Friday Notes from the Paddock

Just before Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced the formation of their second Lexus/Riley entry sponsored by CompUSA for the balance of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, driver Max Papis had another announcement to ...

Just before Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced the formation of their second Lexus/Riley entry sponsored by CompUSA for the balance of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, driver Max Papis had another announcement to make.

What started as a friendship around the turn of the century will become a more permanent affiliation for "Mad Max' sometime this year. He and Tatiana Fittipaldi have announced their formal engagement and will be married during 2004.

The duo have been living together in the Miami area for about two years; Fittipaldi is the daughter of Emerson Fittipaldi, the two-time FIA Formula One champion, double Indianapolis 500 and one-time Champ Car titleholder.

And another Fittipaldi/Papis venture will bear fruition this week: Tatiana's brother Jayson is the designer of Papis' newly revamped website: www.maxpapis.com, which will launch during the Rolex 24 weekend.

The Grand American Road Racing Association is touting its growing group of partners during the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series season. GARRA president Roger Edmondson released the sponsor lineup today during a mid-day press conference and noted the addition of three important partners to the mix.

After discovering the Unocal was leaving the motorsports arena, Grand American has added the services of Sunoco for a 10-year commitment as fuel supplier. Under the new agreement, Sunoco will provide fuels to the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup series entrants.

Serving as sponsor for the Watkins Glen round in 2003, Sahlen Packing Company has increased its participation in the Grand American series as sponsor of the Sahlen's Paddock Club and supplier of the "official hot dog of the Grand American series." In a three-year pact, the Sahlen's Paddock Club will serve as a gathering place for competitors to relax and rejuvenate with prepared meals using Sahlen's meat products.

Saving the more expansive announcement for last, Edmondson announced that Sun Trust Banks, in addition to sponsoring their Pontiac Riley entry driven by veteran Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard, the financial group has become the Official Bank of the Grand American Sports Car Series.

In fact, Sun Trust will provide specialized financial services to the entire motorsports industry, as it has in the music business for about 15 years. Sun Trust will also provide a contingency award program for all Rolex Series teams with its "Improve your Position" award for the entry in all classes - Daytona Prototype, GT and SGS - for the team that makes the greatest advance from official starting to official finishing positions.

As the official bank for all of the Rolex series, Sun Trust has established Sun Trust Motorsports Private Banking, which will provide specialized banking services to the motorsports community. For racers who get a blank stare when looking for commitment from their financial providers, this Sun Trust entry in the motorsports field will give people a knowledgeable financial services provider.

Grand American Road Racing Association has many valuable returning partners during its 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series season. After signing a long-term agreement in 2001, Rolex Watch USA confirmed it will again present Rolex Sports Car Series champions with its coveted, specially engraved, steel and gold Daytona Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Rolex watch at the series' annual award ceremony.

Racing Radios, based in Georgia has confirmed its commitment to Grand American for this year and will continue its sponsorship through 2006. Since it became the racing communications arm of Diversified Electronics in 1979, Racing Radios has worked with clients in all forms of motorsports.

Now entering its second century, Ford Motor Co. has become an integral part of the Grand American Road Racing Association's team and serves as official vehicle and pace car for the Rolex and Grand-Am Cup Series during the 2004 season. Utilizing a Ford Mustang Cobra R and Ford focus SVT, Ford Racing has expanded its commitment to race fans and all Ford customers with this alliance.

A world leader in customer information management solutions, Acxiom Corp. begins its second season as title sponsor of the Grand Touring division of the Rolex Sports Car Series. The Acxiom Grand Touring Challenge provides more than $70,000 in awards to competitors in the GT and SGS classes through its partnership. The company's forte is its analysis of customer databases, identification of the best strategies for optimal customer and information management, evaluation of capabilities and resources, and maximizing client relationships.

Goodyear Tire & rubber company continues as the sole supplier of tires for the Rolex Sports Car Series' Daytona Prototypes, keeping with the company's long-founded racing heritage that stretches back to the earliest days of motorsports.

Dunlop Tyres ltd., a subsidiary of Goodyear is the exclusive tire provider for the Rolex Sports Car Series GT class.

