Grand-Am Stars Reese and Collins Play Roles on SPEED'S SETUP SETUP - 10 Drivers, winner take all in $100,000 duel in Pontiac Solstice Racers DETROIT, April 17, 2007 -- Intense. It's a word that won't be taken lightly in the new SPEED reality...
Grand-Am Stars Reese and Collins Play Roles on SPEED'S SETUP
SETUP - 10 Drivers, winner take all in $100,000 duel in Pontiac Solstice Racers
DETROIT, April 17, 2007 -- Intense. It's a word that won't be taken lightly in the new SPEED reality series, Setup. Beginning April 18 at 8 p.m. EST, 10 drivers will slip behind the wheel of identically prepared Pontiac Solstice GXP race cars for a chance at $100,000; but maybe more importantly, a real-life opportunity to compete for a factory ride in the 2008 Grand-Am Series Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. SETUP Airs Wednesday, April 18th at 8:00 p.m. ET on SPEED.
Hosted by four-time Trans-Am Series champion, Tommy Kendall, along with actress Ashley Van Dyke and Pontiac GXP.R Grand-Am drivers Kelly Collins and Leighton Reese, Setup challenges a select group of aspiring drivers in a series of hardcore races at Southern California's versatile Willow Springs Raceway. Drivers had to qualify, earn sponsorships and battle it out on each one of the track's intricate purpose-built road courses.
"Kendall's opening line, Racing is the only sport that talent guarantees you nothing, is very true," Collins said. "Even the drivers that didn't win got a lot of air time and exposure. My roll was Kelly Collins, factory driver to evaluate, quiz and talk about the GXP.R that the winner will have a chance to test. It's a great idea. The drivers did a good job behind the wheel and there was real close competition. There is a lot of drama that unfolds and it is an interesting series to follow. It would have been great to be a part of the program 15-years ago when I was coming up through the ranks. $100,000 bucks and a test in a factory drive would have fed my need."
Leighton Reese, a one time SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card holder also enjoyed his SETUP stint.
"We presented the winner with the $100, 000," Reese said. "I played the race team owner. Kelly and I were in on the evaluations, but the eventual winner happened on the track when the checker dropped through ability and some luck. It is kind of like American Idol on the track, with the elimination process. I would have rather been driving, but it was neat to be on the other side of the production. It was a great opportunity for these drivers. It would have been great to have that around back in my early days, but it would have had to have been shot in black-and-white."
Each Pontiac Solstice GXP was built by the factory; shipped to long-time championship race shop Pratt & Miller and up fitted with Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) approved performance and safety equipment. Sporting everything from roll cages and exhaust enhancements to improve airflow, these factory rides were transformed into serious racing machines. The Pontiac Solstice GXPs were then delivered to Willow Springs carrying identical specifications -- putting the onus on each individual driver and mechanic to come up with the best combination of upgrades, balance and drivability.
"This show was a massive undertaking," Gillen continued. "The build process was a grind, as each team had to transform their individual cars to fit their own driving tastes. The drivers also had to load and unload their cars, bringing them back and forth to the track before and after every race. Not to mention each driver had to meet with potential sponsors - and if they weren't able to get one - they were sent home. This was a big deal for everyone involved."
The six-part series debuts in its regular time slot of 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, April 18.
"We were looking for an opportunity to showcase the performance credentials of our 260 HP Solstice GXP, and this concept was clearly the right fit for Pontiac" said Steve Sitek, Pontiac Director of Motorsports. "Nothing speaks to the credibility of a performance machine like racing, and to have 10 of our Solstice GXPs out on the track being pushed to the limits will demonstrate to viewers that the Solstice is more than just a sexy two-seat roadster. Additionally, we look at Setup as a way to continue the launch of Pontiac's entire GXP performance series, which will include a G6 GXP and Torrent GXP later this year."
-credit: pontiac motorsports