St. James, Halsmer, Volk and Schroeder And TRV Motorsport Records Supreme Performance In the Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 - The primarily all-volunteer crew of TRV Motorsport...
St. James, Halsmer, Volk and Schroeder And TRV Motorsport Records Supreme Performance In the Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 - The primarily all-volunteer crew of TRV Motorsport almost pulled off a major upset in the 36th annual Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona International Speedway Saturday and Sunday, running ninth overall and sixth in the Can-Am class all night. The Toledo, Ohio-based crew and drivers Lyn St. James of Indianapolis; Pete Halsmer of Bloomfield, Mich.; Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J.; and driver/team owner Tom Volk of Blissfield, Mich., worked like a well-oiled team and had the Supreme Exhaust Systems Products Chevy Kudzu No. 95 in eighth-place overall and fifth in class at 9 a.m. Sunday. Unfortunately a few minutes later the ring and pinion failed. The damage was too severe to repair in time to finish the race, and the team was forced to retire just three and a half hours short of its goal.
The official order of finish found the TRV team in 25th overall and seventh in the Can-Am class. The event was won by the MOMO Ferrari of Gianpiero Moretti, Didier Theys, Arie Luyendyk and Mauro Baldi, who competed 711 laps on the 3.56-mile road course. A total of 74 teams competed in the race, America's premier road racing endurance event.
The finishing order does not reflect the team's accomplishment. After qualifying 24th, the car developed brake problems early and dropped as far back as 43rd overall only two hours into the event. The team battled back steadily, however, and at midnight cracked the top 10. It stayed there throughout the night and had just moved into eighth overall and fifth in class before the transmission failure left Schroeder stranded in the infield coming onto the bank of NASCAR Turn Two at 9:09 a.m. Sunday, just a few hours short of the finish.
"The effort was incredible, and what I'm most pleased about is that it was a total team effort all around," said Volk. "We were on the leader board all night long, which is amazing considering the competition we were up against. There were teams with seven- and 10-times the financial backing that we have which did not do as well, and I thank the entire team for their perseverance and hard work. The effort was still a major accomplishment for everyone on the team, our primary sponsor and our associate sponsors, Purity Farms and Green Acres Medical Exercise Associates. All four of the drivers drove consistently well and the pit crew had truly amazing performances."
"We were pleased with the way the car ran," said St. James, a six-time competitor in the Indy 500. "We ran a consistent race, and the team was really focused and put in a supreme effort. I'd love to be racing these cars more, but I'll be spending my time preparing for the Indy 500."
Although Volk, St. James and Halsmer had participated in the event before and St. James and Halsmer are even multiple-time class winners of this race, it was Schroeder's first experience in such an event.
"I'm ready to go again," said Schroeder even before the checkered fell. "Every driver wants to have this race on his resume and every driver wants to run at Daytona. Getting the opportunity to take the green in this race was something I'll always remember. Running in the top-10 for so long in your first race here is unusual. Everyone on the TRV Motorsport team and Tom, Lyn and Pete were great, and I learned a lot.
"This was totally different from anything I'd ever done in racing before," he added. "The track and the car were new to me. I'd never driven in an event this long, and I'd never driven in races that were as long as the double and triple stints I did. I'd never done so many pit stops in a race. I'd never run with so many different classes of cars on the track simultaneously. I'd never raced at night with headlights before. I've never had to prepare myself to race mentally so many different times in such a short time span. I also have never been part of a team experience like this, with several drivers sharing one car. The whole thing was quite different, but I enjoyed it a lot."
Informal pit notes chronicling the team's experience follow.
HOURLY NOTES: TRV MOTORSPORTS IN THE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA
The initial plan is that the drivers will compete in approximately 45-minute stints, since they'll have to make a pit stop around that time for gas. The rotation will be Jeret Schroeder, Tom Volk, Lyn St. James and Pete Halsmer. The first three drivers will do single stints the first time, but Halsmer will do a double. Then it's up to each individual driver to decide if he wants to do a single or double or even triple stint, depending on how he or she feels. Mostly they'll do double stints after the first one.
11:30 a.m.: Right before the race someone steals Schroeder's helmet visor in the garage area, but the Simpson representatives save the day by providing a replacement.
The Start (Saturday, 1 p.m.): Schroeder starts race 24th in a field of 74.
He gets off to a great start, moving up from 24th to 17th. Then about two laps into the race his shoulder harness pops open.
About five laps into the race he dips down onto the apron in the esses and drives with his knees while he snaps it back into place. Then he gets back up to speed again quickly, and he really didn't lose much time or many positions despite that problem.
Pit stop at 1 something. Schroeder out and Volk gets in. The brakes are causing a really bad vibration.
Hour 1 Report (2 p.m.): The TRV team is 19th overall and 12th in Can-Am class.
Pit stop at 2:37: Gas and tires. Volk gets out and St. James gets in. The brake vibration is really bad.
