Despite Mechanical Problems and Crash, TRV Finishes Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona In Seventh Place in Top Class DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 6 - There isn't an award in the Grand American Road Racing Series for the "Crew of the Race," but if...
Despite Mechanical Problems and Crash, TRV Finishes Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona In Seventh Place in Top Class
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 6 - There isn't an award in the Grand American Road Racing Series for the "Crew of the Race," but if there was it wouldn't be hard to pick TRV Motorsport of Toledo, Ohio as the recipient for the 38th annual Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Although the privateer team qualified an impressive 16th for Saturday and Sunday's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, it was beset by a series of problems during the race. Sticklers to the old racing axiom "it's not over until it's over," the team buckled down and worked to overcome each setback. The crew was rewarded by watching team owner and driver Tom Volk take the checkered flag Sunday in the Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott MKIII Chevy #95.
The car, which carried associate sponsorship from LCF Associates, LACOSTE, infosource.com and Lee's Grinding, finished seventh in the top class, Sports Racer, and 41st out of 80 participants overall.
It was an accomplishment for all, including the team's four drivers for this race: Barry Waddell of Evansville, Ind.; Peter Boss of Narragansett, R.I.; R.J. Valentine of Hingham, Mass., and Volk, who lives in Blissfield, Mich.
Waddell took the green at 1 p.m. Saturday but soon radioed in to say he felt like he had a huge parachute dragging behind him. He persevered but the problem worsened.
Boss was behind the wheel at 2:20 p.m. when the Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott MKIII 5-liter Chevy #95 pitted and the engine cover came off. About a half-hour later the problem was diagnosed and solved, the car was fired back up and it was back on the track.
"It was a bad fuel injector," said Volk, shaking his head in disbelief. "It was brand new, so something must have gotten in there. It's very, very strange. That effectively takes us out of a good finish; you can't lose almost an hour in the pits and do well."
The next problem was when the car ran out of gas; Boss was driving at the time.
Then things got even worse.
Volk was behind the wheel on lap 136 when his car and the Reiser Callas Rennsport Porsche GT3R #01 of Joel Riser, Craig Stanton, Chris Pennington, Grady Willingham and Simon Sobrero made contact in turn five, at the end of the infield straightaway. The Porsche had just spun and was stopped on the track. Two seconds later, Volk spun in exactly the same spot and hit the stationary Porsche hard, bruising his left leg.
That caused a full-course yellow and Volk to throw his hands up in disbelief as he rode back into the garage area in a wrecker, the car dragging behind.
The faces of the TRV Motorsport pit crew were long as they surveyed the damage, but they hustled into action and went to work. As the Dremel-type rotary cutting device was pressed into service, the car definitely didn't look like it had a few hours earlier when it was on the grid, spotless and ready for action.
The crew's expressions were grave as the repairs were made to the right side of the car. The following items needed to be replaced: the upper A arm, the lower A arm, the steering rod, a push rod, an upright, a rim, the splitter, a brake line, the sidepod and the side floor, and there was also extensive body damage on the front clip. The work took five hours to fix, and the team slipped to 73rd in the overall standings.
But eventually the car was repaired and back on the track. Just doing that was quite an accomplishment, but the team wasn't home free yet. As Volk was leaving pit lane a little later, the clutch slave line blew.
Volk started to wonder if someone was picking on him when he ran over some debris in the middle of the night.
"I was in the trioval and I was pulling out to pass a Porsche 911, which is something you do a hundred times in this race," Volk related. "It was dark and there was something very substantial on the track that I ran over. It damaged the left-front bodywork, splitter, brake duct and it smashed a headlight. There was no chance to see the debris, let alone avoid it."
Before the race was over, the crew estimated they had used four rolls of duct tape on the bodywork alone.
The next time Volk was behind the wheel the car started popping out of second and third gears, and the crew had to replace the dog rings in the transmission next.
Boss was behind the wheel when the clutch went out, which caused another lengthy delay. Then, for good measure, the left-rear half-shaft broke when Valentine was doing his last stint.
Only 29 of the 80 starters were running at the checkered, but thanks to the crew, the #95 was among them.
The drivers all had different perspectives of the event, but they were unanimous in their praise for the TRV Motorsport crew.
Waddell has finished on the podium in the top class twice in this event.
"This was my fifth Rolex 24, but it was the first Rolex I've had like this," he said. "It was one of those races that the 24 hours is all about; it means finding out how much the car can take and still endure.
"This crew did such a great job that I was really glad we were there for the finish. And if you look at the stats from timing and scoring, I think you'll find that we ran our fastest lap after the crash. That's a real testament to this crew.
"The problems we had to overcome limited our ability to work on the set-up as you would like to, but John Greene [the engineer] changed the car methodically throughout the race. I think we have a good baseline that will really benefit us in July.
"Aerodynamics is a black art. Maybe the problems we had with our bodywork damage and our aerodynamics weren't as super-critical as we thought they'd be. This crew did a great job not to panic and to fix the car right. The car was predictable throughout the race, so actually it was fun."
Boss was making his first appearance in the twice-around-the-clock classic and also his first appearance at Daytona.
"I enjoyed the whole experience; everyone was great," he said. "This team has a real positive attitude and they wanted to finish this race. Finishing seventh in class is a real accomplishment when you consider everything that happened to us.
"I'm used to 45-minute Barber Dodge Pro races, so this overall experience was a whole different mentality. I did three stints; one was three hours long, one was two and a half hours long, and one was about one hour.
"The traffic wasn't too bad. I stuck my nose in on a couple guys, but it was nothing too bad."
Trans-Am and Rolex 24 veteran Valentine was also very happy after the race.
"This crew is wonderful," he said. "People make the difference in life. When you've been around racing as long as I have, you get a good feeling for people, and this crew has a lot of heart.
"The car was running as well at the end as it was at the beginning of the race, which is a real testament to this crew."
Volk, who had what in horse racing is called a rough trip, concurred.
"Of the four Rolex 24s I've run, this one was the most stressful," he said. "It was the most difficult race I've ever done from both a driver and a team owner's standpoint.
"Our team goes four years and doesn't bang up a car, but in this race there were more crashes, more dangerous passes and more debris on the track than I've ever seen before. Some of the crashes were due to the cold weather and people not getting their tires warm enough. Nobody remembers a Rolex 24 colder than this one, and it affected everybody's performance.
"I can't believe this crew though. We have the best crew out there. I'll put my people up against any other crew here. They have heart."