Despite Not Being Able to Drive at Homestead, Braun Remains a Team Player HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 23 - As a teenage race car driver who has won championships before he could even take the family sedan down the street for a quart of milk, Colin...
Despite Not Being Able to Drive at Homestead, Braun Remains a Team Player
HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 23 - As a teenage race car driver who has won championships before he could even take the family sedan down the street for a quart of milk, Colin Braun is used to overcoming some obstacles that the adult race car drivers he competes against don't face.
The 17-year-old driver from Ovalo, Texas didn't see this one coming, however.
Braun, who shares the lead in the Daytona Prototype driver point standings for the Grand American Rolex Series with one of his co-drivers at Krohn Racing, Joerg Bergmeister, learned yesterday that he won't be able to compete in Saturday's Rolex Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., because he's too young.
Although Braun raced in some events in the series last year and had planned to do the entire schedule in 2006, a problem developed due to contractual agreements between the track, the sanctioning body that will stage races at the same track on Sunday, and a tobacco company that sponsors a prominent team in one of Sunday's races. The tobacco company is committed to being sensitive to young people, and its contracts stipulate there must be no participation by drivers under 18 at any events in which it participates. Those contracts forced track officials to ask Braun to sit this race out, and although Braun has no ties with the other sanctioning body, that team or that sponsor, he will comply.
It is not yet clear if ongoing negotiations will allow Braun to compete in two other events this year where the Rolex Series shares the card with the other sanctioning body. But, with the competition as close as it is in the Rolex Series, Braun's quest for the 2006 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype drivers' championship will in all practicality be over when he misses Saturday's race. Braun and his teammate currently are tied for the point lead out of 107 Daytona Prototype drivers who have participated in the first two of 14 events scheduled for 2006.
Braun is obviously very disappointed, but he continues to show the maturity that has impressed series officials, track officials, sponsors, the media, his teammates and his fellow drivers.
He won't stay home and pout, but will instead be at the track helping his team and the driver who will substitute for him at Homestead, Max Papis.
"I don't really understand all the issues that the tobacco industry must deal with but I do know that a lot of people were trying to work things out so that I could compete at Homestead this weekend," Braun said. "I was going to try my best to have a good finish and earn enough points to maintain my lead in the championship, but it doesn't look like that will happen. All I can do is go on to the next race at Long Beach, Calif., and try my best there. At least I had the point lead before this happened. I don't know of any driver who lost a title due to something like this before. But I've already learned that in racing you just have to regroup from adversity and keep on trying and things will work out for the best in the end, so that's what I'm going to try to do."
Braun said he'll be glad when he's old enough so that his age won't be an issue.
"I'm not old enough to rent a car to get from the airport to the racetrack either," he added, still smiling bravely.