BRASELTON, Ga. - A month ago, he came close to realizing a long-time dream. Next week, he has an opportunity to give others something to dream about. Ron Fellows, one of North America's best road racing drivers, will be seeking his third ...
BRASELTON, Ga. - A month ago, he came close to realizing a long-time dream. Next week, he has an opportunity to give others something to dream about.
Ron Fellows, one of North America's best road racing drivers, will be seeking his third consecutive GTS win in American Le Mans Series competition at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., when he drives for the factory Corvette team in the July 25-27 Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma.
The Toronto-area resident will be returning to Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point Raceway) a month after having an outstanding performance in the track's annual NASCAR Winston Cup race. Driving for the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., team, Fellows held a comfortable lead late in the race when he fell victim to bad luck created by pit stop strategy and an ill-timed caution flag. He ultimately finished seventh, his considerable road racing skills having earned a ride for him with one of NASCAR's top teams.
Though he fell short of winning the NASCAR Winston Cup race, a career goal that still remains strong for him, he will also have his hands full as he and co-driver Johnny O'Connell try for their third consecutive GTS class win at Infineon Raceway in the American Le Mans Series.
Since their Sonoma win in the 2002 season, the GTS class has taken a considerable step upward in competitiveness with the fulltime addition to the series of the two-car Prodrive Ferrari team and with the notable improvement of the Team Olive Garden Ferrari. The battle of the bright yellow Corvettes against the three Ferrari 550 Maranello machines has been intense in 2003 and has captured the imagination of sports car racing fans around the world.
The Prodrive team added more heat to the GTS class last week by signing sports car racing standouts David Brabham and Jan Magnussen to drive one of its cars. Brabham and Magnussen were the overall winners of last year's ALMS event at Infineon Raceway while driving for the former Panoz factory team.
Fellows and O'Connell are the only teammates to win two consecutive races in ALMS competition at Infineon Raceway and could add to that record with a third straight class win.
Despite the fact that he just raced at Infineon Raceway a month ago, Fellows expects no advantage when the American Le Mans Series machines take to the track.
"Track time is track time, but the cars are so different," said Fellows. "Winston Cup car vs. Compuware Corvette, there's 1,000 pounds difference in weight, probably 1,000 pounds difference in downforce, plus two inches more of Goodyear tire on the Corvette. Just a very different car to drive."
In addition, NASCAR uses a shorter course at Infineon Raceway, while the American Le Mans Series utilizes the full 2.53-mile circuit. "We're running the shorter version with the Winston Cup car so it's a little easier," he said. "You don't do the big Carousel turn.
"I'd say Infineon Raceway is one of the most technically challenging tracks we run with the American Le Mans Series," he said. "Sebring is like that, too. Both are technically challenging, as opposed to the technically challenged," he said with a laugh.
In addition to the race track, Fellows enjoys the famous Sonoma Wine Country as well.
"The best part about racing there is the area," he said. "It's a fantastic area. You couldn't have a better place for a car race and I've always enjoyed going there."
Four classes of American Le Mans Series sports cars will compete in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma, presented by the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa and Foster's Lager. In addition to the GTS class, the field will also include the fast and exotice Prototypes of the P900 and P675 classes, as well as the production-based cars of the GT class. Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, July 26, along with a one-hour "Open Paddock" autograph session at noon (PDT) featuring all drivers in the American Le Mans Series.
The two-hour, 45-minute race will start at noon (PDT) on Sunday, July 27, and will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com. NBC Sports will have live television coverage in North America beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT).
Ticket information is available online at www.infineonraceway.com or by calling the Infineon Raceway ticket office at 1-800-870-RACE.