Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing -- It's All About The People
LAS VEGAS, November 24, 2003 -- In a sport best known for high-tech machines, one team recognizes that their Porsche 911 GT3 RS, while a remarkable automobile, cannot prepare or drive itself. Success comes from the effort put behind the machine. That's where the group of people that Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has assembled separates it from others that focus more on the technical than the human resources. 2003 marked Petersen/White Lightning's most successful sports car racing season to-date. The Las Vegas-based race team worked with Alex Job Racing (AJR) to win the LM GT class at the prestigious 24 Heures Du Mans in June. Proving that the Mike Petersen-owned and Dale White-managed team was up to the task of winning against the factory-supported AJR effort, they won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) round at Road America in GT class. Until an early accident ended the team's day while fighting for the lead at the ALMS season-closing Petit Le Mans, the No. 31 Westward Ho Casino/MMPIE/PAWS/XtraJet/Justice Brother's Porsche had finished inside the top-five in class in every event the team entered in 2003. Despite not attending three races, the driving duo of Johnny Mowlem, of Warfield, England and Craig Stanton, Long Beach, Calif., finished ninth in the final points chase for drivers one point out of eighth with 73 markers. The race team, directed by lead technician Kent Moore, finished the season as the third highest GT privateer entrant, fourth of all the GT class entries. The Petersen/White Lightning team's success in '03 helped to win Porsche and Michelin their respective manufacturers' titles as well.
"The 2003 season has now come to the end and what a wild ride it was!" reflected Petersen. "We started the year with a second at Sebring and just a few more minutes and we would have beaten Alex (Job Racing)! We went to Le Mans and, with some luck, won our fist time over there. In Wisconsin we got our first [ALMS] victory for the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing team and it was great to have the whole team there to celebrate with us as not all of them could be at Le Mans! The Petit Le Mans is a race we love-- or is it? After running up front for the first hour we were making a pass for the lead when we were punted off. Watching the car clobber the wall down the straight was very hard for us all as we knew we were out. We have the hardest working crew. We are all like family. It was so hard for us all for it to end this way. With the good things that happened throughout the year we had to hold our heads up high with the good results we achieved as a team. I would like to thank the team; without all of their hard work and long hours we would not be the threat that we always are. Johnny and Craig really rose to the occasion when we needed it. I also want to thank Dale for making things work so smoothly and running this team with me first as a friend then as a partner! To all of the other sponsors that made this all possible and thank you to Porsche and Michelin for making terrific products. Last but not the least, thank you Mom for making so many of my dreams come true. I can never thank you enough!"
Showing that racing is the ultimate team sport, Petersen/White Lightning has utilized the skills of dozens of team members to support the primary staff. The list of key members of the team over the course of the 2003 ALMS season included: Petersen, White, Moore, Mowlem, Stanton, and team engineer Harry Haggard. Technicians Nico Castellaccio, Dennis Chizma, Chris Manfredi, Pat Williams, Darrin Rudicil, truck driver Sam Andrus and team tire technician Bill Raifsnyder maintained the car throughout the year. The team's web site, PetersenMotorsports.com, was designed and maintained by Andrew Salas.
Dale White, Petersen Motorsports' team manager and owner of White Lightning, based the season less on the win-loss column and more on the results of the team members. "We have a great group of dedicated individuals that all want to be the best. Rewards for our group come from doing well and they all have the desire to win, you couldn't ask for anything more than that."
Opening the season, Sweden's Nic Jonsson joined Mowlem and Stanton at the 12 Hours of Sebring finishing second in class after starting third. The team, focusing on Le Mans, opted to miss the second round of the ALMS season at Road Atlanta, returning for the Sonoma, Calif. race at Infineon Raceway starting third and finishing fifth. The former off-road championship team stayed home for the two Canadian-rounds of the season before bringing the yellow, white and red car to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. There, the No. 31 started fifth on its way to the team's first ALMS class victory in an exciting battle between Porsche and Ferrari. Moving on to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the effort started third and finished in that position. The penultimate round of the season on the Miami street course scored the team yet another top-five-- a fourth-place finish starting from third on the grid. That brought the team to the 10 Hour or 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta for the season finale. Fighting for top-three honors in both the GT driver and the team championships, the team started sixth after a wet qualifying session and finished against the super-fast turn-12 wall shortly after one hour of competition. The accident, which occurred while fighting for the class lead, dropped the team to 17th in class at the end of the race marking its lowest finish, and only finish outside the top-five, in 2003.
"Of the three years I've driven for Mike and Dale, 2003 was without a doubt our most successful," said two-time ALMS winner Mowlem. "The Road America win was obviously our highlight, but I'm also pleased that we showed throughout the whole year, in both qualifying and the race, that we could be extremely competitive. Given what we had at our disposal, I think it is a testament to everyone involved that we always raced in the top-three, and only failed to qualify in the top-three on two occasions. The fact that we went into the final round fighting for second in GT despite missing three races, shows that the team was the real deal and thoroughly deserved its success."
Stanton reviewed the season in his usual laidback, California way; "The team gained a lot of momentum throughout the season. We all came together. I really enjoyed working with the guys this season. Porsche and Michelin gave us an incredible car to start with and the whole team put out just an amazing effort every weekend to give us an edge. It was a real honor to work with Mike, Dale, Harry, Johnny and the guys. Sports car racing is gaining momentum, which I think is awesome. The fans have been great this year. I really appreciate all of their support and I'm looking forward to racing next season with Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing."
Extensive plans are underway for the 2004 season. While later announcements will confirm sponsorship, driver line-up and anticipated schedule, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing is motivated to achieve the team's highest success to date in the American Le Mans Series. To that end, the team just completed a move into a larger preparation facility in Las Vegas to further strengthen the charge for a season championship. One key fact will never change at Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, however. The team and its success will always be all about the people.
For more, please visit www.PetersenMotorsports.com.