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Detroit: Jeff Courtney race report

Detroit, Michigan -- Motor City lived up to its name this weekend as thousands of racing fans and enthusiasts poured in to attend the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. In conjunction with the race was a nearly weeklong 10th Annual Viper Owners ...

Detroit, Michigan -- Motor City lived up to its name this weekend as thousands of racing fans and enthusiasts poured in to attend the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. In conjunction with the race was a nearly weeklong 10th Annual Viper Owners Invitational. Approximately one thousand owners came to the city for the Dodge sponsored festivities, bringing with them more than 400 of their beloved street cars from all over North America. Jeff Courtney, driver of the No. 99 Kenda/TJM IWM/Coins of America Dodge Viper welcomed the opportunity to meet the fans and enjoyed signing autographs, "It was a lot of fun," Courtney said, "The place was packed. I couldn't believe how enthusiastic everyone was. It was great."

Dodge had a plethora of events and entertainment planned; including factory tours and chances to check out the Chelsea Proving Grounds and watch the Viper owners tear up the track.

The highlight of the weekend's events was the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race held on Sunday afternoon. This was the first time in years the series has been on the Belle Isle track and it proved to be daunting. "The track is narrow with high concrete barriers making it difficult to pass on. If you do not qualify well, it is tough to finish well," said Courtney.

"I can't ever remember our cars being so far off the pace this season," said Courtney. The Vipers were running around 2 and a half seconds back of the leaders. Knowing how important a good qualifying spot would be, Courtney pushed the car hard and went just a tick over its limits coming into Turn One, but kept the slide off the wall for more than 100 yards before the bottom of the car caught on the raised concrete and twisted the car into the wall, damaging the suspension and brake lines. "I got lucky there, it could have been much worse. Along with a close call in Saturday's practice, when the steering wheel came off in another spin, I really got a couple of breaks by not further damaging the car, or myself," said Courtney. The team was forced to use the first lap time, putting the No. 99 Kenda/TJM IWM/Coins of America Dodge Viper 14th on the grid.

With only three hours between qualifying and the start of the race, the Woodhouse Team did an unbelievable job putting the car back together. "I really need to thank the whole Team, Erik Messley, Eddie Martin, Ashley Wick, Rick Maxwell and Bob Woodhouse for getting my car ready for the race," said Courtney. "I do not like putting our team and crew in that position."

"Detroit was tough for me; passing was a challenge, almost impossible with the intake restriction we have now. I was fighting a soft brake pedal due to the damage from my qualifying spin," said Courtney. "That, and the fact that the Vipers were just not as competitive at this venue, it was nearly impossible to move through the field." Courtney finished the race in a frustrated 11th position, but maintained his 8th place standing in the Championship Points race.

Brian Simo, new to the Woodhouse Racing Team, stretched his racing muscles in his first SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race this weekend. "I think Brian did well for his first time in a Viper," said Courtney. Simo finished 10th.

The Woodhouse Team is readying the cars for the New Jersey Motorsports Park near Millville. "It is another new track for me and a chance to make things right. I look forward to the challenge," said Courtney.

-credit: jcr

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Series PWC
Drivers Brian Simo , Bob Woodhouse , Erik Messley , Jeff Courtney , Eddie M