During that span, Ilker Starck tried to juggle running his performance business and race team while continuing to drive a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin as often as possible. But he wasn't happy with his driving results.
So this year, Starck is ready to have fun behind the wheel by becoming a bit more selfish.
Starck plans to compete in the entire Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series this season in his No. 48 SCB Racing entry in the Gold Class, with continued sponsorship from Toronto Porsche dealer Downtown Porsche. He also plans to field the No. 38 Porsche in the Silver Class for selected races and welcomes drivers interested in that car.
The 2014 season starts May 17-18 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
"I think the trigger for me was that this was the fifth year of this business," Starck said. "This is not a hobby shop. This is a full-fledged business that has to make profit. Over the past years, I feel like I haven't had my full energy in the race car because I was so focused on building my business.
"I'm hoping I've reached a point where I can just do at least one season where everybody helps me to reach my goals. Before I had the business, I was actively racing, and we were winning and having fun. With the business, it got kind of divided. We started taking care of a lot of people, and I didn't get to race that much. It made me feel like 'I'm in, I'm out, I'm in, I'm out.'
"I owe this to myself after so many years of building the business and working hard, being a certified Porsche instructor. I want to do this full season, and I want to give it my best. This year my goal is to go in well prepared, and in good shape mentally and with my skill set, and to win the championship in Gold."
Part of that preparation included securing continued support from Downtown Porsche, a supporter of SCB Racing since the team joined the series in 2011.
"They've been good to us," Starck said of Downtown Porsche. "You need a partner like that with a purpose. You want it to be tied in. Selling Porsche sports cars, Porsche racing is a big, big factor."
Starck will promote SportsCarBoutique, SCB Racing, Downtown Porsche and the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series March 21-23 by displaying his car and distributing series and Porsche promotional materials at the Megaspeed Custom Car & Truck Show at the International Centre in Toronto.
"We have been part of the series for the past three years and are very positive about our participation and the future growth of the championship," Starck said.
Starck also has prepared for the 2014 season on his Simcraft full-motion racing simulator. The unit, which Starck estimated costs between $70,000-$80,000, is no toy. It's a proper training tool loaded with software simulating a 911 GT3 Cup car and is available for rental to any drivers from Canada and the United States who want to sharpen their skills without the expense or logistics of track testing.
"I think my customers have been spending more time on it than I have," Starck said with a laugh about the simulator. "It's just like the racing - I don't have much time."
But Starck is committed to finding the time to challenge for the Gold Championship while continuing to grow his business and pay close attention to his customers at the shop and on the race team.
It's not an easy task, but Starck thinks the pressure and intensity of strapping into the seat provides an odd moment of clarity.
"You close the door (of the race car), and you just hear the engine noise and are on the radio with your crew chief," Starck said. "The hardest part is everything around it, whether you have a customer-driver you have to take care of or until we pack up and leave, our shop is in full swing.
"It gets very challenging, and our goal is to try to have a flow with the series so hopefully the series is on a schedule so we can pretty much help everybody out we work with."
ABOUT Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin: The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world's most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The series is one of Porsche's global single-make Cup Challenge series and is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The series races at classic Canadian road and street courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans. For updates on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, follow @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN and Facebook. The latest news can be found by visiting imsa.com.
ABOUT IMSA: The International Motor Sports Association , LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. IMSA also sanctions two developmental series, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo. IMSA is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.