Mustang GTS nabs pole at Barber The Heritage Motorsports Mustang GTS team didn't really expect to be on the class pole at the sparkling new Barber Motorsports Park just down the road from venerable Talladega. Team owner, Dave Machavern of ...
Mustang GTS nabs pole at Barber
The Heritage Motorsports Mustang GTS team didn't really expect to be on the class pole at the sparkling new Barber Motorsports Park just down the road from venerable Talladega. Team owner, Dave Machavern of Vermont, pointed out that the pole would probably go to the competitor MT900R Mosler which was a consistent split-second faster than the Mustang in earlier practice. But, it didn't happen that way.
But first I must tell you about this FABULOUS new facility. Built with the "permission" of Birmingham residents who approved a $50 million bond, and with the help of Barber Dairy's $5 million contribution (securing the title), the whole facility is well-planned and extraordinarily well executed. Strictly a road-course (no need for another oval just a few miles from Talladega), it has 16 turns, 80 feet of up/down variation and spends 2.3 miles per lap (in fullest configuration). The pavement is typically 45 feet wide and is as silk smooth. The lawns and terraces invite Birminghamites to spread their blankets, and even with weather (only) threatening, there was plenty of that today.
The descriptor for this facility is more in line with "art". This morning activities commenced to jazz music wafting in the balmy air. There are huge, and I mean HUGE, "creatures" dotting the lawns. A giant spider dares drivers to go off course at the tight center-field hair-pin. On everyone's lips are towering ants which have, apparently, captured an unwary motorcyclist. One ant having the motorcycle and the other the rider in their mandibles. Atlas, himself, challenges a giant boulder. The buildings are ultra-modern. There's a glistening multi-story museum. Bronze lions guard "Level 1" paddocks. Hospitality abounds! This is simply a great place to bring the family and enjoy a weekend full of events, 6 races these two days. Congratulations and compliments, Birmingham... event Europe's great race tracks are not so gracious. Learn more at: www.barbermotorsportspark.com and www.grandamerican.com
Back to qualifying... although the prototypes and the GT cars will race together tomorrow, the Daytona Prototypes had a separate qualifying session and were relatively faster here than at other tracks so far this season. Are they just getting faster, or is this track more suited to their weight advantage. We think they have a distinct advantage here.
This left the GT category cars to their own qualifying run, from 1:00 to 1:15 pm today. An intense 15 minutes in which to go out and put our cars in tomorrow's game. The Heritage Motorsports Mustang, driven by Tommy Riggins, promptly went to the top of the highly visible scoring pylon.
The fore-mentioned Mosler was late arriving in the pits, with about 9-1/2 minutes of the 15 remaining. The Heritage team's attention bounced between the Mosler's coming up to speed and the leader board. But, with two laps 'round, the Heritage Motorsports team timer, Ron Ogletree, noticed on his own computer that the Mosler was not appearing in the lap-timing software. He promptly wolf-whistled to the adjoining pit, where the Mosler crew was assigned. "Your transponder isn't working. You'll need to bring your car in for a fix." Evidently, this jogged the Mosler crew's memory, they had failed to re-install their electronic scoring transmitter (transponder). Next lap they were in pit.
All of this left precious few laps (minutes) available for the Justin Bell driven Mosler to try to knock the Mustang off pole, but up to speed it came. Silvery and sleekly reminiscent of the GTP's of yore, the GTS Mosler's first full and hot lap (now with transponder working) saw a local yellow flag near the center-field hairpin (turn 4 at the giant spider). With little more than two minutes remaining, the session received a simultaneous black and checkered flag. The Mosler didn't "document" a single lap and the Mustang remained unchallenged ahead of the GT category line-up, once again barking at the 4 Daytona Prototypes' heals.
The Heritage Mustang GTS qualified at 1:27:202 - best lap - thus setting a GTS qualifying record (remember, it's inaugural), and a heftier 3 seconds (almost) behind the overall pole setting no.58 Porsche DP (at 1:24:313) of David Donohue, just like Phoenix two weeks ago. the Mustang starting overall fifth.