Daytona Mechanical woes knock Schroeder out early

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 - About all anyone can say about TRV Motorsport's experience at the 39th annual Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is "that's racing." The Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott Mk...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 - About all anyone can say about TRV Motorsport's experience at the 39th annual Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is "that's racing."

The Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott Mk III Chevy #95 blew its engine early in the event Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Engines are one of the few things that the Grand American Road Racing Association rulebook forbids a team to change once the green flag has dropped, so the Toledo, Ohio-based team was out with only three laps in the books for a 79th-place finish overall.

Lead driver Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J., had qualified the car ninth overall, the team's best qualifying run ever for this event, and everything seemed in order prior to the race. At the start Schroeder dodged a huge bullet when a car spun in front of him in turn one and another car hit his exhaust pipe, but somehow he squeezed through and escaped disaster. A few minutes later he radioed in that the car had lost power, however, and when he returned to the pits the team discovered that there was Red Line oil all over the engine compartment.

At first the team thought it was just an oil leak, but upon further investigation they learned that a piston had failed. Co-drivers John Mirro of Bath, Pa.; Barry Waddell of Evansville, Ind.; and team owner/driver Tom Volk of Blissfield, Mich., did not even get to do one lap on Saturday.

"It's a mechanical part and it failed; it happens sometimes," said Volk. "It's not right, but it does happen. Todd [Hertel, the team's engine builder] spent more time on this engine than any other because he knew the potential our team had here. It was a brand-new piston. Ninty-five out of 100 times there is probably no problem, but it's a racing part and sometimes they break. There was probably something wrong with that piston's metallurgy. It's the cruelest possible outcome of this race for us; the money is already spent through testing and the expense of being here. We have a 100 percent finishing record over the past three years, and with this team and this driver line-up we felt we had a legitimate shot at the podium here."

"It's a real shame," Schroeder concurred. "The car just lost power. Todd gives us great engines all the time but sometimes engines let go. It's nobody's fault. It's all part of the game. Sometimes cars sit on the pole and then they're the first ones out. You just never know what's going to happen but you have to take the bad with the good."

The Indy Racing star described the start this way: "There was a spin up ahead of Duncan [Dayton, who started in front of him] and we all had to take evasive action. [The car that spun was the Bob Akin Motorsports Riley & Scott Ford of Michael Lauer, Brian DeVries, Norman Simon and Mark Simo.] I had to get in the grass to make it through. There was a car that squeezed between me and the guardrail; I still don't know how he fit in there. I got hit. I thought it was in the side, but when I climbed out and looked at the car there is red paint on the exhaust, so I got hit in the rear. It was pretty hairy."

Waddell was also philosophical about the early retirement. "This happens sometimes," he said "I guess it'll just be one hour for our Racing for Kids promotion."

One of the team's sponsors, Racer Parts Wholesale, conducted a promotion for that not-for-profit foundation in which fans pledged donations based on how many hours the car ran in the race.

"I'm disappointed of course; not for me so much because I understand that racing is like this, but I feel badly for everyone back home who was pulling for us," said Mirro. "And I feel bad for the whole team, which is really first-rate. The engine builder has a flawless record. It's a shame for everyone but there is nothing you can do about it but get it fixed and start getting ready for the next race."

That event, the Nextel 250, will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., on March 3. It will be carried live on Speedvision beginning at 2 p.m.

-Linda Mansfield

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Brian DeVries , Jeret Schroeder , John Mirro , Bob Akin , Barry Waddell