Daytona 24: Specter Werkes final report

Specter Werkes Team finds Victory in Completion of the 24 Hours 24 Cauley Corvette GTR presented by Highlander Finishes 14th in GT Detroit -- February 3, 2004: It would take a lot more than nearly 20 hours of rain to stop a determined Specter ...

Specter Werkes Team finds Victory in Completion of the 24 Hours 24 Cauley Corvette GTR presented by Highlander Finishes 14th in GT

Detroit -- February 3, 2004: It would take a lot more than nearly 20 hours of rain to stop a determined Specter Werkes team from finishing the Rolex 24 at Daytona. With their #24 Cauley Corvette GTR presented by Highlander, the team overcame weather, mechanical problems and general fatigue in their quest to finish this great American endurance-racing classic.

Logging 407 laps (nearly 1400 miles), the #24 Cauley Corvette GTR crossed the checkered stripe 17th in class. For the team, this was a victory in many ways. They had successfully overcome a month-long battle with adversity and finished the 24 Hours of Daytona. Anyone in sports car racing will tell you, just finishing this race takes monumental effort and commitment. Finishing the "24" is a victory in itself.

"This is a proud moment," beamed crew chief, Danny Kellermeyer. "This is a great group of guys. You know, we had that fire back in the test session at the beginning of the month and these guys didn't even blink. They were committed right from the start. Everyone here signed up to finish. This is great! This is just great!"

Specter Werke's owner and co-driver, Jeff Nowicki echoed his crew chiefs comments.

"It's an amazing feeling. As a driver, I think you realize more than anyone how much the crew and the commitment they make means to this kind of program. I don't care if you're the greatest pilot in racing, you're not going anywhere without a great crew-- especially in endurance racing. You have to have people that will not quit. We had that here. I can't say enough about the team."

Tom Bambard had the honor of driving the first and last stints in the race.

"You have no idea what this feels like," Bambard said in disbelief. "This has been one of my biggest racing dreams-- to run at Daytona-- to run in the 24-- no --to finish the 24 hours-- I can't believe it-- I can't believe I'm here. You climb out of the car after taking the checker and you see the team-- all of those faces... they all know and share the same feeling. At that point, they're not just your teammates, they're family. It's just unbelievable."

Nowicki also acknowledge his co-drivers, John Heinricy and Pete Halsmer.

"Man, what a contribution these guys made," said Nowicki. "Pete and John are the consummate professionals. Their combined experience is priceless. They participated in every decision no matter how big or how small. They would continually bring outside-the-box thinking to the decision making process. They made everyone--. and I mean everyone on that crew feel important. They were so instrumental in our working together as a team. I can't thank them enough."

Jeff and Tom both joined together in thanking this year's sponsors, Cauley Chevrolet, The Highlander, Anchor Bay Productions, Very Berry Exotics, GM Performance Parts and Mobil 1.

"You can't even think about beginning this challenge without the kind of support we got this year," said Nowicki. "When we came off the track at the end of the test with a severely fired damaged car, everyone of our sponsors stepped up to the plate and backed their commitment. To have to call Jeff Cauley and tell him we had burned up his car was one of the toughest calls I've ever had to make. His response was completely positive and nothing but "don't worry about it, let's just get it done." I can't thank him enough."

"We were amazed with the support from the Highlander group," added Tom Bambard. "They jumped on board at the end of the year and it looks like they've fallen in love with sports car racing. They came down here for the event and jumped in with both feet."

"It was amazing to see a first time sponsor do all the right things in conjunction with the program," Bambard continued. "Adrian Paul, the star of the Highlander, came down with Highlander producer, Peter Davis, and their marketing partner, Marcy Jo Anderson. They made personal appearances around Daytona and at the Best Buy across from the speedway. Adrian did radio appearances, charity autograph sessions and trackside appearances. As if that weren't enough, I came down to our pit stall around 2 in the morning on Sunday and there was Adrian hanging out with the crew and cheering everyone on. It was remarkable. You can't ask for better sponsor support than that."

The team is reviewing options for the rest of the 2004 Grand Am Series season and hopes to make an announcement shortly. You can view stories and pictures online at http://www.spectergtr.com and clicking on 'Racing News.'

-sws/jt-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers John Heinricy , Jeff Nowicki , Tom Bambard , Pete Halsmer