seven still ahead Terry Borcheller had a strong 2004 season, but came up short on his quest for a seventh professional race championship in seven years. The Gainesville, Ga., driver tied for the Grand-Am Cup driver title, but finished second on...
seven still ahead
Terry Borcheller had a strong 2004 season, but came up short on his quest for a seventh professional race championship in seven years. The Gainesville, Ga., driver tied for the Grand-Am Cup driver title, but finished second on tie-breaking victories. He and his co-driver Johnny Mowlem of London, England, were third in the American Le Mans Series GTS class behind the powerful Corvette champions, and Borcheller finished ninth (unofficially; standings haven't been released) in the Rolex Sports Car Series, after winning the inaugural Daytona Prototype championship in 2003 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year.
"In not getting the seventh championship in seven years, it's going to make me work really hard in the off-season and I'm going to be very hungry next year," Borcheller vowed.
Borcheller came as close as possible to winning a championship in 2004 without collecting the hardware. He tied Craig Stanton of Long Beach, Calif., for the Grand-Am Cup driver championship on Oct. 30, but the title went to Stanton because he had more race wins, including three as Borcheller's co-driver. Borcheller also lost a nine-point edge when his team forfeited winning points because of a fuel-capacity infraction at le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec.
The final 2004 race, at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., was frustrating. Borcheller's co-driver, Devon Powell of Port Perry, Ont., qualified the No. 11 Powell Motorsport Cadillac CTS-V fifth on the grid with a lap of one minute 48.567 seconds on the 2.28-mile infield road course. He moved to second at the green flag and took the lead after 19 minutes of the three-hour race. His lead vanished at 44m when the Cadillac was hit by another car, forcing a long pitstop for repairs that dropped the team seven laps off the pace. Borcheller drove the second stint, from 57m to 1h44, and Powell returned for the final stint. Concerned about potential damage from the first-lap incident, he pitted to replace several components on the car and lost six more laps. The pair finished 17th in the GS class, 13 laps behind the leader.
Stanton's championship chase was hampered by a broken motor mount with just 20 minutes remaining in the race. His team got him back on track for one final lap and took two of their five team cars out of the race to help him gain positions to win the championship. He finished 13th in class, just enough to tie Borcheller on points and take the championship with the tie-breaking season victories.
"After the whole season, it came down to the last 10 minutes," Borcheller quietly noted.
Borcheller had an eventful run in the season-ending Rolex Sports Car Series race in Fontana on Oct. 31. He started sixth on the 37-car grid, after qualifying the No. 54 Bell Motorsports Pontiac-powered Doran JE4 in 1:32.531 on the 2.28-mile track. He was hit from behind on the first lap of the race and spun, dropping back to 12th in the Daytona Prototype class, 33rd overall. He tracked back through the field to fifth in class and overall after 23 minutes of the two-hour 45-minute race. He was dicing for fourth place when he was slowed by a bent left-rear suspension arm at 33m. After two pitstops to repair and replace it, Christian Fittipaldi of Biscayne Bay, Fla., started his stint at 59m, returning to the track 14th in class. He gained one position to finish 13th.
"I had a phenomenal start and got hit in the back end by EFR [Elliott Forbes-Robinson]. He was very apologetic but it totally affected the outcome of our race. Possibly as a result of the incident, we had a suspension failure," Borcheller reported. "It was a frustrating way to end the season."
Borcheller is grateful to the teams and individuals who powered him through three professional race series this year. He offered thanks to those who helped make it happen:
Rolex Sports Car Series - "Forest Barber has become a great friend and this year has gained a lot of experience as a car owner. I look forward to the future with him. I've run with Bell Motorsports since 1997 and I have been fortunate to have had the engineering expertise of Jim Bell on several championship occasions."
Grand-Am Cup - "Thanks to Powell Motorsport for giving me a great opportunity and to John Krieg - without him, I wouldn't have had the Grand-Am Cup opportunity that I had - thanks, John!"
American Le Mans Series - "I'm grateful to [ACEMCO Motorsports team owner] Jeff Giangrande for letting me do the race conflicts. The compromises he had to make are very much appreciated; they literally resulted in a tie in the Cup championship. If it hadn't been for him, I would not have been able to do that."
drivers - "Thanks to all my co-drivers this year. It was an honor to drive with them."
personal and team sponsors - "I want to give special thanks to all the sponsors who were involved with all of the teams - Kodak for this year and their continued support for '05, the entire team at K&N Performance Filters for their support over the last several years and into '05, Shan Stratton and the entire Infinity2 Nutrition team, Bob Bondurant and the all boys in Phoenix, Alpinestars, Bell Helmets and Goodyear, who have supported me since 1991 - I'm thankful for the many years of support and the great friendship and wisdom of Bob Shaffer."