LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 10, 2001) - After transmission problems forced American Viperacing to pit their ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 10, 2001) - After transmission problems forced American Viperacing to pit their #45 GTS Dodge Viper GTS-R early in today's ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course, an on-track incident ended their first campaign with the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.
"I'm obviously disappointed that we couldn't finish this race," said driver Gene Martindale (Holly, Mich.). "When I lost 2nd and 3rd gears in the transmission at the start, it became really difficult to pass the slower cars without them. I could get the power down coming out of the corners. Then, as we were coming close to the end of my first stint, I was passing a Corvette coming out of the keyhole. He pinched me off at the exit, which forced me into a spin in the marbles and an unavoidable collision."
Martindale continued, retiring to the pit-lane on lap 32 without the Viper GTS-R's nosepiece. Car owner/driver Tom Weickardt (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) decided that the damage was too severe to continue. They finished 6th in the GTS class.
"We were struggling all weekend with the car and the Corvette ended our worries," said Crew Chief, John Brzustowicz. "Gene did a great job with just 4th gear. He was competitive with the Saleen in certain parts of the track. It's just too bad about the transmission."
"The crew has been up until midnight working on the car this week," said Martindale. "I hate to go out this way. We're not leaving here empty-handed. We've got a good set of data that we can apply to our return to Mid Ohio with the ALMS in August. We're really looking forward to that."
Martindale enjoyed his professional driving debut. "It's a lot of fun running with the Grand Am series. There are a lot of good guys and good cars out there."
American Viperacing will continue their bid in the ALMS GTS class with two entries at Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, California, July 20-22, 2001.
American Viperacing is an independent team of DaimlerChrysler engineers and UAW mechanics. Several members are a part of the factory development GTS-R effort.
"The AVR team is about enthusiasm for the Viper GTS-R," states John Brzustowicz, Crew Chief. "That's why the guys come out here, working on the cars, just for the love of it. American Viperacing as a team name truly describes us. The Viper GTS-R belongs on a racetrack, not in a museum."
AVR's Viper GTS-Rs were built as customer cars by the successful Team Oreca and were campaigned on a limited schedule.
AVR came away with two entries on the podium in its first race, the American Le Mans Series opener at Texas Motor Speedway this year. They are 2nd in ALMS GTS Class team points.
The 3 Hour ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic will be televised June 24th at 12pm ET on Speedvision. Please confirm your local listing.