Fontana: Heritage Motorsports qualifying report

Heritage captures GTS pole (again) & new track record California Speedway, last year, was a practical washout for the Heritage Motorsports team. Tommy Riggins, who set the GTS track record today, only got about 12 laps at the 2002 race. Engine...

Heritage captures GTS pole (again) & new track record

California Speedway, last year, was a practical washout for the Heritage Motorsports team. Tommy Riggins, who set the GTS track record today, only got about 12 laps at the 2002 race. Engine failure. And last year was the first year for professional (or championship) sports cars to visit Southern California in 14 years (since the regretful demise of legendary Riverside course). So, at qualifying start the Heritage team was fundamentally a foreigner to this arena, what with no verified set-ups on record for the car. The team had to look at it as a fresh slate.

Riggins can be fast on "fresh slate", knocking off a whopping 2.938 seconds (say that "3 seconds") from last year's single lap time for GTS cars (new record time 1:34.378 & lap speed 107.567 mph). The fastest time for any GT car to date. For comparison, none of the other classes achieved anything like that against last year's times for this course, not even the Daytona Prototypes against the old Sports Racing Prototype records. And that's not all. Only two of the Daytona Prototypes are faster than the Heritage Mustang GTS! "That's the fastest we've run here," Riggins said in recognition of the team's effort. "We've been working on the car a lot and have been chasing a few things (set up adjustments). We ran here last year, but didn't run that many laps. Essentially, we are rookies (here). We still need to make a few more adjustments."

Heritage Motorsports team strategy for tomorrow afternoon's race is not a done deal. There is a mandatory driver change, but the team has the option to make more than one driver change. The team will be looking for yellow flags, like everyone else, but Tommy Riggins will have to start the race, because he qualified the car. Team owner and solid driver, Dave Machavern of Vermont, must shinny into the Mustang at some time tomorrow. "We changed the transmission to get some different gear ratios," said Machavern (pronounced Mack'-ah-vern). "The team has worked long hours and have gotten the car very balanced. They're doing what they really like doing," speaking about one of the most enthusiastic group of mechanics in the garage area. "They want to be here." And "here" they are!

About the circuit itself, Machavern said, "This place is a combination of street course and flat-out power, the infield section is very, very tight. It's a super facility."

Up until the beginning of qualifying the weather had been very cool, Saturday morning even cooler than the two days prior. Just before qualifying we began to see the first real shadows of the weekend. "We didn' t make any adjustments with the sun popping out, but we will for tomorrow", said Riggins. "We hope it's warmer tomorrow for the morning practice, so it won't be as difficult for the race set-up."

Once again, the Heritage team is poised to take its race to the prototypes.

TEAM MEMBER CAMEO (first in a series):
Featuring Ron Ogletree performs the tasks of chassis engineering and data acquisition for the Heritage team. Ron has a "day job", as an engineer (officially "Senior Process Designer") for Duos Technologies in Jacksonville, Florida. The company makes large-scale recycling equipment, building entire recycling plants. Ron has been involved in racing at all levels, a past regional president of SCCA's Savannah Region. He takes personal time to follow the team across a continent, and to all the races in the year's series, because he loves what he does for the team. Thanks Ron!

Look for another team member profile in the post-race report tomorrow.

-hm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Tommy Riggins