Daytona24: Seth Thomas preview

Seth Thomas Ready For Rolex 24 Debut Georgia's Seth Thomas will add more experience to a growing pro resume by racing in his first Rolex Series race this weekend at Daytona. 1/27/10 - Cumming, GA - After making a name for himself as one of the...

Seth Thomas Ready For Rolex 24 Debut
Georgia's Seth Thomas will add more experience to a growing pro resume by racing in his first Rolex Series race this weekend at Daytona.

1/27/10 - Cumming, GA - After making a name for himself as one of the most promising young touring car drivers in North America, Cumming, Ga.-native Seth Thomas is ready to tackle his next challenge: The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Thomas was recently announced as the lead driver of the #81 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire sports Car Challenge series, but in addition to his BMW driving duties in the Fresh From Florida 200 on Friday, he'll buckle into the #14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup car on Saturday for the twice-around-the-clock endurance race.

For Thomas, the offer to join a quality team like Autometrics in a proven car like the Porsche required very little time to consider. Like many things in life, being in the right place at the right time proved helpful.

"Autometrics had a driver drop out at the last minute during the Daytona test days earlier this month, and they asked me if I would like to take a couple of laps in the car to feel it out and offer my feedback. Immediately I felt at home; it was very comfortable and easy to drive, much like the BimmerWorld World Challenge Car I have driven for the last 6 years. I had about 6 laps in the car, and the lap times came immediately. Shortly after that, they asked me to come on board as one of their Rolex 24 drivers."

With the proximity of Daytona to Georgia and the popularity of stock car racing in the south, Thomas says he'd dreamt of competing in one of the track's big races.

"As a kid growing up in the heart of NASCAR country I was always a race fan, but the one that stuck out in my mind was the 24 Hours of Daytona. I always thought it would be a highlight of a racing driver's career to compete there against best guys in the world, and I still have that same feeling today."

If achieving one of his childhood dreams wasn't big enough, Thomas also looks to his first Rolex Series start as the next logical step in his professional driving career. Coming off a 2009 season that saw him win three World Challenge Touring Car races, the move to GRAND-AM's CTSCC series for 2010 and gaining Rolex GT experience is just what he hoped for.

"I'm very goal oriented. Racing in Touring Car before this was a big goal, as was winning in Touring Car. Both of those are checked off the list. Moving to GRAND-AM with BimmerWorld allowed me to check another one off the list. Next, I'm going after the goal of putting the Autometrics Porsche on the podium in my first 24Hour race."

While Thomas will be making his first appearance in a major international endurance race, he's spent the past decade preparing for this weekend by running in professional sprint races. There will be a lot of lessons to learn, but he hopes much of his sprint racing experience will apply.

"The Rolex 24 will be a completely different animal, and I know that going into the race. What I have most learned in Touring Car racing is that I don't have to be the fastest to win. I only have to finish the race to win. I'm a believer in the saying that you only have to drive fast enough to win, and it applies to endurance racing more than anything else. Here, we are all a part of a team, and our goal is to beat the other guys as a unit, not as a bunch of individuals. That's the part I'm looking forward to the most."

Adapting to race conditions with the faster Daytona Prototypes will take some getting used to, says Thomas, but he's familiar with the challenges of racing in a slower category of cars.

"Driving a Rolex GT car and driving a CTSCC ST car is surprisingly very similar. We are both the slower cars in the field so our battle with faster traffic will be alike. Since I raced in the CTSCC series back in 2007, I know what to expect for battling traffic and driving for long stints. Driving the car on the track is the easy part. What is tough to prepare for is 24 hours of racing with faster cars around you, so keeping our Porsche clean is the top priority."

If all goes according to Thomas' plan this weekend, he hopes to get the call to do more Rolex GT races.

"I don't want to think too far ahead, or to get ahead of myself. Obviously, my desire is to earn a full-time drive in Rolex GT, but I know those opportunities come from results, and that is what I'm focused on. I want to show that I can make the move from a Touring Car to a Rolex GT car with no problems. As my dad tells me, 'Keep it simple, stupid!', and that's just what I plan to do this weekend. If I can come away from the weekend knowing that I delivered fast laps and helped my team throughout the race, I'll be very pleased."


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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Seth Thomas