BRASELTON, Ga., Tuesday, October 9, 2001-Shane Lewis competed in his fourth Petit Le Mans this past weekend at Road Atlanta. The Jupiter, Florida driver raced the ...
BRASELTON, Ga., Tuesday, October 9, 2001-Shane Lewis competed in his fourth Petit Le Mans this past weekend at Road Atlanta. The Jupiter, Florida driver raced the #12 Aspen Knolls Racing/ MCR Callaway C12-R to 12th in GT-class, 24th overall, in the new American endurance classic. Lewis and his co-drivers, Bob Mazzuoccola and Cort Wagner, started eighth in class, 31st overall, and completed 221 laps in the 10 hour or 1,000 kilometer event before succumbing to a broken left-rear stub axle while Wagner was driving.
"I guess you can say that we drove the wheels off this Aspen Knolls car! It is really unfortunate to end on this note," offered Lewis while kneeling beside the car reviewing the left rear suspension once the car returned to paddock. "The guys at Michael Colucci Racing (MCR) really put in a lot of effort to get us here and to make this car more competitive. The MCR guys did a great job but there was nothing any of us could do about the stub axle breaking."
The broken axle was not the first of the weekend. Lewis, who is still in physical rehabilitation from surgery to his right leg, also fell victim to a similar failure in testing at Road Atlanta. On the Sunday prior to the Petit the left-front stub axle broke sending the wheel and tire assembly into a nearby tree as Lewis was attempting to bring the car up to speed. The 1998 PROFESSIONAL SPORTS CAR RACING Rising Star recipient was able to save the car and bring it back to pit lane for repairs. The work was done it in time for official on-track activities at mid-week. The Callaway C12-R has been under extensive development by MCR since last racing in June. The process has generated multiple changes to the original configuration of the car including a new transmission that greatly improved the cars drivability.
"We didn't have a car this weekend that was going to beat the BMW's on outright speed," reflected Lewis about the weekend's efforts. "However, it was very important for us to finish this race so we could learn more about the car and what its prospects are. The car shows a lot of potential, we just have to get it there. Development of any new car is not easy and this is a completely new package in every respect. We'll have to examine where we are with the program and determine what our plans will be for 2002. The American Le Mans Series is so competitive right now and with factory involvement so high right now it makes it tough on the budgets of the privateer. It leaves you with several interesting choices including doing something unique, like the Callaway, or going out and buying something off the shelf, like a Porsche or Saleen. You know what you have with the others but you also don't have the chance of getting something that no one else has. That can play to your favor or bite you."
The Callaway made its first North American appearance at Sebring International Raceway in late February pre-season testing. As the lead-driver of the Aspen Knolls team, Lewis drove the C12's only two previous US appearances at the Texas Motor Speedway and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Lewis raced several events in the middle of the year in GTS-class making him one of the few drivers to earn points in two classes.