Hour 2 Report (3 p.m.): 20th overall; 11th in class.
Pit stop at 3:28: Gas, tires, brakes. St. James gets out and Halsmer gets in. Before Halsmer climbs in though the crew does a complete brake job in the pits in 10 minutes, and the team drops to 43rd overall. A warped brake rotor is the suspected culprit.
Hour 3 Report (4 p.m.): 36th overall; 13th in class.
Pit stop at 4:47: gas. Halsmer is doing a double stint and he's still in the car.
Hour 4 Report (5 p.m.): 27th overall; 13th in class.
Pit stop at 5:37: gas, tires; Halsmer comes out and Schroeder goes in. As soon as Halsmer gets out and just before Schroeder gets in, crewman John Neis dives head-first into the cockpit to remove a golfball-sized marble of rubber that flew into the cockpit and has been rolling around the floorboards by Halsmer's feet.
Halsmer has a tiny speck of metal in his left eye. Efforts to remove it in the pits are unsuccessful and he heads for the infield medical center. He says the car is really loose.
It's starting to get dark and there are shadows various places on the course.
At 5:52 p.m., lights are to be turned on for all cars.
Hour 5 Report (6 p.m.): 23rd overall; 12th in class. Halsmer is driving and we're working our way back up through the standings.
Pit stop at 6:05 p.m.; gas and rear sway bar adjustment. Schroeder is doing a double stint so he stays in. The crew starts to eat lasagna, which they heat up in a microwave in the pits.
Hour 6 Report (7 p.m.): 20th overall; 10th in class.
Pit stop at 7:03 p.m.; Schroeder comes out and Volk goes in. Gas and tires. Schroeder says the car is really loose, but he doesn't know if it's because the track conditions are changing or the car is changing or the tires are going away. He suspects it is a combination of all of these things.
Full-course yellow at 7:19 p.m. Green back out at 7:33 p.m.
Full-course yellow at 7:40 p.m. Green back out at 7:53 p.m.
Hour 7 Report (8 p.m.): 17th overall; ninth in class.
Pit stop at 8:47 p.m. Gas and tires. Volk exits car after his double stint and St. James gets in.
Hour 8 Report (9 p.m. One-third done): 15th overall and seventh in class.
Full-course yellow around 9:25 p.m.
Hour 9 Report (10 p.m.): 15th overall and seventh in class.
Pit stop at 10:32. Gas and tires. St. James comes out after doing a double stint and Halsmer gets in. Before he gets in Halsmer says his eye is OK. That's a relief.
When St. James comes over the wall she is missing a glove. It's not on pit road so we suspect it's still in the car. She says the car is handling really well. She says it's loose, but it's driveable. She also says that some of the GT1 cars are really flying, and you just have to let them go. She does a quick ESPN2 interview.
Hour 10 Report (11 p.m.): 12th overall and seventh in class.
11:45: We break into the top 10 overall and we're sixth in class!
Hour 11 Report (12 a.m.): Ninth overall and fifth in class! The crew is now eating hot chicken and vegetables. Another option is to heat up potato soup or chili in the microwave in the pits.
Pit stop at 12:11; gas and tires. Halsmer gets out and Schroeder goes in. Halsmer says the car is still a little loose, but it's not bad. He says we have to keep an eye on the temperature,, but everything is going well.
St. James' glove was in the car. It's back in the pits now.
Black-flag at 12:41 a.m. The officials call Schroeder into the pits for consultation because some other team reported that we don't have any tail lights. Schroeder pulls into the pits, stops, and proves that we do indeed have tail lights. They don't do anything about the lap that just cost us, though.
Full-course yellow at 12:52 a.m. Schroeder comes into the pits and we hold him there a little ourselves because the car is running hot. The crew cleans the radiator and we hope that will help. The fact that this occurred under yellow is as good a break as that black flag was a bad break.
Hour 12 Report (1 a.m.; half-way): Still ninth overall and fifth in class. We're six laps out of fourth place in the Can-Am class and we're 27 laps out of the overall and Can-Am lead.
Volk, who is a driver as well as the team owner, is very happy. He wants a photo of the scoring pylon, which now shows our car number, 95.
Full-course yellow at 1:24 a.m.
Pit stop at 1:36 for gas. Schroeder is still in the car.
Green back out at 1:44 a.m.
Hour 13 Report (2 a.m.): Still ninth overall and fifth in class. Schroeder is still in the car. Volk is waiting to get in. He's getting chilly and he wishes "Enduroman" would come in so he could drive. If he'd known he was going to be out this long he would have slept longer back in the motorbus.
Full-course yellow at 2:15 a.m.
Green back out at 2:25 a.m.
2:30ish: Schroeder finally comes in and gets out; that was a triple stint. Volk gets in. Schroeder says the car is running and handling the best it ever has; he says he stayed out so long because he was having fun. He says it's not overheating, but someone worries aloud about the transmission. Some of the crew members were huddling under electric blankets before that pit stop.
