Nonnamaker Racing Diary: 2003 Daytona International Speedway It has been a little while since we last released a Nonnamaker Racing Diary. Mid Ohio was the last Diary we wrote, but to be honest the last five months have been very busy with all...
Nonnamaker Racing Diary: 2003 Daytona International Speedway
It has been a little while since we last released a Nonnamaker Racing Diary. Mid Ohio was the last Diary we wrote, but to be honest the last five months have been very busy with all the opportunities that have presented themselves.
In addition to work opportunities, I am also happy to say I am now a proud uncle. Ian Kurtis Nonnamaker was born on August 25th to Will and Holly Nonnamaker. Ian made his first race this weekend as he took the trip to Daytona with the family. He was the perfect little racer hardly crying and very much enjoying the sounds of the speedway.
The race weekend was a very interesting weekend for us. We went down there needing a seventh place finish in order to secure the Driver's title. We were battling Terry Borcheller and Forrest Barber for the title. These two were driving a BMW M3 for Bell Motorsports. A little background on our competitors: Bell Motorsports is one of the more respected teams in the paddock. Forrest Barber is an accomplished power boat racer and recently made a very successful transition into sports car racing. Terry Borcheller easily makes the list of the top ten American sportscar drivers.
The same exact team (Bell, with Forrest and Terry driving) won the Daytona Prototype Championship, one of the top levels of sportscar racing. So we had our work cut out for us.
As usual the race weekend was very dramatic. Bell Motorsports brought out their M3 on test days but never ran it during official practice. Word got to us that their motor had blown and they had no way of fixing it. We thought for a second that we might have the Driver Championship wrapped up with their motor misfortune.
Borcheller and Barber are true racers though and were not going to go down without a fight. Forrest secured a ride in the #09 Automatic Racing BMW M3. Terry found a ride in the #30 Ford Mustang.
Joe (my dad) had a very nice start in the #41 Porsche 911. The entire team waited on the balls of our feet the entire first lap hoping that Joe would come back around to the front straight for the first lap. (The starts to the Grand Am Cup races can get somewhat aggresive, especially during the last race of the year).
Joe made it around the first lap and during his stint in the #41 Porsche he made his way up to fourth before turning the car over to me under the first yellow. As the race went back green I did my best to stay out of trouble. As we entered the second horseshoe in the Daytona infield, I noticed the SpeedSource Boxster get pushed into a spin. Sylvain Tremblay, who was driving the car at the time, could do very little but go along for the ride, looping the yellow OllieAir.com sponsored Boxster time after time. I slowed down but didn't stop the car because there were thirty cars bearing down on me from behind and I didn't want to get hit from behind. On Tremblay's last loop the Boxster came to rest right in front of our car. Taking evasive manuvers we missed the Boxster by less than three feet.
After our close call, we needed a seventh place finish and as the yellow came out with a little less than an hour remaining we were in ninth place! Earlier in the race I was pretty confident that we would make our way back into the top five but time was quickly running out and we still had many cars to pass.
With 45 minutes remaining in the race the #09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 had a left rear wheel fall off. I wasn't far behind and saw the entire thing happen. The #53 Mustang slowed for the spinning M3. The #30 Mustang ran into the back of the #53 Mustang. The damage from the wreck took out the #09 M3 (which Barber was to drive later in the race) and the #30 Mustang (which Borcheller was set to drive). Our Driver's Championship was secure now.
After the damage was cleaned up we went back green for a dash to the end. I was in fifth place and moved up to third for the checkered. The real excitement was happening behind me.
Will (my brother) had started the #42 Porsche for our team. He ran a faultless stint and was only slowed when an ST car decided to try and pass Will coming onto the high banks. Out of control, the ST car spun Will around. Recovering from that Will turned the car over to Joe (after Joe took a forty minute break from his starting role in the #41 Porsche).
Joe has gotten massive amounts of track time in the Porsches this season and it paid off at the end of the year as he has come on very strong. He took over controls of the #42 Porsche and drove it into fourth place, passing Stu Hayner and BJ Zacharias at the end of the race. With the 2004 season looking to be very competitive in the SGS class next year, I am very excited about our chances.
After the race on Friday we stayed over for the Awards Banquet on Saturday. Grand Am was kind enough to provide free food and drinks and we collected our Team and Driver Championships. The entire group of Grand Am Cup teams and officials have made this season very enjoyable and we can't wait to get back to it next season.
Speaking of next season, we will begin our season at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Running Porsches in both the Rolex Series and the Grand Am Cup we have a lot of development work this off season but are very excited about 2004. We will take to the track for next season at the end of January as a part of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
-by Wayne Nonnamaker