AIM Autosport heads to Newton, Iowa, this week for the first Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race on the new 1.3-mile Iowa Speedway. The team's No. 61 Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI is one of 17 cars entered in the series Daytona Prototype race on ...
AIM Autosport heads to Newton, Iowa, this week for the first Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race on the new 1.3-mile Iowa Speedway. The team's No. 61 Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI is one of 17 cars entered in the series Daytona Prototype race on Friday evening. The short infield road course will be a challenge, but AIM drivers Brian Frisselle of Lynchburg, Va., and Mark Wilkins of Toronto are ready.
"It's a very short track, a lot of cars and not a lot of space. It's going to be tough. Because it's such a short lap, I don't think it will be hard to figure the track out, but it could be difficult from a [car] setup standpoint," Wilkins said. "On such a short track, to make a pass may require being overly aggressive. We're going to try to stay out of trouble, as always, but at the same time, we need to get up to the front and be competitive, so we'll have to push pretty hard."
Brian Frisselle is doing double duty this season, competing in both the Rolex Series and the NASCAR Whelen Late Model Series. He hopes his NASCAR stock-car experience will be of value in this week's Rolex Series sports-car race.
"The stock-car racing has raised my racecraft a little bit because at all moments, you're inches off a guy's bumper and he's inches off your bumper. I feel like the Iowa race is going to be somewhat like that because [the track] is so tight," he said. "Also, I'm sure I'll feel more comfortable on the banking than I have in previous years. Sports cars are more knife-edge and we're going to be carrying a lot of speed in that section of the oval."
AIM's engineers use a number of tools to establish car setups on new tracks. One of the most valuable is a computer program that allows them to input different car settings and simulate track laps. But as data engineer Craig English notes, experience still trumps electronic information.
"We can get an idea of what gears we're going to be in in certain corners, if we're going hit over-rpms on straights. You can play with springs, sway bars, basically all the variables you would have when you get to the race track. Obviously, a bit of hands-on experience is necessary because you have uphills and downhills, where the lap-sim thinks it's just a flat track," he said.
"But you always combine empirical data with collective knowledge and experience. You don't just race by the numbers; you also have to race with some intuition. That's where we have a nice wide range of people with experience here [at AIM] and it works really well."