Marshall Pruett broke the news late last week that just weeks after parking its TUSCC P2 programme in anticipation of returning to race in 2015, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has instead closed its doors after an eight-year run by team owner Greg Pickett.
The Indianapolis-based outfit has let almost all of the crew members go with the remaining personnel having now been given notice that the racing programme will not continue.
Pickett, a long-time racer, formed the ALMS team in 2007, joining the American Le Mans Series as a driver/owner in a Lola P1 prototype, and moved into the P2 class with an ex-Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder before returning to P1 with a Lola-Aston Martin and eventually a HPD ARX-03a, which delivered two consecutive titles from 2012-’13
Greg will reportedly now concentrate on the expansion of his Muscle Milk brand.
We won’t let a Championship winning team go without a tribute to their efforts though – Here, with the assistance of their team website, is a brief canter through the history of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and their predecessor efforts.
Pickett Racing came to being in 1974 as a way for team founder and driver Greg Pickett to satisfy his passion for racing and thirst for speed.
Driven by the ‘challenge of the challenge’ and the spirit of the competition, Pickett’s team initially competed in a few races in the IMSA GT and SCCA Trans-Am series on a part time level.
While the team collected some podium finishes in its first few years of existence, its 1978 season in the Trans-Am Series was a breakout one. Pickett picked up his first wins and went on to give his team its first major Championship.
The team spent another successful five years racing in the Trans-Am Series, after which Pickett decided to call it quits, turning his attention to his career as a businessman.
After spending a good part of the 1980s driving for the likes of Jack Roush and Bob Riley amongst others, Greg Pickett brought his Pickett Racing team back to life in 1991, returning to his role of owner/driver in the Trans-Am Series.
The team would spend the next seven seasons in that series, with Pickett taking another hiatus in 1998 to start up his family business, CytoSport.
In 2002, Pickett returned to Trans-Am competition up until the series ceased in 2005. That final year was a remarkable one for Pickett Racing.
The team, with Pickett behind the wheel of its Jaguar XKR registered seven podium finishes in eight races, including one win on the streets of Edmonton.
It also marked the year that Pickett discovered a German driver named Klaus Graf, who would beat him to the title that season and who would go on to being an integral part of the future of Pickett Racing.
The start of a new era
With his successful family business now well established, Pickett was given the financial flexibility and opportunity to not only continue feeding his passion for racing but also to grow his race team.
There was a fruitful first foray into the American Le Mans Series in 2007, the team scoring four LMP1 class podium finishes amongst the then dominant factory backed LMP2 hordes – five starts each for Messrs Pickett and Graf, the pair joined at Petit Le Mans by Memo Gidley in the Team Cytosport Lola AER (Memo is pictured below).
It was a one off appearance for the team in the very rapid ex Sebah/ Charouz Lola Judd with a first visit to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Pickett and Graf were joined this time by the little Dutch genius, Jan Lammers, qualified a very respectable 12th but had a less happy race, retiring after 146 laps.
Greg Pickett made the commitment of becoming a high-level entrant, in the high end of road racing motor sports in North America. To do so, he expanded his employee base, hired the best people possible and returned to the sports car series in 2009.
That season, the team competing as Muscle Milk Team CytoSport with a newly acquired Porsche RS Spyder, with drivers Pickett and Klaus Graf, took part in four races, which served as preparation for what they had their sight set on: a full 2010 season.
Along the way, the team surprised many by taking four podium finishes in as many races and claiming a third place finish in the driver standings with Graf.
The following season, the Muscle Milk team kicked off its first full season in the ALMS the best way possible, taking its first LMP2 class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring with Pickett and Graf joined by Sascha Maassen (seen here in full flight).
Later on that year, Pickett and Graf gave the team its first overall win in the series at Lime Rock Park.
The team would go on to finish on the podium in all eight races it started, picking up another overall win at Mosport and finishing a close second in the Championship standings. Next time out though Greg would have an almighty shunt in practice that would see him step back from driving for the remainder of the season, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard would both takes turns before Petit Le Mans that year would see Pickett cede his seat to a man that would become important for the team going forward – Lucas Luhr.
In 2011, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing added an IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge entry to its line up for driver Mark Bullitt and bid farewell to its Porsche RS Spyder.
Replacing the Porche was the glorious Lola Aston Martin P1 Coupe, the car taking two pole positions and four wins in nine races, including three consecutive victories on its way to second in the Championship.
That included a stunning finish at Road America with Luhr holding off Guy Smith by just a tenth of a second.
The Aston Martin lasted but a single season and for 2012 it was the arrival of an HPD that would herald a breakthrough season, it all came together for Pickett Racing in 2012 as they picked up their first ALMS P1 Championship. Along the way, they set a Series record by scoring five consecutive overall wins, finished on the podium in all 10 races, started on pole seven times and took a total of six victories with its HPD ARX-03a.
The team would also have a brief and presence in the LMPC class with Mike Guasch, Memo Gidley, Roger Wills and Archie Hamilton driving for the team.
In 2013, the team repeated their success with their HPD and captured a second consecutive ALMS Team and Driver Championship. Along the way, they won eight consecutive races with one second place finish in 10 starts. Their eight wins tied an ALMS record held by Audi and Penske Racing for the most overall race wins in a single season.
Pickett Racing closed out their ‘stint’ in the American Le Mans Series with 45 race starts, 39 podium finishes, including 21 wins, not to mention two Team and Driver Championships.
2014 saw a brave new world, and another new car for the team, with a first US owned Oreca Nissan P2 intended for the new Tudor United Sportscar Championship.
It’s fair to say that this was not a happy match, the P2s well off the pace at Daytona and the Muscle Milk car hitting trouble at both Daytona and Sebring before Greg Pickett first took a step back with the team but soon decided that enough was enough – Game over, shutters down.
For a man, and a team, that had real ambition that’s bordering on the tragic.
For now though, with the decision taken to walk away the message from DSC to Greg, to Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr, Brandon Fry and the loyal crew is a simple one – Thank you – Your team could always be relied upon to race hard and race fair. The sport need many more like you – Hurry back.