LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 9, 2001) - American Viperacing (AVR) will make their 2001 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series debut this weekend in the ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course. The red, black and white ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 9, 2001) - American Viperacing (AVR) will make their 2001 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series debut this weekend in the ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course.
The red, black and white #45 Dodge Viper GTS-R is piloted in the GTS class by car-owner, Tom Weickardt and series rookie, Gene Martindale. AVR came away with two entries on the podium in its first race, the American Le Mans Series opener at Texas Motor Speedway, and excellent results in the 12 Hours at Sebring classic in Florida this year. They are 2nd in ALMS GTS Class team points.
Driver/Owner, Tom Weickardt (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), drives the #44 Viper GTS-R entry in the ALMS, capturing 3rd place at Texas Motor Speedway. "We look forward to a successful weekend here at Mid Ohio," said Weickardt. "We're getting excellent track time. It's a great opportunity to put Gene (Martindale) in the car under race conditions. With the traffic and competition, we get a chance to develop our 'creative' driving skills."
In his spare time, Tom is the President & CEO of ESP, Inc., which supplies electronic surge protection systems for most of the photocopier market.
Gene Martindale (Holly, Mich.), while a new face to Grand Am, is not new to Vipers. Early in his career, when Gene was racing in the SCCA, he scored the Dodge Viper's first ever win in a national race. "Being a development driver for the Viper GTS-R truly helps when it comes to reading and learning the car for a race weekend," said Martindale.
As a former member of Team Viper, Gene was a factory test driver for the Dodge Viper GTS-R and also had the distinct privilege of being the first person to take a hot lap in a Dodge Viper GTS-R. Not content with just developing Vipers for racing professionals, Martindale went on to develop the ACR version of the Dodge Viper for grassroots racers, which aspiring racers can purchase at their local Dodge dealer. Gene also lent his services to Viperspeed, the 1999 Speedvision World Challenge GT Champions, where he acted as test driver and technical director. Currently when Gene isn't behind the wheel, he is the race engineer for American Viperacing.
"Coming from the ALMS, this weekend is great for getting used to the Grand Am rules, equipment and competition," said Martindale. "It helps us prepare for major events, like the Rolex 24, which is a possibility in our future. It's also great for us, since our shop is so close, in Auburn Hills, Michigan."
American Viperacing has been fighting a poor-handling car all weekend. "It was tough to put the power down where we needed it," explained Martindale. "We made a few discoveries over two days of testing and made major changes that should help us in the race."
"I appreciate Tom (Weickardt) giving me this opportunity and making this happen."
Martindale qualified the AVR Viper GTS-R today, 4th in class, with continued handling problems.
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.
American Viperacing will continue their bid in the ALMS GTS class with two entries at Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, California, July 20-22, 2001.
The 3 Hour ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic begins at 2:15 pm, ET and will be televised June 24th at 12pm ET on Speedvision. Please confirm your local listing.