Central Florida drivers look for win in Daytona finale

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2001) -- Several Central Florida drivers and teams from both the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series will look to score a victory next week in the Grand-Am Finale at Daytona International ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2001) -- Several Central Florida drivers and teams from both the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series will look to score a victory next week in the Grand-Am Finale at Daytona International Speedway. Although ending the 2001 season with a win at Daytona would be a high note for most teams and drivers, winning in front of the home crowd would make it extra sweet for this group of competitors.

Daytona Beach Area Flis Motorsports Team X-1R (Rolex Series)
The Daytona Beach-based Flis Motorsports Team X-1R enters the Grand-Am Finale hoping to not only take home a victory in their hometown, but also wrap up both the team and driver championships in the American GT class. The team's last appearance at Daytona International Speedway was a dramatic one at the 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team earned an AGT podium finish at the Rolex 24, despite its #09 Camaro nearly being destroyed during the race. Although it had hardly any bodywork at the end of the famous endurance race, the X-1R Camaro crossed the finish line second in the AGT class.

The team retired the war-torn Camaro after that race and has successfully campaigned a Corvette C5 this season. After scoring victories at six out of the nine Rolex Series races completed this season, both Team X-1R and its drivers, Ormond Beach's Craig Conway and Doug Goad, of Farmington, Hills, Mich., are close to clinching the team and driver championships. The team holds an 18-point lead over South Florida-based Hamilton Safe Motorsports, while Conway holds a one-point lead over Goad in the team standings. Hamilton Safe's Kenny Bupp, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is in third, 22 points back. With some creative race strategy, Team X-1R could see its pair of drivers tie for the AGT driver championship. But, that would mean the X-1R Corvette could not win the AGT pole, which has been its starting position for four races this season. All eyes will be on the X-1R Corvette during Friday's qualifying to see which strategy the team uses.

Blackforest Motorsports Group (Rolex Series)
After building cars that have won at the Indy 500 and 12 Hours of Sebring, Deland's Bryan Nott has turned his focus to the Rolex Series. Nott is the principal of Blackforest Motorsports Group, which will make its debut in the SportsRacing Prototype class at the Grand-Am Finale. The team purchased the #28 Ford-powered Riley & Scott from the Intersport Racing Banana Joe's team earlier this year. After undergoing painstaking refreshment and updating, the Riley & Scott will debut its new Eran South Corporation paint scheme at the Grand-Am Finale.

A pair of Floridians will be behind the wheel of the Riley & Scott when it takes to the track at Daytona International Speedway. Peter Argetsinger, of Weston, and Allan Ziegelman, of Boca Raton, will share driving duties at the Finale. Argetsinger has raced professionally for 26 years and has more than 300 professional race starts under his belt, due in part to his father's active role in racing including the establishment of racing in Watkins Glen.

Motorsport Technologies (Grand-Am Cup)
Deland-based Motorsports Technologies will run three cars in three different classes at the six-hour Grand-Am Cup race on Saturday, Sept. 15. The team's #15 Porsche TT will race in the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class with team owner Dino Stiener and Kissimee's Ian James, while Steiner's father, Johannes Steiner, of Naples, and Dave Russell, of Orlando, will run the #112 BMW M3 in the Grand Sport (GS) class.

The team recently added a third race car to its lineup that competes in the Compact 2000 (C2K) class. Deltona's Toto Lassally will drive the #21 Acura Integra GSR with two co-drivers that have yet to be determined. Motorsport Technologies is currently second in the SGS team championship race, with Steiner third in the class driver championship standings.

Orlando Area Miracle Motorsports (Rolex Series)
Winter Haven's John Macaluso, owner and operator of the Miracle Auto Dealerships, stepped up from driver to team owner this year with the inception of Miracle Motorsports in mid-March. The team has campaigned the majority of the 2001 season in the SportsRacing Prototype class. While still getting their feet wet as a new team, they suffered a major set back at only their second race, the Six Hours of The Glen, when their #6 Serta Ford-powered Riley & Scott was involved in a horrendous collision with a Porsche. After losing nearly all its bodywork, leaving only the tub intact, driver Brent Sherman, of North Barrington, Ill., emerged from the wreckage uninjured.

The team was forced to sit out the next two races while rebuilding the car, but returned to the Rolex Series with determination. Veteran driver Ross Bentley, of White Rock, British Columbia, joined the team this season in its quest for a podium finish. After its terrible incident at Watkins Glen in May, the Miracle team returned to the historic road course with its slogan 'It's a Miracle' painted across the front of the race car. Any bad karma the team had about the track was quickly erased when it scored its best finish of the season, fourth-place overall. The #6 Serta machine is currently on display at DAYTONA USA for fans to get an up-close and personal look at a prototype before it takes to the track for the Grand-Am Finale.

