DAYTONA BEACH —Wright Motorsports/Snow Racing’s UIS Porsche GT3 Cup No. 62 led the Grand Touring (GT) division two different times and went on to finish 11th out of 34 cars in the division Sunday at the 51st annual Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
The entry was a combined effort of Wright Motorsports of Batavia, Ohio, near Cincinnati, and Snow Racing of Pleasant Grove, Utah. Its driver line-up included the first mother and son co-drivers in the event's history: Melanie Snow of Lehi, Utah and her son Madison, who at 17 was the youngest driver in the race. Their teammates were Porsche veterans Sascha Maassen of Lontzen, Belgium and Marco Seefried of Wemding, Germany and Porsche junior driver Klaus Bachler of Unzmarkt, Austria.
Maassen has competed in this event before — including a podium finish with Wright Motorsports in 2009 — but the other four drivers were making their first Rolex 24 appearances. Bachler had never even been to the United States before he got the opportunity to compete in the marque event of the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
They all drove like veterans, however, and were excellent brand ambassadors for UIS, Porsche Motorsports North America and Bilstein Shocks, among other companies. The effort’s primary sponsor, Universal Industrial Sales (UIS), is among the largest suppliers of overhead sign structures and fabricated highway products in the country.
Maassen and Bachler were at the wheel when the car paced the GT field. Seefried set the team’s fastest lap of the race on lap 484 with a time of 1:48.638 and an average speed of 117.970 miles per hour, despite a slick, dirty track.
Madison Snow took the checkered in 11th place in class and 19th overall in the 57-car field.
The race was the first of three events in the North American Endurance Championship presented by VisitFlorida.com. The others are the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen, N.Y., June 28-30 and the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard July 24-26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Both Madison and Melanie Snow were part of Wright Motorsports’ record-setting season in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohoma last year. The team finished first, second and third in the driver point standings and it won the team championship and Rookie of the Year award in that series. It won 11 of the 15 races and had 27 podium finishes and 12 poles in that all-Porsche series last year.
Additional information on Wright Motorsports can be found on the team’s website at wrightmotorsports.com, its Facebook page and through Twitter. Snow Racing’s website is at snow-ahead.com. The series’ website is at grand-am.com.
Klaus Bachler: “For me it was a really good experience at the 24 Hours at Daytona. John and his guys worked really hard and we had a really good car, and I thank them for that. We were able to fight with the best cars in our class and I think if we hadn’t had the bad luck in the night I am quite sure that we would have been on the lead lap at the end. I want to say thank you to Martin and Melanie for their commitment and also Porsche Motorsport for the opportunity to drive in my first 24-hour race. What a better place to do this than Daytona!”
Sascha Maassen: “I personally think that John Wright and Snow Racing prepared a good car for us. We were running very strong in the beginning. But a 24-hour race is about not having to spend time in the pits, and a problem made us stop too long in the pits. Still, with three rookies on our team we proved that experience is important, but it does not have to be every driver. One old driver is enough!”
Marco Seefried: “I agree with Sascha. We had two problems that cost us too much time, but there is nobody to blame for this; such things happen. All the drivers stayed out of trouble and kept the car on track in one piece. The team did a real good job, and we had a competitive car.”
Madison Snow: “The race was good. I'm glad we finished because that was half the battle. The sad thing for me is that we were doing so well, and then I woke up to find out we had problems in the night.
“The thing that surprised me the most is how well the car stayed together and how little damage we accumulated throughout the race; just a little bump on the driver’s side was it. I just feel it's very good to finish, because it was my first 24-hour race and we did what we could, though we knew we had such a great car it should have been even better.”
Melanie Snow: “That was an experience of a lifetime! There were so many highs and lows, and so many emotions going on throughout the entire 24 hours. Madison and I were so lucky to be able to drive our first 24 Hours of Daytona together and make history doing it. But we were even luckier to have been accompanied by the best co-drivers: Sascha, Marco and Klaus. They were amazing. They all drove so well, or should I say we all drove so well. But more importantly we had fun together and learned so much from this experience.
“Wright Motorsports prepared the UIS-sponsored Porsche for us and they did an outstanding job. We had one of the best cars out there; we just didn't have the luck to go with it. With the field being so competitive, the little mechanicals that we did have cost us dearly. We kept our heads in the game and continued to dig deep until the end. It was the last two laps that we gained another position back and ended up finishing 11th.
“A big thank you goes out to the entire Wright Motorsports/Snow Racing crew for doing such a great job for us. They not only worked for 24 hours straight to keep us rolling out on the track, but they also made us a family. When you work that hard together and are up for over 24 hours straight together in such an intense environment you build a bond. Our crew and drivers bonded and we are a family.
“Thank you to everyone and especially Martin and UIS for supporting Madison and I through this entire experience. It is one I will cherish forever. Madison, you did an outstanding job and I couldn't be prouder, as a mother and a teammate. I know you will rise to the top; your time will come and you will be on that podium in victory lane at Daytona.”