For the first time in series history, the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series utilized the mammoth Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis today to introduce new teams and engines for the upcoming 2005 season.
Primary among the revelations is the news that Menard Engineering Ltd. (MEL) and Nissan's Infiniti brand have joined the other major players currently involved with Grand American racing.
Utilizing the Q45 engine platform which it also supplies the Indy Racing League's Menards Infiniti Pro Series ladder program, MEL has adapted and already tested the VK45 32-valve V8, 4.35-liter power mill that has multi- plane crank and bucket tappets. Per Grand Am rules, the engine makes 500 horsepower.
"About a year ago we decided to enter the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and chose the Q45 as the best 'out of the box' starting point," noted Chris Sumner, executive director of MEL. "Our experience with the Menards Infiniti Pro Series certainly helped us and we have found the Grand Am officials' fair approach to our ongoing development extremely helpful," he said.
While designed in the United Kingdom, engines are being built and will be serviced through MEL's Indianapolis shops, This shop has been building engines for NASCAR Busch Series programs and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, in addition to its Menards Infiniti Pro Series work.
The new engine is being fitted to a Doran chassis for its first on-circuit test, which will take place December 18th at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Hyper Sport, a young entity that began last year in Grand Am Cup competition.
Team principal Bruce Ashman said the team has spent the last 7-8 months preparing for the announcement and is looking forward to receiving its first chassis in south Florida. The initial Hyper Sport Doran/Infiniti will be driven in all 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series races by owners Rick Skelton, Brad Nyberg and Joe Foster.
A second chassis is on order for either the second or third race of the season and will be run by drivers to be named at a later date. Ashman said the Norcross, GA outfit is currently soliciting partners for the second entry. The team will utilize other drivers in the longer Grand Am races, announcing those pilots during the Daytona test days in January.
Hyper Sport has taken over the former Protostar/Cadillac 12,000-square-foot facility in Norcross, acquiring the plant earlier this year. Marketing partners include Hyperband, a multi-family residential broadband provider and Bon Secour Village, a luxury planned community in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
In other Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series news, G&W Motorsports announced a name change for its Daytona Prototype team. The team will now be known as Synergy Racing and will enter a #8 Rx.com BMW Doran in the 2005 campaign. Drivers Burt and Brian Frisselle have been named drivers for all races; they will be augmented by other drivers during the longer races.
Burt Frisselle, 23, was one of the primary drivers for Michael Shank Racing's #6 Lexus Doran during the 2004 season, racking up a pair of podium results and eight top-10 finishes in 11 races. Brian, 20, competed in the Star Mazda Series last season, ending the year with a podium finish in the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca finale.
"We were blown away with Brian's level of racing maturity and overall car setup knowledge," declared Synergy Racing team manager Price Cobb. "Brian was always a thorn in our side as one of our primary competitors in Dayton Prototypes last year."
The brothers have a rich racing heritage: father Brad is a legend in sports car competition with a number of championships on his resume. This will be the Frisselle brothers' first opportunity to race together. "Teaming with my brother is something we have dreamed about for years," Brian revealed. "We have a great friendship and, although we are competitive with one another, we're never negative, especially when it comes to driving."