Speedsource (Grand-Am Cup)
Orlando's Paul Mears Jr., teamed up with Pompano Beach's Sylvain Tremblay this season in the development of the Speedsource team, which raced six Porsches in the Grand-Am Cup SGS, GS and ST classes. After two years of running in SCCA, Mears moved up to the Grand-Am Cup Series with the Speedsource team this season. Speedsource has enjoyed tremendous success this season with 14 podium finishes, including eight class wins and an overall victory. Mears raced in both the team's GS and SGS Porsches and was a frequent visitor to the podium this year.

Mears is well known in the Orlando area for his Mears Transportation Group, which was started in 1939 when his father purchased three taxicabs. Mears expanded the company in 1983 to include shuttle vans and buses, and today the Mears Transportation Group comprises more than 500 taxicabs, 130 shuttle vans, 145 luxury sedans, 170 buses and 12 stretch limousines.

Additional Central Florida Drivers

Randy Pobst, Melbourne (Rolex Series) -- After his last race at Daytona International Speedway, Melbourne's Randy Pobst walked away with a brand new Rolex on his wrist after winning the 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona GT class. Pobst hopes his luck will continue in Daytona at the Grand-Am Finale, where he will co-drive the #15 Crazy Redhead Racing Porsche GT3 RS with Kim Hiskey, of Monroe, Wash. Pobst's Rolex 24 victory came with the White Lightning Racing team, but he paired up with Hiskey after she purchased a new Porsche to race. The duo won the GT class at the Crazy Redhead car's debut race, the Sun Automotive 200 in Phoenix. The pair repeated their success at the Road America 500 in July.

Tommy Byrne, Crescent City (Rolex Series) -- Tommy Byrne's last appearance at Daytona International Speedway was short lived. The #42 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 RS he was scheduled to race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona retired with engine failure after only 37 laps. Despite the bad start to the season, he and car owner/co-driver Richard Millman, of McLean, Va., earned their first podium finish of the season in August at the Bully Hill Vineyards 250 at Watkins Glen, with third place. The pair hopes to return to the podium at the Grand-Am Finale.

Tom Houk, Orlando(Grand-Am Cup) -- Tom Houk will travel eastward from Orlando to Daytona International Speedway to race in Saturday's Grand-Am Cup six-hour race. Houk will join John Kohler, of Bradford, Pa., and Vic Rice, of San Rafael, Calif., in the #17 Zippo Mustang Cobra R racing in the GS class. Houk has run in Grand-Am Cup the entire season, with his best finish coming at Phoenix International Raceway -- fourth place in the GS class. Houk also picked up a fifth-place class finish at Watkins Glen International.

Scooter Gabel, Tampa (Rolex Series & Grand-Am Cup) -- Scooter Gabel will pull double duty at the Grand-Am Finale, racing in both the Grand-Am Cup race on Saturday, Sept. 15, and the Rolex Series race on Sunday, Sept. 16. Gabel will co-drive the First Action Motorsports Porsche in the ST class of the Grand-Am Cup race. He will then move over to the Rolex Series GT class in Schultheis Racing's #92 Foreign Affairs Motorsports/CigarCigar.com-sponsored Porsche GT3 RS. Gabel has raced in three Grand-Am Cup races this season, earning fourth in class at Daytona and Trois-Rivières.

Charles Espenlaub, Lutz (Grand-Am Cup) -- Charles Espenlaub will co-drive the #110 Powell Motorsports/Encompass Corvette Z06 in the Grand-Am Cup SGS class at the Grand-Am Finale. The Lutz resident will share driving duties with Rollie Stephenson, of Appleton, Wis., and Frank DelVeccio, of Trumbull, Conn. Espenlaub's only other appearance in the Grand-Am Cup series this season was also at Daytona, where he finished 19th in the GS class in February.

Mark Hein, Clearwater (Grand-Am Cup) -- Mark Hein will race in his first Grand-Am Cup race of the season at the Grand-Am Finale. The Clearwater resident will team up with Rafael Navarro, of San Francisco, and Jason Piscelli, of Front Royal, Va., in The Spirit of Miami's #9 Acura Integra R, which will race in the ST class.

Jim King, Malabar (Rolex Series) -- Jim King will drive in his first Rolex Series race of the season at the Grand-Am Finale. The Malabar resident will co-drive Brutal Performance Racing's #94 CarRevolution.com/Streetwise/BG Products-sponsored Oldsmobile Cutlass in the American GT class. Sharing driving duties with King will be Pompano Beach's Henry Van Vurst.

Additional information about the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup -Street Stock Series can be found online at www.grand-am.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Randy Pobst , Ian James , Doug Goad , Craig Conway , Brent Sherman , John Macaluso , Sylvain Tremblay , Charles Espenlaub , Scooter Gabel , Paul Mears Jr. , John Kohler , Dave Russell , Kenny Bupp , Allan Ziegelman , Vic Rice , Richard Millman , Mark Hein , Peter Argetsinger , Tommy Byrne , Toto Lassally , Rafael Navarro