Stevenson Team Suffers Broken Heart And A Broken Part at Laguna Seca No. 57 Pontiac GXP.R soldiers on to 6th place despite passing of family patriarch While practicing for the Laguna Seca round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series ...
Stevenson Team Suffers Broken Heart And A Broken Part at Laguna Seca No. 57 Pontiac GXP.R soldiers on to 6th place despite passing of family patriarch
While practicing for the Laguna Seca round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16, the Stevenson Motorsports Team received some very sad news. Leonard O'Rion "L.O." Stevenson, the father of team owner John Stevenson, passed away that weekend. In his honor and his memory, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports / BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R carried on the fight for the championship. It would have been his wish for them to do so. Had it not been for a bout with misfortune they likely would have finished on the podium.
Team Manager Mike Johnson: "I think more than anything right now, our hearts go out to not only John, Susan, Booth and Shelley, but the entire Stevenson Auto organization. While I never met L.O., I understand he was a great man that served his country in WWII as a B-29 pilot and loved the car business more than anything. They tell me he was still conducting business via phone until a few days before he died and I think his dedication to doing the job right the first time has been very influential to the way Johnny wants this race team to perform."
Drivers Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell pushed their Pontiac as hard as possible in pursuit of the Porsche and Mazda racers that took an early lead at the start. At one point, the Stevenson car was up to second place only to suffer a part failure that put them in the pits for repairs, ultimately costing them a podium placing.
Johnson: "Unfortunately today, we had a podium car that should have easily finished second, but our front sway bar broke which made the car very difficult to handle."
Liddell: "The Pontiac had been a really good car all weekend until the problem so the fact that we could not capitalize and get a (podium) result is frustrating. We did not have the outright pace of the Mazda, which ultimately won, but were on top of the rest of the Porsche and Pontiac competition in the first hour. However, if our worst result this year turns out to be a sixth then I would say that is not too bad."
Davis: ""It was unfortunate that we had the mechanical failure, but we feel a bit lucky to leave the event with some points. It certainly could have been much worse in terms of the effect on the championship. We will be working extra hard for the remainder of the season to maximize points and get Stevenson Motorsports back on the podium where we belong."
Johnson feels the heart of the team exuded strength despite the sad news that could have turned them away from a run to the front.
"At the end of the day, we had nothing on the 70 car, but I think the hard work that the team and our new engine partners CRD have done have given us the ability to fight for wins every weekend." Johnson continued: "When you have a failure like we had today, there is no reason to blame the rules makers or anyone else since we didn't perform to our maximum ability. With the recent rules changes, the Mazda should have the ability to dominate the Glen like they did last year, but hopefully our race execution will get us back to victory lane very soon."
Liddell too feels the team needs to continue moving forward and seize every opportunity to strengthen their position in the championship chase.
"We need to look forward to the next race and really try to maximize our points at the Glen. We are one-third of the way through the season and are still close to the top of the points but we need a couple of strong finishes to really put pressure on our competition by the midway point."
An interesting, poignant and ironic coincidence regarding L.O. Stevenson and the No. 57 on the Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac is that MR. Stevenson was in the automobile business (Lincoln-Mercury and Honda) for 57 years.
The next race on the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 will be the Sahlen's Six-Hours at Watkins Glen on June 6th.