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Mid-Ohio: BimmerWorld race report

BimmerWorld Wins At Mid-Ohio As Joey Hand Puts On A BMW Driving Clinic Delivers 1st win for team in his debut race, first professional win for the BMW E90 in North America; team mate Seth Thomas suffers heartbreak on starting line while 3rd...

BimmerWorld Wins At Mid-Ohio As Joey Hand Puts On A BMW Driving Clinic

Delivers 1st win for team in his debut race, first professional win for the BMW E90 in North America; team mate Seth Thomas suffers heartbreak on starting line while 3rd on the grid.

After years of learning the series and developing their own cars, the BimmerWorld SPEED World Challenge Touring Car team broke through at Mid-Ohio on Sunday to score their first win as an entrant, the first win for new driver Joey Hand, and the first professional win for the new BMW 3-series E90 chassis in North America.

After a weekend of so many firsts, team owner James Clay was beaming with pride after sharing sips of Hand's champagne with his BimmerWorld crew in victory circle. "It's awesome--it's taken us a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get here. We knew it would be tough to develop these new cars and it's nice that it's finally paying off. It's a start, but it's just one win. (I hope) it's the start of a trend."

Joey Hand, new to the BimmerWorld team but by no means new to driving BMW's or working with James Clay, was thankful for the opportunity to end a dry spell for race wins, and to exorcize the memories of a famous crash that saw him somersaulting last year at Mid-Ohio. The first thing he did after the race was to call his wife and tell her the good news, "Honey, I survived Mid-Ohio this year and actually won!"

For Hand, victory is the only thing he races for. "It's an awesome feeling. This is what I remember from winning. I've won all my life from Karting to race cars, and I've just had this dry streak with some situations that didn't go well, or some close calls. Last year I seemingly had this one won, and ended up in the biggest wreck I've ever been in, and the biggest wreck most people have ever seen. Somebody told me that Mid-Ohio owed me one, and maybe that's true; today it was more about the BimmerWorld crew guys working hard all week, working through small challenges we had, powering through that, and I wanted to make sure I came in here and gave these guys a hundred percent."

With Hand coming to BimmerWorld from a number of high profile racing series and teams, it's what he discovered within the BimmerWorld program that was most refreshing. "(I found a) well built race car, a safely built race car--that's important to me, and a car that had all the potential I needed--it went fast as soon as I got into it."

Rather than Hand coming to the team and bringing the missing tools necessary for the program to win, he found the car, crew, and expertise already there for him to take the checkered flag. "When I walked into this deal, this was a top-notch professional team with great crew guys--some of the best I've seen, especially at this level of racing. These guys are all Rolex or ALMS-quality mechanics. The data guys, the engine builders, all that stuff is top-notch.

"It's not just me coming in here as a professional that really makes all the difference; sure, my knowledge helps, but if you don't have a good crew and a good race car, I'm still going to finish 8th or 9th. I can't just come in and 'wheel' anything. The car has to be something, and this car is something. This team has got everything they need to be successful through the end of the year, and next year to go for a championship."

Seth Thomas, the top qualifying BimmerWorld driver in 3rd place, would experience the highs and lows of motor sports when a driveline failure kept his car stationary as the green lights came on. "It was a short and sweet race for me, (but) it was fun watching Joey from the side lines. It's great being able to see his driving style and my driving style in these kinds of cars with the Toyo Tires and the PFC Brakes; we can blend those styles together and I think it will be a killer package."

In the cut-throat SPEED Touring Car series, the BimmerWorld team takes on the full might of manufacturer supported efforts from Mazda and Acura with the BMW 325i chassis' that are built and developed in-house. Unlike Mazda and Acura, the BimmerWorld team has only their experience and relationships with key suppliers to battle the factories. Clay is the first to share the credit for the win with their partners that have helped to provide the advantage needed for their customer cars and their race cars.

"Seth and Joey have demonstrated all weekend how fast and competitive our race cars are. Seth had a let down in the race, but he was our fastest driver all weekend and has been ready to win all season. When his team mate won instead, it affirmed what we've been doing for years on track and at our shop: we race what we sell, and what we sell is the best on the market.

"The Performance Friction brake kits on our race cars are very similar to the same kit we sell to customers and install for street or lapping day use. The same goes for our Moton shocks--the Moton Club Sports we sell to our clients have the same engineering quality, design, and racing lineage as the full-race versions on our World Challenge cars. We're proud to represent all our partners and to prove their quality with a win. We're working hard to win more and more for them."

With Clay's bold choice to abandon the popular but old BMW E46 chassis, to buy three new E90's, and to fashion them into race winning form, a hard year and a half of developing the E90 is starting to bear fruit.

"I don't think you can expect to be strong out of the box, and through all the troubles we've had, this has definitely not been an easy road. But it's what you have to do; you can't sit and race your old stuff and continue to do well. BimmerWorld pioneers things--that's what we do as a company, that's what we do with the parts that we sell, and it's what we do on the race team."

Looking to the next round in Canada at Mosport, August 24-26:

Seth Thomas, by far the SPEED Touring Car driver that's most overdue for a win, is forced to look to Mosport for his next opportunity to stand atop the podium. "Road Atlanta's my home track and Mosport is my second favorite track, so there's a positive result coming soon," he said smiling.

Thomas and Hand get their team owner back as a team mate for Mosport. Seth thinks Clay's skills behind the wheel will only improve the team's chances at success. "With three cars in the mix, and considering how well we ran here, having (James back) will definitely be beneficial. Every time we come out here and run these cars we see different things that each of us can do to make the lap times faster and faster."

Joey Hand also looks forward to the 3-car BimmerWorld team at Mosport. "I'm just thinking about beating the team owner... (laughs)." I think the rest of the season will be good for our BMW's--I've always been strong at Mosport, and I think I've come in at the right time of the year."

While the road ahead for BimmerWorld and their BMW E90's won't be easy, at least they've proven that the car and team had the potential to earn a breakthrough win. In the month leading up Mosport, the drivers, crew, and team partners will be challenged to keep pace with the factory teams in the race to develop the best SPEED Touring Cars possible.

-credit: bimmerworld

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Series PWC
Drivers Joey Hand , James Clay , Seth Thomas