Knighthawk red hot at Road America 500. July 10, 2002 Englewood, CO -- KnightHawk's hopes for a podium finish at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin's Road America 500 almost went "down in flames". The team's midnight black and Halloween-orange MG Lola...
Knighthawk red hot at Road America 500.
July 10, 2002 Englewood, CO -- KnightHawk's hopes for a podium finish at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin's Road America 500 almost went "down in flames".
The team's midnight black and Halloween-orange MG Lola 675 LMP made its first race appearance since bursting into flames at this season's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Lightening might never strike twice -- but apparently fire will.
With Intersport's pole position MG Lola 675 LMP failing to start and stuck in the pits at the 125 lap event's green flag, KnightHawk started the race first in class -- with Gestetner sponsored Chad Block behind the wheel. Obvious to the television viewers, and the circuit's corner workers, were licks of flame emanating from behind the sleek open-cockpit prototype shortly after the race began. At 29 minutes into the race, the car was behind the wall and in the team's paddock -- with the fire truck standing by. Block was unhurt. The damage was minimal. The team was relieved.
"We weren't really sure what the problem was at first," said Block. "I didn't see any fire, or smell it or feel it. I was told over the radio to bring it in -- that there were flames coming out from behind the car. I never really felt that I was in any danger, which helped me bring the car in swiftly and safely. It isn't readily apparent what caused it -- but I'm confident that the cracker-jack crew will solve the problem quickly. I'm ready to get back in."
"There was a coupling on the turbo that worked itself loose," said Mel Hawkins. "We suspect that some vibration caused this to happen. When it came loose some oil spilled and the heat of the engine and the engine compartment caused it to catch fire. The damage was both minor and repairable."
The Road America event marked the return of the much-missed Hawkins, who took a bye at the team's last challenge -- the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Every team member -- to a man -- was very happy to have him back.
The time behind the wall was all it took to keep the team out of a very probable class win. In a sport where only seconds often separate winners from losers, a stint behind the wall, even a relatively short one such as KnightHawk's, created a deficit that simply could not be made up -- even over the course of long race like Road America's 4 hour and 15 minute battle.
Nonetheless, and to their credit, the KnightHawk squad soldiered on -- as though they were still first in class with competitors nipping at their tail. This and the determination of the team's three drivers -- Hawkins, Knight and Block -- is what delivered the teams third in class podium finish.
"I'm glad that our problems were not too serious, it did set us back -- but that's racing," added Block. "It's always the little things that cost you. We made up some serious downtime and proved to the fans yet again that we can use our heads and soldier on. I'd like to thank Steve and Mel for getting me here, the team for keeping us in contention, and Gestetner for supporting the effort. We'll be ready to go for the win again in D.C. -- and I'm hopeful that we won't be disappointed."
"The Road America race for the KnightHawk team was marked by trouble as well as triumph," said Steve Knight. "We had a small mechanical problem at the beginning of the race that took us off the tarmac for about 40 minutes. After rejoining the field we charged back to take a third place podium finish. We're now tied for first place in the LMP 675 Team Championship. We're really happy about that -- and about heading on to the Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington D.C. Hopefully, we'll take another podium in our nation's capitol.
The team is very happy and proud for the support of teammate Block by Gestetner. Gestetner offers leading-edge digital document management solutions, including digital duplicators, digital imaging systems, network laser printers and facsimile machines that deliver document output solutions for businesses of all sizes -- at speeds from 13-105ppm. For information on Gestetner systems, please visit www.GestetnerUSA.com.
Information on KnightHawk Racing can be garnered at www.knighthawkracing.com and on Chad Block at www.chadblock.com.