DC's Shorts - Labor Day weekend

DC's SHORTS Just in time for extra, lazy Labor Day reading, these aren't your usual "shorts." DEMPSEY, ESPENLAUB AND FOSTER STEP UP Hyper Sport regulars Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Patrick Dempsey will launch their 2008 ...


DC's SHORTS

Just in time for extra, lazy Labor Day reading, these aren't your usual "shorts."

DEMPSEY, ESPENLAUB AND FOSTER STEP UP

Hyper Sport regulars Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Patrick Dempsey will launch their 2008 Rolex Series' GT effort in the upcoming Sept. 15 Sunchaser 1000k at Toole, Utah's Miller Motorsports Park.

SoBe Beverage, with whom Dempsey partnered in last year's Baja 1000 off-road, will be sponsoring Hyper Sport's Mazda RX-8 GT, which is a considerable departure from their usual Ford Mustang GT effort in the Koni Challenge series.

While the Koni cars are street-based, most of the 2008 GT-class cars aren't. For the most part the GT-class cars are full-on tube frame chassis hung with street-car-like body panels. Hyper Sports' frame comes from Riley -- yep, THAT Riley.

The Hyper Sport organization, which also includes team driver Rick Skelton among its principals, is dead set on making a lasting mark in motorsports.

Though Dempsey more or less is the odd man out - insofar as a deep, active motorsports background is concerned -- don't discount the man's focus on motorsports.

Much to the wide-eyed disbelief of my college-aged daughters, beyond almost an inescapable number of TV teasers I've yet to watch my first minute of "Grey's Anatomy," in which Dempsey co-stars (among other acting efforts) when he isn't racing or being a family man.

Just like a lot of people in the racing business, Dempsey's professional success has allowed him to put some "seed money" into what he and his associates see as a business enterprise.

As a businessman, Dempsey is intent on making that enterprise work while, as a driver, he tests himself on the track - just like the rest of us likely would if given enough success in our own profession.

The man's pretty intense and only getting better.

ALSO DEBUTING AT THE SUNCHASER

Though Kevin Doran's been largely absent from the Rolex Series' stage since June's Mid-Ohio EMCO Gears Classic he hasn't been just sitting around.

Though nothing official's been announced, Doran has pretty well paved the way for race car-maker Dallara's passage into the Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype car class.

The Italian-based outfit, in which Doran will be actively involved stateside, joins Lola and longtime series' standard-bearers Crawford, FABCAR and Riley as the series' approved 2008 chassis builders for the beginning of the DP-class' second five-year plan. (Chase Engineering is in the mix somewhere, but exactly where remains to be seen.)

Sunchaser attendees will get a "preview of coming attractions" when Doran unveils his 2008 Dallara at the Sept. 15 race, even though Doran will quickly say his No. 77 Ford-powered car only has been "updated" for the race "and isn't new."

We'll see.

Already having more than a few endurance race wins to his credit, Doran could prominently figure in the Sunchaser 1000k's top-5, if not for a "don't say it's new" car's likely teething problems.

(Speaking of teething and gears, did you know the automated doors you walked through today likely had EMCO Gears pulling them?)

"HOT" NEW ENGINE

What newly approved eight-cylinder, DP-class engine originated with a successful German sportscar manufacturer whose history goes all the way back to Prof. Dr. h.c. Ferdinand Porsche?

Recently getting Grand American's seal of approval, the German-born engine will debut in a 2008 FABCAR chassis that, under Eddie Cheever, has been going ever faster in a resurgence that's put many a recent smile on FABCAR-founder Dave Klym's face.

Already inserted and tested in another DP team's car, as of now the engine isn't destined for Cheever's No. 39 Royal Crown's engine bay.

(C'mon, you guys need to figure out at least some of this stuff for yourselves.)

THE BIG RED ONE

The above "one" being more a reference to Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney's new points position rather than to the number borne on its outside, Bob Stallings' blood-red No. 99 Gainsco Insurance Pontiac-Riley certainly is on a roll.

(At this point, one can easily envision Stan Laurel saying to Oliver Hardy, "It certainly is.")

Unless these 99 guys are the craftiest gang since that of the U.K.'s Great Train Robbery, the 99's gains are hardly ill gotten.

All being witnessed by your intrepid motorsports journalist, here's a short list as to why:

At Iowa's final pre-qualifying practice session, Rolex Series officials just up and took the 99's ECU and accompanying wiring harness, exchanging it for the same from another Pontiac-powered team.

And, no, the 99 didn't get to replace it by fetching a new ECU/harness from the Gainsco trailer: the 99 was forced (it didn't have a choice) to use the other car's ECU/harness for qualifying, during which Fogarty nevertheless qualified fastest -- actually going faster than in practice while using the other team's wiring setup.

Already in the mix was a third Pontiac harness, which the 99 used for the race it eventually won.

Before that, after its runaway win at the EMCO Gears' Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the team spent that post-race evening tearing down its engine at the command and under the watchful eyes of Rolex Series officials. Tested for everything except communicable diseases, the 99's engine was pure.

The 99's drive train, along with those of other highly competitive DP teams, has likewise been scrutinized, even to the point of Rolex officials one time swooping down and demanding post-race gearbox teardowns.

Last Friday at Infineon Raceway, Rolex Series inspectors again rang everyone's bell -- and this time it was EVERY DP team -- by confiscating each team's shock-absorbers, dismounted directly from each car's four corners, following the last practice session prior to qualifying.

Taking them back to the Rolex Series' command-central hauler, they were so thoroughly examined that at one point it appeared Rolex Series inspectors were even about to break out some latex gloves and petroleum jelly.

And, forget the "They can change the MAPS from a laptop on pit road." While such can be done, it's elsewhere; not in the Rolex paddock, where Bosch's engineers have taken considerable pride in coming up with countering measures.

As incredible a run as the 99 has had so far in 2007, it's actually been very credible in every respect, from the pit crew right on through to the drivers.

There's at least one thing in which fellow racers can take comfort: Fogarty's record-setting qualifying effort -- nine, count 'em, nine inside poles - is over. That is, unless Stallings follows some airhead journalist's advice to let Fogarty attempt an even more unapproachable record 10 poles at Miller Motorsports Park's Sunchaser qualifying.

Then again, Stallings isn't exactly hurting for a darn-good qualifier in Gurney.

Furthermore, Stallings hasn't so far once listened to that airhead reporter's advice, except perhaps that offered about baseball caps.

There's so much going on right now that I'll have to boor you in another future Shorts installment, coming soon but still . . .

Later.

-Written Exclusively for Motorsport.com by DC Williams

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Eddie Cheever , Jon Fogarty , Charles Espenlaub , Kevin Doran , Bob Stallings , Joe Foster , Patrick Dempsey
Teams Williams