2:41: Unofficially, Max Papis sets a new fastest Can-Am lap for this race with a 1:41.250. He also held the old mark at 1:41.951.
Hour 14 Report (3 a.m.): We're still ninth overall and fifth in class. Volk is behind the wheel and soldiering on.
Pit stop at 3:23 for gas. Volk is still driving.
Hour 15 Report (4 a.m.): We're still ninth overall and fifth in class.
Full-course yellow, 4:13 a.m.
Green flag, 4:23 a.m.
Pit stop at 4:21 for gas and tires. Volk comes out and St. James goes in. The crew blew out the radiator during that pit stop too. The transmission seems to be O.K. Unofficially there are 39 cars still running in the race. The leaders of the Can-Am division are running faster than the current race record.
Hour 16 Report (5 a.m.; two-thirds done): We're still ninth overall and fifth in class. We're nine laps down from fourth place in class, and 35 laps down from the overall and Can-Am leader.
Full-course yellow at 5:19 a.m. St. James pits twice under yellow, primarily to clean the radiator.
Green flag at 5:33 a.m.
At 5:45 a.m., a peek into the pit stall finds only three TRV crew members who look awake. The rest are dozing, some wrapped in blankets. They've learned the technique of dozing in 10-minute increments. Pete Halsmer is cleaning his visor in preparation for his upcoming stints.
Full-course caution at 5:58. This proves to be a God-send. The crew leaps into action and St. James pits at 6:08, gets out of the car, and Halsmer gets in. The crew blows out the radiator, gives the car gas and tires, and does a complete brake job in 8 minutes. The team drops one position overall to 10th and one position in Can-Am to sixth.
Hour 17 Report (6 a.m.): At 6 a.m. we're still listed as ninth overall and fifth in Can-Am. Due to the work at the changing of the hour, however, a couple of minutes later the team drops one position overall to 10th and one position in Can-Am to sixth. We're one lap down from ninth place overall and we're two laps down from fifth place in Can-Am.
To move up overall, we have to pass the No. 97 GT-2 Porsche 911 of Peter Kitchak of Excelsior, Minn.; Toni Seiler of Switzerland; Wido Roessler of Germany and Angelo Zadura of Italy. To move up to fifth in Can-Am and eighth overall we have to pass the No. 16 Dyson Riley and Scott car driven by James Weaver, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Dorsey Schroeder, Butch Leitzinger and Rob Dyson, which started this race in fifth in what seems likes weeks ago.
Although they pronounce their last names the same way, Dorsey Schroeder and Jeret Schroeder aren't related. The usually root for each other in their individual series; this is the first time they've actually competed in the same race. Before the race they wished each other well and promised to try not to have the two Schroeders in the race wreck into each other.
Hour 18 Report (7 a.m.): We're ninth overall and sixth in class.
Pit stop at 7:05 a.m. for gas. Halsmer is still behind the wheel.
Pit stop at 7:47. Halsmer comes out and Schroeder goes in. The crew blows out the radiator again as well as gases the car and changes tires. The stop takes 10 minutes.
Hour 19 Report (8 a.m.): We're ninth overall and sixth in class. The crew is eating breakfast of eggs and ham, quiche, rolls, danish, melon and orange slices.
At 8:24 a.m. Max Papis lowers his unofficial lap record to 1:40.545.
Volk is on deck. He is extremely happy about the way the team has performed, and praises all the crew members and the drivers for their excellent team effort. We've been on the leader board all night long, and hopes are high for a good finish. There are still some concerns, however, as in addition to the overheating problem, the transmission is acting up and the clutch is slipping. Schroeder is still behind the wheel.
Pit stop at 8:37 a.m. for gas and tires.
Hour 20 Report (9 a.m.): We're eighth overall and fifth in class, as the No. 39 Can-Am car of Jim Matthews, David Murry, Hurley Haywood and Derek Bell drops from fifth overall and third in class to ninth overall and sixth in class.
9:09 a.m. Schroeder reports that the gearbox blew up. It's bad enough that he can't get it in gear and drive it back to the pits or the garage area. He's in a bad spot too, over near the horseshoe turn by the backstretch. We don't know if he'll be towed back in or if he'll be stranded out there until the end of the race. If we can get him back into the garage area we'll try to repair the car enough to be back in time for the checkered.
The team tows the car back to the garage. Crew members tear the transmission apart and discover it's the ring and pinion, which can't be fixed in time to finish the race. Although we're disappointed, this was still an incredible performance by a mostly volunteer crew against big-buck teams.
Hour 21 Report (10 a.m.): We've retired, but we're shown as 13th overall and fifth in class.
Hour 22 Report (11 a.m.): 21st overall and sixth in class.
Hour 23 Report (12 p.m.): 23rd overall and seventh in class.
Hour 24 Report (1 p.m.): Official finish is 25th overall and seventh in class.