2020 might be the year, but then COVID hit, ending much of road racing in America.
But COVID also closed both Rebounderz indoor trampoline sites for 13 months. For Alexandridis, who started his run thanks to what he did while working for eBay, it was hard to see his growing business threatened.
Buckler appreciates what Alexandridis had to overcome. After all, his Adobe Road Winery tasting room in the heart of downtown Petaluma encountered similar speed bumps.
“This guy has a crazy good job, and then the world falls apart, and he hangs on, and now he’s ready to go racing again,” Buckler said of Alexandridis. “He is doing a good job. He’s fast and he’s smart. And those things don’t always go together.
Alexandridis is really looking forward to working with DeBoer again.
“I’m actually kind of grateful it happened like that because Derek didn’t skip a beat,” Alexandridis said. “It gave us that momentum where he improved a lot with the data.”
Acquiring data from race car inputs provides an extremely useful learning tool. If the driver does not balance the car perfectly, too much throttle in the middle of the corner will cause understeer pushing the car wider than the preferred line. This is confirmed by the steering input trace which will show that the wheel is turned farther than it should be.
Most riders make mountains of little mistakes like where steering, throttle, weight shift, brake pressure and other variables are synchronized in time around a given lap. . Learning from that data is how you make molehills out of those mountains.
“It’s been a way for me to come back, because he’s really sharp, really on it right now,” Alexandridis said of DeBoer. When two riders’ data graphs are overlaid, the keys to improvement are obvious as day. “I’m grateful for that because I don’t know if we had that in 2016.”
And DeBoer, Buckler and Alexandridis made waves in the racing world before they even got their first green flag on Saturday. DeBoer took a page of “art car” racing history from the 1970s when internationally renowned artists designed the paint schemes for particular entries raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and elsewhere. When I was at the 1979 24 Hours, I took pictures of Andy Warhol’s hand-painted BMW M1.
For this modern iteration, DeBoer has developed a relationship its sponsor AutoMoto has with Robert Williams, who the Robb Report calls “the poster boy for West Coast Outlaw culture since the 1960s” in their article describing the fruits of that effort.
“Having Robert Williams’ artwork on our car is quite an honor,” said DeBoer. “The idea came from a collaboration I have with my partners AutoMoto and BRM Chronographs. AutoMoto has a relationship with Williams, and through a discussion of his works, we decided that a special edition and limited run of BRM watches could be a magical thing.
Williams worked with Rat Fink character designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. If you’re old enough (or cool enough) to remember images of a big-eared rat with bulging, bloodshot eyes reaching fourth gear with its tongue hanging out, you know who we’re talking about. Williams has also done art for Zap Comix.
“This collaboration came together very easily and we decided what better way to market and promote the watches than to bring the artwork directly to TRG #66!” says DeBoer.
This led to precision graphic work by AutoMoto, reproducing Williams’ 1993 painting, “Cowboys and Amoebas” with jaw-dropping result wrapping around the body of the Porsche. And BRM Chronographs has made limited edition watches using sections of this same art as their watch faces.
“It’s Derek’s idea. He always has these crazy, young, alternative ideas,” Buckler said of the project. “He was a professional wakeboarder before and he wanted to come up with a cool design and he went to the guy from Guns N’ Roses.”
Funnily enough, crazy ideas like this are part of Buckler’s mindset as a team owner, winemaker and accomplished racer. He thinks outside the box, realizing that a racing team becomes stronger when it embraces the needs of their riders’ wives and family members, as well as sponsors and their families. He sees his role as a host as well as a team owner.
And the cross-pollination with his Adobe Road Winery and the people he drew into this world makes the run for Buckler even more unique.
“It’s a family. It is a step beyond. It’s more than just “Let’s go racing and have fun out there.” It’s a passion where he tries to incorporate racing into his other brands,” Alexandridis said of Buckler. “And all these people involved with these other brands are incorporating that into racing. You’ve seen the big podium celebrations where there’s a hundred people on the podium for pictures.
And as a businessman, Alexandridis doesn’t have the bandwidth to get into racing, trying to work his way up to an IndyCar career. That’s why the fit with TRG is perfect for him. It’s a race with no pressure beyond doing your best on any given day, with a crowd to celebrate with.
“There’s something about it for my own enjoyment because I see it as, ‘Yeah, I want to be out there and be competitive. I want to win.’ I’m a runner at heart,” Alexandridis added. “But I have a family and all the other stuff, so I really appreciate the social component of what TRG brings.”
Tiburon’s Memo Gidley has irons on both sides of the pond. This weekend, he will co-drive Rinaldi Racing’s No.32 Ehret Family Vineyards Ferrari 488 GTE EVO with Pierre Ehret and Nicolas Varrone. And the AI Sport IMSA Prototype Challenge team wants Gidley back at the wheel of his LMP3 Duqueine D08 Nissan that Memo put on pole for the first round of the championship at Daytona in January.