MAKING THINGS HAPPEN Recently gathered at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for some congenial conversation and dinner were a racing-family's two generations: the older, having realized success as owner, driver and constructor but ...
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN
Recently gathered at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for some congenial conversation and dinner were a racing-family's two generations: the older, having realized success as owner, driver and constructor but today largely chilled by comparison; and, the younger, presently in the midst of climbing success' ladder.
Not surprisingly the evening's conversation largely revolved around racing, but creeping into the discussion was a question with which every parent is familiar: "Are we there, yet?"
Though youth and its seemingly ever present anxiousness about "getting there" was at work, that particular evening's question didn't have a doggone thing to do with child seats, vacationing, bathroom stops or boredom kicking-in roughly 10-minutes into a 3-hour trip.
"Winning" was exactly that on the minds of the more youthful inquisitors. It seemed as though it just wasn't coming fast enough to meet expectations.
"It'll come," the father said matter-of-factly, as though the issue already was a settled matter in his mind if not in a current record-keeper's journal.
"Talent is rarely denied when provided sufficient opportunity to shine," the sole, non-family member on-hand pontificated, afterward half-expecting the others to swoon for such an astute, keen and timely observation.
Having previously been mostly immersed in the evening meal's preparation, the family matriarch had been quiet through much of the pre-supper conversation but, as would most mothers, her "radar" was piqued with her offspring's angst, triggering that innate desire of mothers everywhere to comfort and reassure those to whom they'd given life.
"Getting that first major success is difficult to achieve and almost always takes longer than anyone would like," she said, "But it will come.
"When it does, you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll win a second time. For while the pursuit of success takes some time and often causes you to question yourself and your ability, winning somehow becomes easier after getting the first time."
Less than 48 hours later her youngest would commandingly vault into the feature race's lead and was pulling away from his pursuers laps later when, without warning, his car failed.
Afterward lost in disappointment that penetrated deeply, beneath hidden eyes the youngster's lips couldn't form even the simplest word - likely fearing loss of tenuous control claimed over his emotions.
"Your time will come," his mother said while again expressing her unshakable belief in him. "It sometimes feels like it'll never come but it will. I promise."
With her words still hanging in the air - words similar to those she'd expressed many times previously to all her children - one can only imagine what that child thought at that moment.
Many of you reading this likely have already correctly surmised the above referenced "youngster" is 24-year-old Brian Frisselle, co-driver with Mark Wilkins of AIM Autosports' No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype, which campaigns in the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
His mother: Terrye Frisselle.
You probably also know that Frisselle, Wilkins and their No. 61 AIM teammates would two weeks later win at Montreal and in another week's time win again at Watkins Glen International's Crown Royal 200 - their second Rolex Series race in as many tries in the wake of their painful Birmingham defeat weeks earlier.
Sadly, some children will never truly know a mother's deep, unshakable belief in and love for her children.
Conversely, one can also only wonder what Brian Frisselle is thinking today about those prophetic words his mother repeated again and again.
Unique plan paying off.
The No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley of Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins is the brainchild of Phil Nelles and is "supported by the company's principals Andrew Bordin," along with "Ian and Keith Willis," according to the team's Web site, www.aimautosport.com.
TeamAIM ("AIM" being an acronym for "Apprenticeship in Motorsports") is constituted as a "not-for-profit organization" and has a self-charged purpose to "train and fund the next generation of Canadian racing professional" - an idea whose time evidently has come.
Whether TeamAIM pioneered its corporate plan or has followed an already existing model, since 1995 it's provided one or more "pieces" for 40-or-so people (not just drivers) who might not have been able to otherwise demonstrate race-world worthiness.
TeamAIM has enabled Canadians Wilkins and engineer Ian Willis, who first worked together there in 2001, to develop a relationship that's lasted the better part of seven years. With engineers often following drivers from one team to the next, the importance of Wilkins and Willis' evidently successful ability to communicate with the other really can't be overstated.
Success is obviously visiting the present-day TeamAIM camp, but other notable past TeamAIM names include Sam Hornish and Andrew Ranger.
David Empringham is among those who have benefited from TeamAim, as has up-and-comer Daniel Herrington, who will join the No. 61 team as its third driver for September's Sunchaser 1000 enduro at Utah's Miller Motorsports Park (the last such there, by the way).
Given the depth and breadth of racing in North America - from Karting to NASCAR; two-wheels and four - moving up the sport's ladder of success is a daunting task for even the best of drivers, for there are far more would-be great drivers than available seats and funding often permits.
Though this writer is not terribly high on the "it takes a village" thing, he does believe caring people having purpose (not forced or coerced) can substantially help other people.
TeamAIM has much about which to be proud, not the least of which includes giving some very talented people a chance to show it.
Although considered one of sportscars best-ever drivers (and future hall-of-famer), Wayne Taylor also understands the value of devoting considerable energy to finding sponsorships.
As many know, Wayne Taylor Racing today fields the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac-Riley Daytona Prototype in Grand-Am's Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Taylor is a shrewd, hardworking and, by many standards, successful businessman outside of his racing prowess. Yet, when sons Rick and Jordan started racing Karts about three seasons ago, Taylor wasted no time in schooling the budding racers in the art of finding sponsorships.
In simple words that understate their hard work, the two learned how to research, prepare and then present that information to sponsors. And the two already have done so, time and again.
When Rick Taylor's name was far from gracing anything but a Skip Barber Racing School line-up, ace public relations representative Barbara Burns (who at the time oversaw SunTrust racing's media efforts) asked this writer to start firing hardball questions at young Taylor so as to prepare him for the very important, ever-growing public relations side of motorsports. Rick's little brother, Jordan (who's no slouch, either), soon thereafter entered the picture, too.
Taylor's self-marketing has enabled him to join another Frisselle, 26-year-old Burt, in the No. 47 Brach's Candy Ford-Dallara fielded by Kevin Doran's organization.
Frisselle and Taylor - who is squeezing a calendar also filled with his engineering studies at the University of Central Florida - have already began the hunt for 2009 sponsorships.
I WANNA BE LIKE ...
"... GAINSCO," because, according to No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold Ford-Riley engineer Ian Willis, "Bob Stallings is the epitome of the underdog, small-owner team who can stand toe-to-toe with the big teams and win."
"If we could emulate (the No. 99) GAINSCO's success - and that's what we've sought to do this year - then we could truly feel as though we've accomplished something. Every member of our team - in the pits, shop or behind the wheel - has worked to be as good as the GAINSCO team."
NASCAR's BEST HANG
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya (and immediate family), Jeff Burton (and son), Dario Franchitti, A.J. Allmendinger and others were in various Rolex Series' Watkins Glen Crown Royal 200 race pits, cheering on those they know, as well as getting in some Rolex Series schooling.
The new No. 4 AT&T CHM Daytona Prototype team was out in full force.
Drivers Andy Wallace and Andy Lally were candid in expressing doubts as to how well their new Gen-2 Crawford DP008 would finish at race end but one also doubts they thought it'd be 19th of the 20 DPs in the race, running only 42 of the races 82 laps.
Still, the team was on hand more to collect data and better understand the DP08 as the team moves toward a fulltime 2009 campaign.
And lest anyone think Richard Childress might be detached from the effort, the man spent a huge amount of time hanging in the team's paddock space and was atop the AT&T war wagon during the car's race run.
In conversations with him it's clear Childress is invigorated with the new challenge.
"We've not come over here to fool around," Childress said. "There ain't nothing I care to do better than win."
Fans might want to look for Childress' NASCAR team members to compete in a certain, upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona.
DC Williams, written exclusively for Motorsport.com