New Grand-Am Cup teams turning heads at testing DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 5, 2003) -- Two new Grand-Am Cup Series teams were turning heads at Daytona International Speedway this weekend during pre-season testing for the Daytona 250, Jan. 31.
New Grand-Am Cup teams turning heads at testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 5, 2003) -- Two new Grand-Am Cup Series teams were turning heads at Daytona International Speedway this weekend during pre-season testing for the Daytona 250, Jan. 31. Schuitemaker Motorsports hit the track with its new #35 Nissan 350Z in the Grand Sport II class, while Nuzzo Motorsports debuted a pair of BMW Mini Cooper S entries in Sport Touring I.
While both teams are still in the early development stages of their new race cars, they both got the same reaction as they drove through the garage area on their way to the racetrack.
"We drive through and all the Rolex (Series) teams and drivers stop and turn around to watch us," said Nuzzo crew chief Mike Bavaro. "It's seems like a lot of people started racing in the original Minis, so seeing us drive through the garage really takes them back to their early days in racing."
Schuitemaker driver B.J. Zacharias had the same experience when at the wheel of the new Nissan 350Z. "With the (Rolex Series) Daytona Prototypes there are all these people around taking pictures of them. But when we pulled up to the Union 76 station the first time, they all flocked around us to take pictures of the new Nissan."
While getting attention in the garage is a nice welcome for the two teams, they hope to garner attention on the racetrack as well at the season-opener in Daytona and this weekend's testing has proven pivotal in their racing development.
"We had to initially setup the car at the shop by eyeballing it, because this is the first 350Z to race in America. So we are really in uncharted waters," said Schuitemaker team owner/driver Mical Schuitemaker. "We are really happy with how everything has gone this weekend. When we were not running the car it was because we were making adjustments to make it better. Our crew chief John Wright has a lot of experience and knows that the developmental progress takes time. We are packing up a little early today, because we don't want to go out there and run the car into the ground. We have learned a lot from it already this weekend, and now are ready to head back to the shop and make the changes we need to be ready to race in a few weeks."
While the Schuitemaker Nissan was able to log some test laps at Daytona in November, this weekend's testing was a first for the Nuzzo Motorsports team. "I'm really pleased that we got both cars running and had them both out during every session this weekend," said Bavaro, who prepares the cars for team owner Tony Nuzzo at Bodymotion, Inc., in Ocean City, N.J. "It's a huge learning curve, but we are in this for the long haul and are going to do it right. We want to put on a good show from the first race at Daytona to the last race of the season."
Both teams have realistic expectations as they head into the 2003 Grand-Am Cup Series season-opener only three weeks away.
"A top-five finish in class is our goal," said Zacharias about the Nissan. "GS II is a tough class. If we can come in fifth, I'd be very happy, because the Porsche and Mustang teams already have a lot of development under their belts."
"We want to be competitive," said team owner Nuzzo of his pair of Mini Coopers. "We think we can be a really competitive entry in the ST I class, and have a lot of fun while doing it in these cars."
The Schuitemaker Nissan's best lap time of the weekend was a 2:10.977 at 97.849 mph in the Grand Sport II class, while the #21 Mini Cooper of Nuzzo Motorsports posted the team's quickest lap time in the Sport Touring I class with its 94.738 mph lap in 2:15.279.
The Doncaster Racing #119 Porsche GT3 Cup clocked the quickest time of the weekend with its 1:59.255 lap at 107.467 mph, which was nearly a half a second under the current Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport I track record. Planet Earth Motorsports made an impressive debut in the Grand Sport II class during testing, posting the fasting time in the class with a 100.415 mph lap in 02:07.630 with the team's #41 Porsche 911.
The HRPworld.com #44 Acura Integra LS had the best Sport Touring II time with its 2:25.187 lap in 88.272 mph.
The Grand-Am Cup Daytona 250 will be part of the 41st Rolex At Daytona event weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Jan. 30 - Feb. 2. Tickets are currently on sale for the 41st Rolex 24 At Daytona and may be purchased by calling the Speedway ticket office at 386-253-RACE. Additional information about the Grand-Am Cup Series is available online at www.grandamerican.com.