DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec., 12, 2001) - Will Nonnamaker's 2001 season was one that he will never forget. Nonnamaker was the only driver in Grand-Am Cup to score a podium finish at every race as he scored six wins, two seconds, and two thirds. His average finishing position of 1.6 was enough to score him the 2001 Grand-Am Cup C2K championship, his second professional championship in three years.
Series - Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series
Class - Compact 2000
Team - US Filter - Planet Earth Motorsports
Car - Acura Integra GSR
Date of Birth - December 24, 1971 (Age 29)
Hometown - North Canton, OH
Birthplace - Lima, OH
Spouse - Holly
Children - none
2001 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Daytona - 3rd C2K (25th Overall)
Homestead-Miami - 2nd C2K (15th Overall)
Phoenix - 1st C2K (11th Overall)
Watkins Glen - 3rd C2K (28th Overall)
Mid-Ohio - 1st C2K (20th Overall)
Mosport - 1st C2K (15th Overall)
Virginia - 1st C2K (21st Overall)
Road America - 2nd C2K (16th Overall)
Trois-Rivières - 1st C2K (12th Overall)
Daytona - 1st C2K (18th Overall)
IN HIS WORDS*
When did you begin racing?
I started road racing in 1992 in Bill Pate's old VW Golf. My first driver's school was at Nelson Ledges, the weekend as finals at college were ending. So I had to jump in my car, drive two hours home, and then Dad and I drove another four hours in the cold rain to Nelson. We got in at like 2 am and the heater in the motorhome wasn't working, so I dressed up in my nomex to keep warm. Not quite the glorious beginning, but that's what racing is always about.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue racing professionally?
I always did. Ever since I was really young, we went to Waterford Hills where my Dad raced a Pinto. When the family wasn't at the race track, we were working on the race car on the weekend. I wore out a big wheel every year. Wrecked many a bike. I was always consumed by racing, I guess that I still am.
Do you have any superstitions?
What are you thoughts on the 2001 season?
[My brother] Wayne and I won the Touring Class championship together in 1999 in the Mazda. And then in 2000, we switched to Acura Integras. Everyone else in the Compact class was very experienced with their cars, HART, Fenton Motorsports, Hyundai, Team Lobo, WTF Engineering, and we were completely new to Acuras. The team really struggled with the [Integra] GS-R in 2000 with only one podium finish. But we were determined to not be one hit wonders, and prove that 99 wasn't a fluke. To have HART, who won everything in 2000, come back so strong in 2001 really made the season great, because our two teams had some great battles throughout the ten race season.
What was your most memorable racing moment in 2001?
I think the highlight to our season had to be the ninth race at Trios Rivieres. We had faced stiff competition from the HART team all year in their Honda Civic Si race cars. But at Trios Rivieres, HART brought out an Acura Integra GS-R just like our car. These guys [HART] are factory Honda engineers, and if there is anybody who knows Honda/Acuras, its them. Our whole crew pulled together, and we went out and captured the top two spots on the podium. Then we went to the final race at Daytona and finished 1-2 again. The Daytona race was really great, because it was my Dad's first race back since he broke his neck at Homestead. He finished second, so my Dad, my brother, and I were able to all go up on the podium in Daytona Victory Lane.
What are your plans for the 2002 season?
I will return to defend our team's crown in 2002 in a King Motorsports Acura Integra LS. My brother Wayne and I will be co-drivers together in the #41 racer. I wish that Wayne and I could have won the championship together like we did in 1999. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way, but that is definitely our goal in 2002.
What goals do you have set for yourself?
For me it's not really about my individual career, but about the growth of the whole team. Long term, we would like to expand the team to the Grand-Am Rolex series. But there is a lot more that we have to accomplish in the Grand-Am Cup before we make any kind of future plans. We want to defend our Compact championship (now called Sports Touring II) and there is the little matter of our Corvette that runs in the top Grand Sports I class. That is a very tough class, but I think that our father Joe and the Orison Marketing - Corvette will surprise everyone a little bit next year.
As a driver though, I am always striving to improve myself. After every race, I critique myself and give my race a grade, like A-, B+, etc. Sometimes I win a race and give the race a C-, or there have been times when I finished fifth and thought that race was an A-. Its all about getting better, so that when opportunities come along, you are ready physically and mentally to do the job.
What hobbies do you have outside of racing?
Mountain Biking, Racquetball, Hiking.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
I would definitely have to say my family. I know that a lot of people say this, but with our family, we work together and race together. It's always been that way, so it's hard to imagine it any other way.
What else would you like sports car fans to know?
I would like to let all sports car fans know that there is some really good endurance racing going on in the Grand-Am Cup series, as good as if not better than it ever was in the 80's or 90's. Sixty to seventy street stock racers going at it for more than three hours, from Acuras to Corvettes.
The 2002 Grand-Am Cup season will kick off at the 40th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, where Grand-Am Cup will race on Friday, Feb.2 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale for the Grand-Am Cup race, as well as the entire Rolex 24 At Daytona event weekend. They may be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at 386-252-RACE.