DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 17, 2003) -- The 2003 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season is in full swing and teams are heading into their busiest stretch of the season with three races in 12 days beginning with this weekend's Sahlen's Six ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 17, 2003) -- The 2003 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season is in full swing and teams are heading into their busiest stretch of the season with three races in 12 days beginning with this weekend's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
After running for six hours on Watkins Glen International's historic long course this Sunday, June 22, the Rolex Series will travel to Ohio for the Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic only six days later on Saturday, June 28. There will not be any time for resting following the 250-mile race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as Rolex Series teams will then travel south to Daytona International Speedway to be part of NASCAR Winston Cup's Pepsi 400 weekend with the Paul Revere 250 on Thursday, July 3.
With such a hectic schedule on the horizon, team managers and crew chiefs know they will have to be ready for anything.
"The biggest thing is making sure that everything is lined up for the next event, so when you get there you aren't short changed with something that you need two weeks to get. You have to prepare and setup for parts for everything. You have to pre-order the parts and lay everything out," explained Ferrari of Washington Team Manager Glenn Marquis.
"The other challenging thing is to keep the guys motivated. To add to our busy Rolex Series schedule, we raced in Montreal with Ferrari Challenge last weekend, and the weekend after Daytona we are going to Lime Rock for another Ferrari Challenge race. We have something like six races in a row," added Marquis, whose Ferrari of Washington team currently leads the Rolex Series GT team owner standings, while its drivers Cort Wagner and Brent Martini top the driver points.
"We have had to put two more guys on salary for the month of June, because we have so much to do," said Heritage Motorsports team owner and driver Dave Machavern, whose #48 Mustang leads the GTS team owner point standings. "You have to make sure you have all your spares and have everything fresh and ready to go. But really it comes down to having good luck, because if that doesn't happen you're going to miss one or two of (the upcoming races)."
Brumos Racing's #59 Porsche car chief Jim Bailie says their points-leading Daytona Prototype team is preparing for the upcoming run of races just like his GT counterparts. "At this point in time the best thing we can do is make sure we have every spare part that we own actually prepared for use, because there's no time between events because of the traveling and the rest of the logistics to do any of that. Sometimes that drives expenses up a little bit, but with three races in this period there is not much you can do about it," notes Bailie.
The three-race run also means that most teams will not return home to their garages between events.
"When we get to Watkins Glen for the six-hour race, we are basically going to go from there to Mid-Ohio and camp out at Mid-Ohio for the week. We'll prep the car for Mid-Ohio at Mid-Ohio and then after the Mid-Ohio race we'll prep the car for Daytona and then drive down to Daytona," Ferrari of Washington's Marquis added.
Although both Heritage Motorsports and Brumos Racing have garages in Jacksonville, Fla., both teams hope to avoid spending much time there on the way to Daytona for the Paul Revere 250.
"We are planning, if time allows, to stop in and get a few things that we'll need in Daytona that we hadn't until that point. Hopefully we won't need the shop. If we need the shop, we're in trouble. The secret to this is getting through three races unhurt," admits Bailie.
"We'll stop at our garage overnight going to Daytona from Mid-Ohio," said Heritage Motorsports driver Tommy Riggins. "But if something happens at Mid-Ohio big time, then we'll be on the road back to the shop immediately," quickly added Machavern.
While all teams agree the key to enduring the grueling schedule before them is to come through each race unscathed, the door-banging excitement that the Daytona Prototypes class has seen at recent events might prove to be counter-productive to that goal. However, that does not necessarily mean that race fans will not see the same thrilling wheel-to-wheel action at the next three races.
When asked if there would be any team orders to keep the cars clean, Bailie responded, "One race at a time. We are in this for a championship, and points matter at every event. We'll take it one race at a time."
Rolex Sports Car Series racing kicks off this week at Watkins Glen International with the Sahlen's Sports Car Grand Prix. Race fans will be able to mingle with race teams and drivers before the race at the Prix-View Party on Wednesday, June 18, in downtown Elmira and the Three-Hours of Go-Karting at KG Slick Track in Horseheads on Thursday, June 19. The on-track action will get underway at The Glen on Friday, June 20 and conclude on Sunday, June 22 with the historic Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Tickets are available by calling The Glen's ticket office at 607-535-2481 or online at www.theglen.com.
The Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic event weekend will get underway on Friday, June 27, with Fan Appreciation Day at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Rolex Series will run in the 250-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Grand Prix on Saturday, June 28, and the Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport division will be featured on Sunday, June 29. Tickets are available by calling 800-MID-OHIO or by online at www.midohio.com.
The Rolex Series will team up with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series during the Fourth of July weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The Paul Revere 250 will be run on Thursday, July 3, immediately following Winston Cup qualifying for the Pepsi 400. Tickets are available by calling 386-254-RACE or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
All three of the Rolex Series races will be broadcast on SPEED Channel. Broadcast dates and times, as well as additional information and Zippo Live Timing & Scoring for all of the upcoming Rolex Series events are available online at www.grandamerican.com.