Early and late-race setbacks weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of Park Place Motorsports’ GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series debut efforts at this weekend’s 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona as both its No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup entry and companion No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3 Cup customer-car entry finished strongly.
In the very first hour of the traditional twice-around-the-clock endurance marathon, both Park Place Motorsports Porsches experienced right-front wheel issues that immediately snatched them from the lead lap. Both Long, in the No. 73 Porsche, and starting driver Jean-Francois Dumoulin in the No. 72 Porsche, were the victims of what turned out to be wheel nut problems after both feared their right-front tires were going down. Long lost just one lap, but Dumoulin had to spend seven laps in the pits loosening a wheel nut that had seized up.
Undaunted, both Park Place Motorsports driver lineups and pit crews soldiered on and treated every lap like they were racing for the win over the next 23 hours.
The No. 73 Porsche, that Long shared with Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Lindsey, Jason Hart and Daniel Graeff, lost another lap when it had to serve a hefty penalty on pit road for engaging in a wave-around without being instructed to during the second hour. And it lost another 19 laps when right-rear suspension pieces had to be replaced on pit road after a skirmish with a wayward Daytona Prototype competitor during the ninth hour. Those typically daunting setbacks were not enough to deter the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports team as it rallied for its still-solid 16th-place finish.
The next event on the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 12-race tour is the GRAND-AM of the Americas at the new Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 circuit in Austin, Texas. Race day is Saturday, March 2, with same-day delayed television coverage provided by SPEED beginning at 5:30 p.m. EST.
Patrick Long, co-driver of the No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“Sometimes you go into a 24-hour race and you hit all your marks but you don’t have a competitive car, so even if you don’t have any issues, you wouldn’t have had a chance to battle at the end. So, we take some consolation that our car was as fast as anybody’s at the end. I mean, literally, it was not hard to get pulled into some of those battles. But, the guys who won, they were on the lead lap at the end. And, for us, it was all about finishing for these kids, our NF Heroes who have had many days like we just had and will have many more. So there’s a greater purpose here than just glory and fame. These kids ground you and humble you and remind you what it’s about and it’s just great to be around them. In our first stint of the race, we had a car today and we were just trying to play it smart and manage tires and protect the car and drive with that ultimate respect and maturity and, just as racing sometimes deals you the cards, the tire on the right-front side of the car came loose. We don’t know why, but it certainly was a little bit of a bummer. From there, some penalties just sort of took us out of the running. But this team never gave up. For Park Place to have two cars come across the finish line in its first attempt, I think it’s going to become a household name in motorsports. It wasn’t the best possible debut, but I think a lot of people are going to know about Park Place, here, very soon.”
Spencer Pumpelly, co-driver of the No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“This team was just fantastic. I’m really proud of all the guys and all the work they put into the car. The car was mechanically very sound. Speed-wise on the track, it had the base to run with anybody. It’s a really good group of guys and I’m really proud of what they were able to accomplish and I am really proud to have been a part of it. I think we had a couple of bad-luck incidents that kept us from being competitive for the overall win or getting to the podium. But, I think everyone learned, everyone is going to take away some positives from this. And it was great to be able to support all the CTF Heroes. It’s great. We knew the whole time we had support from hundreds of kids out here at the track and thousands of others throughout the U.S. and that was a big deal for us, especially when the car had the accident and we lost a lot of time. It would’ve been easy to say let’s just go ahead and park it for the night, we’re out of this. But, knowing we had all this support, we knew all along that we were performing for a greater cause than just our own personal enjoyment. We persevered and it was great to get to the end and see all the people at the finish.”
Patrick Lindsey, co-driver of the No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“It was a pretty humbling trial of an experience, really. We have the best crew, the best drivers. A little bit of bad luck, but it was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, just glad to be here. In the night stint, there was a Daytona Prototype that was kind of sideways going through the bus stop about to lose it and I went wide to the right side of the exit, got in the marbles. So I had to chase the car all the way to the wall, made contact with the wall, so we had to come in and change the right-rear tow link and upper control arms and that really put us out of the running. What we’ll learn from this is that the 24 is its own animal. I think we’ve got newfound respect for it. We’ll be better prepared for it next year. This was my first time, so I would expect the second one to go that much better. Looking ahead to Austin, we know we will have payback on our minds and we’re very much looking forward to it. We’ll just put together another good car and keep our heads down and keep moving forward.”
