Elkhart Lake, WI -- Marybeth Harrison, driver for Glacier Bear Racing, finished in 20th position during Saturday's Trans-Am race at Road America after being as high as 14th (unofficial) before a tangle with Brian Simo and a trip to the pits...
Elkhart Lake, WI -- Marybeth Harrison, driver for Glacier Bear Racing, finished in 20th position during Saturday's Trans-Am race at Road America after being as high as 14th (unofficial) before a tangle with Brian Simo and a trip to the pits resulted in the drop to 20th. "It would have been great to have a top 15 finish," stated Team Manager, George Reggio. "But given that this was only our third Trans-Am race and Marybeth's fourth time in the car we're really happy with what we were able to accomplish in such a short time. We think we've proved that we can be competitive and that it's only a matter of time before we're top ten contenders."
For the new team on the new track, precious laps on the 4-mile, 14-turn road course were cut short on Friday with a multi-car accident cancelling morning practice after one lap. The afternoon's qualifying session was also reduced after yet another track incident. By the end of the day, while the Glacier Bear Racing team had logged only five laps they still managed to qualify in the top half of the field.
The car lined up for the race in 22nd position on the grid having completed an additional seven laps during the Saturday morning practice. "Obviously, it would have been great to get more than 12 laps in," Harrison stated prior to the start of the afternoon race, "But I'm happy to have the opportunity to be here and we'll just do the best we can with what we have. Our major goal is to have a good clean race and move up as many positions as possible. The team all have bets on where we'll finish so we'll know in a couple of hours who's buying dinner tonight!"
After a clean start, Harrison had made it to an impressive 14th position (unofficial) when she was passed by Brian Simo who had had to make several trips to the pits during the race and was well back in the field. "I let Brian go by and then tucked up behind him so that I could follow him past the two guys in front of me," Harrison stated. "I figured they'd give Simo room and if I could stay close enough to him they'd have no choice but to let me by as well. Those two positions would have moved me up to 11th so I figured it was a good gamble if it paid off. Unfortunately, it didn't: one of the guys didn't see Brian and cut him off at the apex of the corner. Brian had to get hard on the brakes and I had to veer hard left onto the grass to avoid rear-ending him. The grass, because it's so slippery, caused me to pick up speed and I slid across the inside of the turn and ended up collecting Brian as I re-entered the track on the other side. We both spun out and although managed to get going again the two guys I'd been trying to pass were long gone. Now that wouldn't have been so bad but then I made matters worse by answering a black flag which turned out to be for a different car and that cost us - I don't know how many positions - while I sat in the pits. Our radio communications had gone down and my crew weren't able to tell me not to come in. Luckily my crew chief didn't waste too much time and sent me out again after a quick inspection but by then we'd dropped to 20th with no time to regain any positions before the checkered flag."
The Harrison/Simo incident was only one of a dozen crashes, wrecks and mechanical problems that occurred during one of the most action-packed races of the season. "I was happy to just finish," Harrison stated. "In addition to the one red flag which had us stopped for about 10 minutes, there were more yellow flags than I could count with cars going off, dirt and gravel on the track, emergency vehicles -- it was crazy. At one point, I had to drive right off the track to avoid a complete block in Turn 7. Overall though it was a lot of fun -- what better way to spend your Saturday than racing a 650 hp race car around one of North America's best tracks?"
The Road America race is tape-delayed and will be televised on Speedvision August 26th at [time].
At this point, the team's plans for the rest of the year are somewhat up in the air as they continue to search for sponsorship for the three West Coast races in October and November which include Las Vegas, Laguna Seca and San Diego.