Shane Lewis To Pilot BMW Riley For Southard Motorsports DAYTONA, Fla., January 4, 2005 -- Shane Lewis (Jupiter, Fla.) announced today that he will drive the No.7 PAP-Parts Daytona Prototype (DP) of Southard Motorsports for the 2005 season....
Shane Lewis To Pilot BMW Riley For Southard Motorsports
DAYTONA, Fla., January 4, 2005 -- Shane Lewis (Jupiter, Fla.) announced today that he will drive the No.7 PAP-Parts Daytona Prototype (DP) of Southard Motorsports for the 2005 season. The announcement was accompanied by the news that the team would utilize a Riley Technologies Mk XI chassis in the upcoming Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series for the first time. Lewis, lead driver of the program in 2004, will return to that role this season with the Powell, Ohio-based team.
A joint decision by Southard and Bill Riley, owner and head designer of Riley Technologies, to postpone the BMW V8-powered car's debut was also announced. Therefore, the No. 7 red, white and blue Southard entry will not be entered at this year's 43rd Running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. A delay in parts to convert the Riley chassis to the PTG-built BMW engine is the cause for the holdup in the team's 2005 start. While Riley, BMW and the Southard team were prepared, outside parts suppliers were not able to meet the deadline to enter the car at this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona test days or the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona scheduled to run February 5-6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Instead the Southard Motorsports BMW-Riley is now scheduled to take its first green flag at the second race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) on March 5th.
The season will mark Lewis' second tenure driving a design from Indianapolis-based Riley Technologies. He made his debut at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans piloting a Riley & Scott Mk III for the European factory team. He has continued a long relationship with the company since, including testing duties. He most recently helped test and develop George Robinson's 74 Ranch Riley Mk XI at HMS in the fall of 2004.
Shane Lewis has driven in nineteen 24-hour races including seven times at the Rolex 24, three 24 Hours of Le Mans leading the race in GT class in 2003 and the 2004 24 Hours of Nurburgring. He has three class-victories, two overall, at the 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges. Lewis has been racing since 1989 with wins in Grand American sanctioned events, in the IMSA Supercar and SCCA Pro Series and the Historic SportsCar Series. Lewis was honored as the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner.
An artist rendering of the new paint scheme for the Lewis' driven PAP-Parts BMW Riley is available upon request.
About signing to drive for Southard Motorsports in 2005: "I'm really looking forward to the 2005 season with Southard Motorsports and the BMW-Riley. Steve and Martha Southard are such great people and all of the crew is just awesome, like family. In your career as a driver, you're always looking for a team that supports you and values your input. Steve has done that since the first day I stepped into the No. 7 PAP-Parts car. This is a growing and maturing team and we are starting to really see our efforts pay off. Their commitment to me and this new chassis shows their enthusiasm for the program. I was approached by several teams during the off-season but the Southard operation is where I want to be. They have a long-range plan in place and I am proud to be a part of that. With all the top teams and drivers competing in the Grand American Series, we will definitely have our work cut out for us for sure. I can't wait!"
About Southard missing the Rolex 24: "Of course I'm disappointed that the Southard team won't be racing at Daytona. But, I know Steve had no other choice. We needed time to get the new Riley ready for the BMW. It's hard to swallow, as a driver, that your team won't be out there. However, I'm anxious to get to Homestead to get going with the new PAP-Parts BMW Riley."
Steve Southard, owner:
About signing Shane Lewis: "I'm really excited about having Shane onboard with us. We are building a team and organization for the future. Our immediate focus and plans are for 2005 and 2006. Shane is instrumental in our program and we are delighted to have him with us again this season."
About missing the Rolex 24: "While I'm terribly disappointed to miss this year's 24 Hour I know it is in the team's best interest to do the job right the first time. Shane has been a true asset to our team and we want to give him the best equipment possible. We are strongly committed to the Rolex Series for 2005 and beyond. Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward. That is what we're doing here. We had every intention of racing at Daytona but, due to a supply situation out of Riley's or our control, we just couldn't make that happen. We're dedicated to competing in the remaining races of the season and in strengthening our program each and every week."
Bill Riley, chassis designer: "It is really great to have Shane in one of our cars again. He is longtime driver of Riley & Scott cars going back to our Le Mans days. He always does a great job. He's quick and he's smart. We look forward to having Shane and Steve running our Riley Daytona Prototype next season. It's a shame the car won't be ready Daytona. But, the timing is just so tight it is a very sensible decision to start this program at Homestead."
For more on Shane Lewis please see www.shanelewis.com. To learn more about Southard Motorsports, please visit www.southardmotorsports.com.