GUTHRIE RACING: Eight Days By Sean Guthrie, Indy Pro Series driver As my Guthrie Racing team flew home from Florida on April 2nd after a two-race weekend in St. Petersburg, there was only one thing that we were thinking about discussing: What...
GUTHRIE RACING: Eight Days
By Sean Guthrie, Indy Pro Series driver
As my Guthrie Racing team flew home from Florida on April 2nd after a two-race weekend in St. Petersburg, there was only one thing that we were thinking about discussing: What car will I drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
My #4 Car Crafters / Dallara was severely damaged after a crash I was in during the "Miami 100" Indy Pro Series event from Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the team was unsure if it could be repaired for the upcoming testing and racing events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or at all. We borrowed a car for the two races in St. Petersburg, but had to find a way to fix our car, or buy a new one, for Indianapolis.
One week later, the Guthrie Racing Team was told that my race car was going to have to return to Italy for extensive repairs at Dallara's main manufacturing facility. With the Open Test for the Indy Pro Series scheduled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 27th, followed up with the all-important "Freedom 100" race on Indy's massive oval on Carb Day just a month later, it would be an impossible feat for the car to be shipped from the team headquarters in Albuquerque, repaired in Italy and then returned to either Albuquerque or Indianapolis in time for the late-April test. After many phone calls and negotiations, my father and team owner Jim Guthrie was able to work a deal with another team and was able to purchase a spare Dallara chassis.
On Saturday, April 14th, at 6:00 pm, the new tub -- just the basic chassis frame with NOTHING else attached - arrived at the shop. I didn't arrive too far behind, and evaluated the car to see what work was ahead for myself and the team.
I knew it was going to be a long night, and advised the team's car painter of the same thing. The adopted car had not been raced in more than a year, and was partly stripped of paint, partly repaired, and fully in need of help. I, along with the team's painter and team owner owner Jim Guthrie, went to work. At about 12:30 am the next day, we decided to head home and get ready for what would be a very long week.
By Sunday night, the car had a complete paint job, and by Monday afternoon it was ready to be assembled.
Guthrie Racing was facing two additional dilemmas, however: Tom Wieringa's (teammate) car was still in the process of being repaired and prepared from his St. Petersburg accident, and my new car looked more like an empty sled then a race car.
From Monday to Friday that week, four members of the amazing Guthrie Racing crew and I put in 12+-hour days to have both cars very close to completion. The only break the team ever took was on Wednesday night when they stopped work an hour early, at 7:00 pm, to celebrate my 19th birthday with a cook-out at our house.
On Saturday morning - just a week since the car arrived in the shop - all that remained was the body fit, set-up, vinyl and some other loose ends.
Acting as driver, body man and vinyl man, I had a long day in front of me that day. I woke up at 6:30 am to cut all the vinyl the team needed for the now freshly painted #4 machine, and arrived at the shop shortly before 9:00 am. Through the rest of the day, the team and I worked very hard to get the car ready.
The Guthrie Racing Team had one more hurdle to jump, and then -- we thought - it should be "smooth sailing" for the rest of the week. Ha!
While most of the body parts were able to be painted before fitting the body to the tub, the engine cover was not. (All of the parts on a race car must go through a pain-staking process of adding and removing material for a perfect fit so as to improve the way the car penetrates the air. This process is normally done prior to painting the car parts so that the paint will cover up any marks that are made during the fitting process).
The engine cover is the last piece of bodywork that is fit on the car, and it's notorious for needing more work then all other panels. Because of that, the team had to wait until the entire car was assembled before addressing the engine cover, which also needed to be painted by Sunday morning.
When 8:00 pm rolled around, the team was still struggling with getting all of the pieces to line up, and the body fit was still not complete on the engine cover. Myself and the other 19-year-old on the team, crew member Jake McDade, worked through dinner and kept the progress moving ahead (OK, we had a short burger break). Finally, at 12:30 am, all of the pieces lined up and the majority of the work was done on the engine cover.
As I went to bed on what was now Sunday morning, I was thrilled at the progress that we -- collectively - had made and assumed that all of the hard work was done.
When I entered the race shop later on Sunday morning, I begin to finish my final work, along with the rest of our guys. Everything was looking great, when the team noticed two long cracks in the engine cover. It appeared that, while sitting overnight strapped to the car, an epoxy joint had failed and would require some very creative and quick work to repair. The team had to have the part to the painter by 4:00 pm in order to get it done and in the trailer so that the trailer could leave on Monday morning for it's trip to Indianapolis and the Open Test.
I shook my head, and realized that I was the man for the job. I gathered my tools and headed outside. At 4:10 pm, I was running the part out the door and to the paint booth. A few hours later, the part was done and the Guthrie Racing team bolted the part to the car.
The sun had already set that day as I finished applying the Car Crafters decals to my car, and the team then headed to dinner to relax and relish their victory (over the challenges of repairing and preparing a car this time -- not any competitor).
The Guthrie Racing team had again performed miracles and had done what usually takes an off season to do--in just eight days.
The Guthrie Racing team, with driver's Sean Guthrie and Tom Wieringa, is participating in an Indy Pro Series open test on the massive Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile oval, on Friday, April 27, 2007.
SEAN GUTHRIE: INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY TEST QUOTE
"Considering how our season started, I'm really hoping for a good test in Indianapolis to turn things around for our team. We've been working furiously on the car 12 or more hours each day since we left St. Petersburg trying to get things ready for Indy. A good test will make up for some of the hard work we have had to put in after our trip to Florida. I raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, so the track won't be new to me. It will be nice to go back and not have to learn the track. Although it's our biggest race of the year, it's still just a race we want to win, regardless of where it's held."
TOM WIERINGA: INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY TEST QUOTE
"We're really looking forward to the test at Indy this Friday. This team has been working diligently, night and day, on both cars, getting them in pristine shape for the test after the adventurous weekend in St. Pete. I am extremely appreciative to the team for all of their hard work. Last year was my first time racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and right out of the box we were very quick there. I'm looking to supercede that performance this year with the Guthrie team. In addition, we're excited about hosting a contingent of our stakeholders in the racing business, whether they be the people helping us with different facets of operations, our current sponsors or potential sponsors. I'm really looking forward to having a day at the track to interact with them."