Birmingham: Bell Motorsports preview

Barber Motorsports Park Offers Close Racing; Kodak EasyShare Team Wants to be There at the End Of Sunday's Rolex Series Race and Duplicate '03 Victory FORT WORTH, July 26 -- A racing motorcycle is approximately 28 inches wide, 80 inches long,...

Barber Motorsports Park Offers Close Racing; Kodak EasyShare Team Wants to be There at the End Of Sunday's Rolex Series Race and Duplicate '03 Victory

FORT WORTH, July 26 -- A racing motorcycle is approximately 28 inches wide, 80 inches long, has a wheelbase of about 63 inches and weighs about 365 pounds.

A Daytona Prototype like the Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Pontiac No. 54 is 79 inches wide, 175 inches long, has a wheelbase of 112 inches and weighs 2,135 pounds.

Barber Motorsports Park's 2.3-mile, 16-turn road course was designed primarily as a world showcase for motorcycle racing. Racing cars on it offers additional challenges. No matter how one does the math, a car's handling characteristics and a driver's patience to wait for the best opportunity to pass will be even more crucial than usual when the Rolex endurance sports car series visits the state-of-the-art facility just east of Birmingham, Ala. this weekend.

Barber Motorsports Park's road course has a very smooth surface and over 80 feet of elevation changes, which will also add to the excitement of Sunday's 400-kilometer Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant race. The most prestigious auto race on the track's 2005 schedule, it will be televised on SPEED beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.

The Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Racing team feels it's up to the challenge with the Kodak EasyShare No. 54, although there will be 19 other Daytona Prototypes in the field offering stiff competition.

The team won this event -- and the subsequent championship -- in May 2003 with Terry Borcheller of Gainesville, Ga. and car owner Forest Barber of Fort Worth behind the wheel. The pair set the race record for this track with a time of 2:45.37.432 to cover 220.8 miles for an average speed of 79.988 mph that day.

The Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Pontiac No. 54 almost won this race last year too. First Borcheller qualified second, just 0.294 of a second off Max Papis's new track record of 1:20.613 (102.713 mph). His co-driver for that race, Christian Fittipaldi, had told Borcheller that he wasn't going to talk to him if he didn't put the car on the front row, so the pressure was on.

The next day Fittipaldi was running third and closing when he spun in the rain with slick tires on just four laps from the finish, making hard contact with the Turn 10 barrier. With a little better luck the team would have been on the podium, and perhaps even on the top step, that day, and it's overdue for some better luck this weekend.

Fittipaldi is in a different car now and Ralf Kelleners and Barber will be Borcheller's co-drivers at Barber Motorsports Park this year.

Kelleners, of Dusseldorf, Germany, will do the set-up work this weekend because Borcheller is also competing in an American Le Mans Series race in Portland, Ore., some 2,065 miles as the crow flies from Birmingham. Borcheller hopes to arrive at Barber Motorsports in time to drive in the warm-up session Sunday at 9:40 a.m. The 250-mile/109-lap/two-hour-and-45-minute race is scheduled to start at noon.

Barber, no relation to the race track, plans to drive the Kodak car during practice sessions this weekend too, and he'll be on hand to drive in the race if Borcheller's travel is delayed. "Maybe I'll steal his wallet or something so I can drive," Barber joked.

The action starts with a test day on Thursday before the official weekend schedule gets underway on Friday. The Daytona Prototypes can practice from 9:40 a.m. until 11:10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. until 2:45 p.m. that day. Another hour of practice is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Saturday, and then an autograph session will be held at 11:30 a.m. Kelleners will qualify the Kodak car in a 15-minute session at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, Feeds the Need's Web site is at feedstheneedracing.com. The Grand American section of Kodak's Web site is at Kodak.com/US/en/consumer/garr/.

Borcheller's Web site is at tborcheller.com and Kelleners' is at kelleners-sport.com. Other interesting information can be found at grandamerican.com, barbermotorsports.com, speedtv.com and restartcommunications.com.

-bms-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Terry Borcheller , Forest Barber