Jason Hart, co-driver of the No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“This was a very exciting experience for me, personally. It was my first Rolex 24 and I really had a blast. I thanked the crew on the radio during my last stint for helping me accomplish a 36-year dream as well as accomplishing another very special dream for me that was very special in that this was Park Place’s very first Rolex 24 and it was our first time with CTF and Racing4Research. The biggest takeaway was that we never quit. We came up against some adversity multiple times and the crew always worked on the car as if we were trying to win and they were always employing a strategy to try and get us laps back. Every moment, we ran the race like we were trying to win it from the beginning to the end. So, it was very special to be part of such a strong team that was so focused no matter what kind of adversity it was up against.”
Daniel Graeff, co-driver of the No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“This race is epic. It always is and it never ends up like you think it will when you start. But it ends for us really well, I think. We came back from a lot of adversity, a lot of problems not of our own making, some of our own making. But, in the end, nobody gave up, and that’s a real inspiration for all these beautiful kids here because they face things way tougher than a 24-hour race. And all of them come with the same takeaway, and they’ve told me so – that, thank you, we’re not giving up. So, to me, that’s a big win even though I know this car, this team and these drivers were capable of winning this race this weekend. Next time.”
Jean-Francois Dumoulin, co-driver of the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“It was a difficult race, like 24-hour races typically are. The Vess Energy Services team was really great. Everybody got along. We started with a little problem, a wheel came loose. There was a jammed lug nut. It’s an incident, nothing major, but other than that we were doing great. Everybody did great. All the drivers did their job. Mike Skeen drove well. Mike Vess just drove better and better. All the drivers did well, so it was really great. On that first stint, the car started to vibrate a little bit. I wasn’t sure why. It had problems turning. Then it started locking up. I thought I had a flat tire, not sure which side. I came in and it turned out to be a wheel nut that came loose. And then it was jammed, so it took a while to take it apart. We fixed the problem right away and we were back on the road.”
Mike Vess, co-driver of the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“Man, it’s kind of beyond description. Just looking at the names of the drivers here, and just to have the privilege of driving out there on the same track with those guys, and then, the team here, what they did to move us from where we started to where we ended up. It was unbelievable to be a part of this. It’s been thrilling and it’s really an honor. I might just do this again. I would recommend Park Place to anybody. When we first bought our first race car, we worked with two other support groups and it just didn’t worked. Then we met up with Jason Hart and he led us to Park Place and they did an incredible job to give us a car that was competitive that we could really race, and they did an incredible job to support it. I can’t say enough about Park Place.”
Chuck Cole, co-driver of the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“It was my first time to ever drive the Rolex 24. Actually, it was intense and unreal. I don’t know how else to describe how much fun it was and how nerve-wracking it was and I’m shocked that we got 14th. It’s just great. It’s pretty close to feeling like we won. To get 14th was a good thing. This is probably more fun than the regular deal because the expectations are low and it’s just an enjoyable time. Especially with Park Place Motorsports, it’s just great.”
Grant Phipps, co-driver of the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“It was awesome, an extremely clean race for us. We had a little lug nut issue. The crew did a great job on our little 15-lap issue we had with the lug nut issue. With the Children’s Tumor Foundation with us, it was such an eye-opening weekend and such a pleasure to have the kids around me. That’s been the best part of it. It’s always just historic to do laps at Daytona because you know the best drivers have stared out the windshield and have seen the same things you do, so it’s humbling. But the kids are more humbling to me, and walking across the intro stage holding onto kids on each arm, that was one of the highlights of my life. In the race, I did most of my work at night. Kept it clean, not a lot of traffic, the car was awesome. I got to work with two world-class drivers in Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Mike Skeen. It was just a pleasure and an honor to work with them. And I worked with Mike Vess all summer, teaching him to drive, so it was an honor to see a student drive, too. It was awesome all around. I really appreciate everybody’s done, especially the crew. The crew’s just tireless. They pull us out of the car and they fix all the boo-boos on the car and they do a great job.”
Mike Skeen, co-driver of the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3 Cup for Park Place Motorsports:
“Park Place Motorsports did a great job. They’ve got basically an awesome lineup with crew, drivers. The cars are awesome. They’ve done their research and they’ve put together an A-1 team. It was great to come in here and work with these guys. The car was great. The guys kept it together. It was just dirty, so that says a lot about how everybody did. Pit stops were great all race long. It was a real pleasure to go out there the final stint and take it easy and take the line with the sister No. 73 car. Most of the race, we took it our own pace and let people go faster if they wanted to. We just went at our own pace and stayed out of trouble.”
Park Place Motorsports