Notes of Interest 2002-05-20

** MID-OHIO, ROAD AMERICA NEXT FOR ALMS -- The American Le Mans Series will take a few weeks off from its schedule to allow teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 15-16. Sixteen ALMS teams will race in the classic endurance...

** MID-OHIO, ROAD AMERICA NEXT FOR ALMS -- The American Le Mans Series will take a few weeks off from its schedule to allow teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 15-16. Sixteen ALMS teams will race in the classic endurance event next month.

Two weeks after Le Mans, the series returns to serious business with back-to-back weekend events. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, will host an event on June 30, and the series then makes its first-ever appearance at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on July 7.

** TAYLOR TESTS WASHINGTON CIRCUIT -- Wayne Taylor, driver for Team Cadillac, was the first American Le Mans Series competitor to drive on the newly-paved RFK Stadium circuit that will host the Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C., on July 21.

At a recent media unveiling, Taylor joined race co-founder Chris Lencheski, DC Sports & Entertainment Commission President Bobby Goldwater and Cadillac marketing manager Steve Rosenblum in a ceremonial first lap around the 1.7-mile circuit that adjoins the famous stadium. Taylor later took members of the media on laps around the circuit in a street-version Cadillac.

Designed by well-known track planner Lance Schafer, the circuit was recently paved with a specially-designed polymer asphalt weighing more than 17,500 tons. The circuit will soon be surrounded by concrete barriers, tire barriers and a spectator fence, with the work scheduled to be completed in early July.

** CORVETTE DRIVERS VISIT PERSIAN GULF -- The drivers for Corvette Racing had a special experience following the recent testing session at Le Mans. Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim spent five days visiting U.S. Navy personnel in the Persian Gulf as part of the Navy's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division. They were joined by GM executives Gary Claudio and Doug Fehan, as well as parttime Corvette drivers Franck Freon and Oliver Gavin. The group visited military installations, including an aircraft carrier.

"First off it was great over there," said Collins. "The hospitality was unbelievable. The troops were amazing. Them seeing us and us seeing them at work, we interacted very well as far as us appreciating their job and they appreciate us coming to see them. At first when they said we were going to the Middle East, I'm like well ok. It really didn't seem like something you really wanted to be doing or going some place you had no business being. Bahrain is a beautiful place. It's a free trade country, kind of a neutral zone. It has absolutely fantastic architecture and the people are nice there. Everybody on the aircraft carriers, submarine and bases gave us great hospitality.

"Our troops work their butts off," he said. "It is about 105 degrees during the day with 98 percent humidity. Literally there just isn't any time to rest. Especially on the aircraft carrier, its just 16-18 hour shifts. It's a dangerous hostile environment, especially on the aircraft carrier. "The war is called Operation Enduring Freedom and the best part about it is that it's not just us," said Collins. "Everybody is over their, the British and French. There is one Canadian ship and the Royal Navy. All sorts of people are involved, because they have had enough craziness and they want it to stop. They are giving it their best whether they have one ship or 20 ships."

"The whole trip was amazing," said O'Connell. "Back in 1995 I actually went on board the Kitty Hawk and spent the night there. So, I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect, but we didn't land and it also wasn't war time. Landing on the aircraft carrier was like nothing anyone can ever experience. It was amazing.

"Seeing how hard everyone works, I think that was the thing that impressed me most," he said. "All these young guys and girls are working so hard and really in difficult conditions, because it is over 100 degrees and humid. The place just smells like diesel all the time. So it's nothing glamorous. They are giving 110% effort and they are into what they do. It's really totally cool. They've got jets taking off 24-7. We got to see Nighthawks. We got to meet fighter pilots, but you also got to meet the engineers and the people that keep the boat running. To me the engineers are most impressive. Because they are working down in the boiler rooms and stuff, it's 140 degrees. It's a very miserable existence that those guys are living. And they are so positive about everything. It certainly made me feel proud to be American. "In so many aspects the military runs just like a race team does except on a much bigger scale," said O'Connell. "You have the mechanics on a race team much similar to the crew on the ship, the pilots and drivers similarity there and all the management for the Navy, the Captain and all those guys. It was a neat experience for all of us."

DISAPPOINTMENT AT SEARS POINT FOR TEAM BUCKNUM -- Team Bucknum Racing, a new entrant on the American Le Mans Series this season in the LMP 675 class, had a disappointing weekend at Sears Point and had to withdraw both of its cars before the race.

The team had two Pilbeam MP84-Nissan machines on hand. One car blew an engine in practice on Friday afternoon, while the second car experienced an engine part failure during Saturday's qualifying session. Overheating woes had knocked both cars out of the Sebring 12-hour event that opened the ALMS season in March.

Despite its problems, the team remains committed to competing on the ALMS.

"It was a tough weekend," said driver Chris McMurry, a resident of Phoenix. "But we'll get it together and be back at Mid-Ohio."

SEARS POINT RESULTS REVISED -- The Team Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello, which had apparently finished third in the GTS class in Sunday's event at Sears Point Raceway, has been excluded from the results by the Stewards of the Meeting per Article 5.4.3d of the ACO 2002 Technical Regulations (airbox). The exclusion moved the Konrad Motorsports Saleen S7R to third place in GTS in the results.

-alma-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Wayne Taylor , Kelly Collins , Oliver Gavin , Chris McMurry
Teams Corvette Racing