FELLOWS HOPING TO ADD TO MOSPORT MEMORIES Braselton, Ga. - He is a three-time American Le Mans Series class champion. He has won 24 races, best in ALMS history. He drives for Corvette Racing. Is it any wonder why Ron Fellows has such a ...
FELLOWS HOPING TO ADD TO MOSPORT MEMORIES
Braselton, Ga. - He is a three-time American Le Mans Series class champion. He has won 24 races, best in ALMS history. He drives for Corvette Racing. Is it any wonder why Ron Fellows has such a strong following?
His fans say no. Nothing Fellows does these days surprises them. Winning races? He has done it at least once every year since 2000, and he has had at least three victories each season since 2001. Qualifying on the class pole? Fellows has 15 in his career, trailing only teammate Olivier Beretta in the ALMS record book.
This weekend, Fellows brings a career full of records, statistics and wins to Mosport International Raceway, site of Sunday's Grand Prix of Mosport. It's Round 8 of the 2005 ALMS, a season that once again sees Fellows and teammate Johnny O'Connell lead the GT1 drivers championship standings. For this race, Fellows has an entire country behind him, pulling for him all the way.
"It's special for me. This is home," said Fellows, who lists seeing the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport as a moment that changed his life. "I don't know a lot of the other drivers have this kind of luxury. It's an hour from home, and this is where I did most of my growing up. My first car racing experience was here, and I've just had a number of great memories of Mosport."
Fellows and O'Connell won three straight years from 2001-03 at Mosport in their Corvette. The 10-turn, 2.459-mile facility should suit their No. 3 Corvette C6-R just fine, as has every other track it has competed on so far this year. And as it has been at each previous round, the toughest competition is expected to come from the No. 4 Corvette duo of Beretta and Oliver Gavin, who won last year and trail Fellows and O'Connell by just 3 points in the drivers championship standings.
Added pressure? Not really, Fellows insisted. He has been coming to Mosport for years and probably could drive it in his sleep (not that the GM brass would let him). But you get the point.
"We've got a lot of miles there," Fellows said. "It's one track that is an extremely fast track. The corners are long and fast, there is a lot of elevation change and not a lot of room for error. You have to give the place a lot of respect. The first few laps in a car can be intimidating. You have to work up to speed. They don't make tracks like this any more.
"We definitely want to win in terms of the points chase," he added. "For me, it's more a personal thing because you want to do well in front of the hometown crowd. The bottom line is that you do your best. I don't know any other way to approach it. I go to every race trying to be as fast as possible and work with the team to get the car to our liking."
The autograph line for Corvette Racing at each ALMS event usually is the longest in the paddock. It may be even longer for Saturday's session with Fellows being at home. His schedule this week includes a host of media hits, promotional outings and even a seat in this weekend's SPEED World Challenge GT race for Team Cadillac.
But it's just another busy week for Fellows at his home track.
"That is the difficult part of racing in your backyard," admits O'Connell, who already has raced near home at Road Atlanta once this season, and will do it again for Petit Le Mans. "There are more demands on your time. But that's part of the job."
Added Fellows, "Everyone wants to give you well wishes, and you do your best to accommodate everybody. I think people understand that your job is to drive a race car, and it's a little tougher doing double-duty on the weekend."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Grand Prix of Mosport, set for 3 p.m. EDT Sept. 4 at Mosport International Raceway, with live coverage on SPEED Channel. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 3. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing & Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.