DC's off the track Miami GP notes

GAINSCO MIAMI GRAND PRIX NOTES As the first of only two riders to have won five or more Daytona 200 motorcycle races, Scott Russell was dubbed "Mr. Daytona" for his uncanny and often thrilling ability to win while atop a motorcycle's two wheels...


GAINSCO MIAMI GRAND PRIX NOTES

As the first of only two riders to have won five or more Daytona 200 motorcycle races, Scott Russell was dubbed "Mr. Daytona" for his uncanny and often thrilling ability to win while atop a motorcycle's two wheels on Daytona International Speedway's road course.

In 2009, Russell intends to climb into the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona's Porsche Cayenne-engined Coyote in an attempt to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona on four wheels.

Gaining inspiration from motorcycle racer Freddie Spencer's 1985 Daytona 200 win, the Georgia-born, high-school dropout quit his garbage-bag-making factory job and began climbing podium stairs the world over.

Russell's five Daytona 200 wins and three AMA Supersport Championships, along with championships in World Superbike and AMA Superbike, help put the 43-year-old in the 2005 Motorcycle Hall of Fame class.

"I rolled into Daytona for only one reason and that was to win. I'd turn onto (U.S.) 92 and something just clicked every time I'd see that track," Russell said of his ability to tame one of racings' toughest tracks.

Intending to settle for nothing less than success, Russell began his transition to sportscar racing Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway by literally taking in the sights and sounds of the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

"I'm going to take it slow. I'm not going to just jump into it," Russell said.

"I'm putting on a headset and listening to the lingo; how the drivers and teams talk. Then, when I understand what they're saying to each other, that'll be the time we'll start talking about me getting some seat time," Russell said, noting that for the time being there's no set schedule for him moving from one to the other.

"I'm going to do this right."

Barging onto the national scene in 1990 by winning his first national motorcycle championship crown, Russell followed it up with a perfect, undefeated 1991 season in the AMA 750 Supersport (later renamed Superstock) class before capturing his first Daytona 200 victory in 1992.

Russell soon thereafter became one of motorcycle racing's all-time fan favorites by bringing unparalleled flash and style to the table.

Yet, as most who regularly watch it will attest, racing can sometimes take an unexpected detour.

Such was the case with Russell, when at start of the 2001 Daytona 200, he was involved in an accident that a veteran observer, Daytona Beach News-Journal Motorsports Editor Godwin Kelly, would at the time report as being "one of the most brutal days of motorcycle racing ever seen at (DIS)."

Twice going into cardiac arrest after suffering massive compound fractures of his left arm and leg, Russell would recover only to announce his retirement one year later at the 2002 Daytona 200, saying, "I'm unable to ride the bike the way I need to ride it."

"That was a real tough time," Russell recalled of his injury and following recovery.

"I didn't really give myself enough time to heal physically or mentally before I'd announced my retirement. I thought I was just plain beat."

Russell would eventually undertake a multi-year physical therapy program that, today, has him "in better shape than I think I've ever been in before," a trim, fit and muscular Russell said Friday.

"I still love rolling into Daytona and I'd like to win there again."

STALLINGS ISN'T INTO STALLING

For sure: the above is a cheap, simplistic play on words.

However, sometimes the most obvious is just what one must go with - especially after spending a day in the Miami heat (honestly, I don't follow pro basketball).

Whatever, one just gets the feeling that Daytona Prototype team owner Bob Stallings (No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac-Riley MkXX) just isn't into "delay."

If you'll be so kind, let's set the scene:

It's a packed Homestead-Miami Speedway media interview room wherein Stallings and Gainsco senior marketing VP Andy Jordan have just made official Christiano da Matta's return to competitive motorsports - with Jimmy Vasser as co-driver - at the May 16-17 Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

After fielding a dozen or so questions, the bases have been pretty well covered when a certain journalist (take a wild guess) asks Stallings if he's started to work on his 2009 Rolex 24 driving team.

Sure enough, Stallings - with the 2009 Rolex 24 only 10 months away - says he's on the verge, possibly within a couple of weeks, of announcing a superstar driver for the race, the likes of which the Rolex 24 has never before seen.

Listening, a certain now-dumbfounded journalist (again, take a wild guess) hasn't even started his 2007 IRS Form 1040.

Sheesh.

ALPHABET RACING

"Racing Through The Alphabet," a third children's book authored by Judy and Scott Pruett, will soon be available.

Straightforward in its approach, the book associates a racing word or term with each letter in the English alphabet.

"One of the most frequent things we've heard from parents and grandparents is that there is a dearth of children's books that have a racing theme," Pruett said Thursday at HMS.

"The books Judy and I write bridge that gap. While helping children or grandchildren to read and speak, one generation of race fan can also pass their love of the sport to another generation."

LIKE A ROCK (STAR)

SpeedSource No. 70 Mazdaspeed Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 owner/driver Sylvain Tremblay said he was "treated like a rock star" in a post- Rolex 24 At Daytona visit to Japan.

"I can handle doing that again," Tremblay said.

Mazda had last visited the Rolex 24 Victory Lane in 2001.

Tremblay, also the 2008 race's GT-class polesitter, co-drove with Nick Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos, finishing ninth-overall in the race.

CRAWFORD GEN-2 DELAY

For reasons not yet entirely clear, Crawford Composites has delayed the introduction of its second-generation Daytona Prototype.

At least one Crawford representative had previously stated the Porsche-powered No. 23 Ruby Tuesday team would use the new body design, if not the chassis, at this weekend's GAINSCO Miami Grand Prix.

The Gen-2 body's unofficial introduction now apparently shifts to no later than the May 16-17 Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, therefore beating a "by June" deadline previously established by Grand American.

Later.
    DC Williams, Exclusively for Motorsport.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Scott Pruett , David Haskell , Scott Russell , Nick Ham , Freddie Spencer
Teams Williams , SpeedSource