Hoosier Racing Tires, the largest race tire manufacturer in the world for all types of competition - from dirt tracks to drag racing, oval and road racing - continues itsw support of the Grand-Am Cup Series as official tire manufacturer and sole supplier of both the Grand Sport and Sport Touring classes. Hoosier has also joined the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2004 as exclusive tire of the Super Grand Sport class.

Coca-Cola Company continues as supplier to the Grand American Road Racing Association, as does Zippo Manufacturing, which sponsors Zippo Live Timing & Scoring provided during all Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup events. The scoring system can be seen on Grand American's official website: www.grandamerican.com.

All Grand American officials are outfitted at the track in Stand 21 fire suits and outerwear, as the French-based manufacturer of racing apparel and accessories enters its 30th year.

Featherlite Trailers, a dealer in the design, manufacturing and marketing of high quality aluminum specialty trailers has inked a new agreement with GARRA that will see its products used exclusively by Grand American technical officials as their central race-side offices during the 2004 season.

The logistics that go into putting a race car on the track and drivers in the car becomes a lot more complicated when it's a twice around the clock operation. New Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series team Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is going the extra length to make sure the drivers in their #01 CompUSA Lexus/Riley Daytona Prototype wants to make sure its three drivers are fresh for each stint.

To that effect, the team has hired Jim Leo, president of PitFit Training to help the four drivers survive the 24-hour ordeal. Taking pole position in their first Grand American race, Scott Pruett, Max Papis, Jimmy Morales and Scott Dixon have to compete for hours on end and need relaxation when they're not on the Daytona International Speedway 3.56-mile combined road/oval circuit.

As this is Leo's first time working a 24-hour race, Pruett is giving him an idea of what he'll be expected to do in the pits and at the team's hospitality suite. Leo has set up his massage table and is ready from that angle, but Pruett advised the fitness expert that there's more to this gig than he thought.

One of the most important things Leo must do is make sure the drivers are stripped of their wet driving apparel and into dry. They'll have a pair of suits to swap out during the ordeal, with the appropriate underwear, as well. He needs to find out what type of fluids to administer and what each driver needs to keep them properly hydrated and fed. Leo said he expected to learn a great deal about the human body's endurance during the long weekend, including his own.

Former sports car standout Michael Keyser, who once competed in his own Toad Hall Racing Porsche cars, made one of the best racing movies ever back in the 1970s, "The Speed Merchants." Although retired from driving, the creative Keyser still keeps his hand in the sport and has come up with one of the more ingenuous ideas in racing communication: the eaRadio.

This tiny piece of equipment is just what everyone involved in the sport needs in the pits to listen to the action from the track. Using the transmission from a track's PA system, media, team members and fans can find out what's going on around the circuit as it occurs.

A lanyard fits around the neck and an arm swings the unit to cup the ear. The foam pad keeps the sound pure and the eaRadio also has a good and loud volume control, making it perfect for its intended use. There's space on the radio cover for sponsor logos, making it the perfect promotional gift.

Keyser is marketing the eaRadio through the website: www.earadio.net

Paul Newman, the 79-year-old acting and racing legend isn't the only actor partaking the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend. Adrian Paul, star of the popular and long-running Highlander( syndicated show will have his program featured on the #24 Cauley Corvette GTR in tomorrow's race.

Paul will also drive the authentic Highlander Sweepstakes Thunderbird that was featured in the original show during the ceremonial Historic Sports Car Race that precedes the endurance classic. Paul will announce the winner of the highlander: Season Two DVD sweepstakes and present the keys to the car before taking the winner for a parade lap around the 3.56-mile Daytona track.

The high-octane endeavor will promote the DVD release of his show and also generate exposure for Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, both programs produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment & Davis- Anderson Merchandising Corp. Theirs is the only entertainment sponsor program at this year's Rolex 24.

Among the veterans in this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is Wayne Taylor, driving the #10 Sun Trust Racing Pontiac Riley. This event is notable for Taylor in that it will be his 24th time competing in a 24-hour event. After qualifying outside the front row in provisional time trials yesterday, Taylor is ready to take on the 24/24 challenge.

Despite the short lead time to prepare his new Pontiac-powered Riley, a new design which was barely in the works when Taylor's Sun Trust partners anted up for the season, the team is confident they're up to the challenge.

The South African ace did his first twice-around-the-clock race in 1987 and won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1996. He's hoping start #24 will net a second win in Florida for him, teammates Max Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series GRANDAM