JUPITER, Fla., Monday, March 11, 2002 - Sebring International Raceway's turn-10 will again be ablaze with "GO SHANE, GO!!!" banners in 2002 as Shane Lewis has agreed to pilot the ...
JUPITER, Fla., Monday, March 11, 2002 - Sebring International Raceway's turn-10 will again be ablaze with "GO SHANE, GO!!!" banners in 2002 as Shane Lewis has agreed to pilot the #45 American Viperacing (AVR) Dodge Viper GTS-R at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Dodge on March 16th. Lewis, of Jupiter, Florida, competed with the team in four American Le Mans Series (ALMS) events in 2001 earning a second-place at Portland and three other top-five finishes. Lewis will be the lead driver with Rick Fairbanks co-driving.
"This is an important race to me. very important," remarked Lewis. "Any race at this track is special and taking part in the 50th Anniversary of the biggest sports car race in North America is a very big deal. I am thrilled to be a part of this historic event and I am looking forward to putting 110% out there. The Fan Club has been getting ready for this since last March. The pieces are there to make this a great Sebring!"
Lewis' success at Sebring has earned him a huge following at the event. The Shane Lewis Fan Club has grown into a major national and international organization since its inception several years ago. Members of the club, which can be easily spotted with their trademark "GO SHANE, GO!!!" banners hoisted high overhead, have appeared at events from Le Mans to Sears Point in support of their favorite driver. However, Sebring was where it all started and members have been camping in line for weeks to grab the desired piece of real estate in Sebring's turn-10 for this weekend's event. When the checkered flag falls at 10:30 pm on Saturday a small community will be cheering Lewis on.
"Having this kind of support is just awesome," remarked Lewis with a mixture of awe, pride and slight embarrassment from the attention. "It blows my mind really! It is just incredible to know they are cheering for you every lap, all twelve hours! That kind of thing makes even the most grueling endurance race fly by."
"We had several good deals we were working on for the last several weeks," offered Lewis on the late decision to race the red, white and black Viper. "Rick and I had been talking and I was also in discussion with a couple of LMP teams. Rick really won me over with his enthusiasm for the program they have planned out for the season. AVR is working very hard on this car. We'll be developing it over the whole season and the challenge of doing that was very intriguing to me. By the end of the season you'll see an all-new Viper on the track and it is exciting to take a solid car and work it into something really special. The whole American Viperacing team is just so enthusiastic about me being in the car. I have to say that makes it pretty exciting for me also."
"Sebring is a tough track and you have to make the most out of your equipment," continued Lewis looking ahead to the ALMS season-opener. "The Viper has a long history of performance and durability. That is what it takes to put you in a position to win. The overwhelming enthusiasm from the Fan Club and the AVR guys has got me even more excited than usual. I am looking forward to this!"
Shane Lewis has been racing since 1989. He is the 1998 Professional Sports Car Rising Star award winner and has multiple race wins in the IMSA Supercar and SCCA Pro series. Lewis has American Le Mans Series' podium finishes at Silverstone and Nurburgring and is a former Daytona Endurance Champion. He has driven in 16 24-hour races including two 24 Hours of Le Mans, six 24 Hours of Daytona and has two overall and one class-victory at the 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges.