Automatic Racing Enters Two Aston Martin GT4s at Daytona

Friday, January 19, 2018

Automatic Racing ended the 2017 season on a high note, winning the four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Laguna Seca before closing the season with second at Road Atlanta. Now, the team hopes to carry that momentum into next weekend’s 2018 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Automatic Racing will field two Aston Martin GT4s during the four-hour race at their home track. Team veterans Al Carter and Steven Phillips, who earned the top finishes last year, will team up with Aurora Straus in the No. 99 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin GT4. Straus competed in the ST class last season, and Daytona marks the 19-year-old’s GS class debut. Straus is also an avid musician, and she is slated to sing the National Anthem prior to the start of the race.

Rob Ecklin, another longtime Automatic Racing driver, is co-driving the No. 09 Invisible Glass Aston Martin GT4 with Brandon Kidd and Ramin Abdolvahabi. Kidd has an extensive history racing on dirt and asphalt, including the ARCA Racing Series, SCCA Mazda Pro Cup and dirt/asphalt late models. In 2016 he was crowned the 2016 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Rookie of the Year. Abdolvahabi has competed in both the GS and ST classes of the Continental Tire Series, including an 11th-place finish with Automatic Racing at last year’s Daytona round.

The four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona gets the green flag on Friday, January 26, at 1:00pm ET. Fans can follow the action online at, via the IMSA app, or watch live from the track as Automatic Racing kicks off the 2018 season.

Driver Quotes

Steven Phillips:

We had a successful test at the Roar Before the 24, and I hope we’re able to pick up where we left off. The team has really come together to produce two wonderful Aston Martins for us, so we’re looking forward to giving Stoner Car Care another good showing. I’m excited to have Aurora onboard with us, and I think we have a great driver lineup. We’ll have to execute our plan and minimize mistakes: that’s the key. 

Al Carter:

After our strong finish last year, where we had a win and a second, we’re looking forward to the start of 2018. I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting to get back in the car since October. This year there are a lot of new manufacturers and teams in the series, but we unloaded at the Roar the same way we left Atlanta—with a strong car, so I’m pretty confident that we’re ready to go. How cool is it that I get to be paired with the oldest guy and the youngest girl in the field? And I have the utmost respect for both. I watched Aurora last year, so I’m well aware of her talents and experience. I’m confident that she’s going to jump in and be up to speed in her first GS race. 

Aurora Straus:

I’m really looking forward to making this jump up in my career. I think I’m ready to deal with the additional horsepower of the Aston Martin, and I know the car is going to be competitive. Automatic Racing has really been a success story, so being able to be a part of that for the opening round at Daytona is a dream come true.

Rob Ecklin:

We’ll be getting to know each other as people and as drivers. We’ll look over data and go through some laps to identify strong points and weak points. 2017 was exciting to watch for Steven and Al, and the cars are competitive and ready to go for 2018. We’ll put our best foot forward and see what we can do. I’m anxious to get back on track.

Brandon Kidd:

This is my first time in the series, so I just have to take advantage of my teammates. They’re all so experienced, and I leaned a lot from Al and Steven during the Roar to get my lap times down. I think the driver changes will be the tough part! The car and the drivers have to make the whole race, and it’s going to be a long day, but we hope to keep the car in one piece. I’d like us to be there for a solid finish at the end.

Ramin Abdolvahabi:

The Aston Martin is fantastic. Automatic Racing has done this car for so many years and it’s really competitive. We have a lot of new cars in the field, but Automatic Racing has a great track record with the Aston Martin. In a four-hour race, you’ve got to consider all of the valuables. You can’t treat it as a sprint race. You have to be conscious and pace yourself.