Shane Lewis To Go After 2004 Daytona Prototype Championship In PAP-PARTS BMW FABCAR POWELL, Ohio, December 2, 2003 - Southard Motorsports' owner Steve Southard announced today that sports car and endurance racing standout Shane Lewis will be the...
Shane Lewis To Go After 2004 Daytona Prototype Championship In PAP-PARTS BMW FABCAR
POWELL, Ohio, December 2, 2003 - Southard Motorsports' owner Steve Southard announced today that sports car and endurance racing standout Shane Lewis will be the lead driver of his No. 7 PAP-PARTS BMW-FABCAR in 2004. Lewis, of Jupiter, Florida, will contest for top honors in the Daytona Prototype (DP) class for the full 12 race Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series schedule with the Powell, Ohio-based team. The exciting announcement came as Southard prepares to contest for the championship in the fastest growing class in professional sports car racing. Lewis' expertise with both racecraft and car development will be leaned on heavily as the combination challenges the established teams in the second full season of DP competition. Lewis will pilot a FABCAR FDS/03 chassis with the headlights and taillights from the BMW Z-8 sports car. The car will be powered by BMW's powerful and highly reliable 4.9 litre V8 and ride on Goodyear racing slicks. This marks a return to driving BMWs for Lewis who helped develop the last generation M3 for competition and spent 2003 developing the BMW-built MINI Cooper S for Grand-Am Cup racing. The chase for the championship starts on January 29th with the Rolex 24 at Daytona (Fla.).
"This is one of the best efforts I have been associated with," Lewis enthusiastically declared about the Southard operation. "At the start of the season every driver says how excited they are to be with a team that can win the championship. I can honestly say that I am a true believer in this program and I'm very excited about my relationship with Southard Motorsports, Auto Assets, BMW and PAP-PARTS. This team is shaping-up to be one of the top teams in Daytona Prototypes. We know that it will be a bit of a development effort with the BMW and the FABCAR combination. But, I feel like the pieces are there to give us a real shot at race wins and the DP title. I'm so pumped about getting out there and driving this car for overall wins. So much of winning and success comes from enjoying where you're at and Steve and his crew chief, Rich Howe, have put together a great team. I've been racing against them for years in historics [racing] and I know how strong they are. FABCAR is a proven winner and I'm really looking forward to getting to work with BMW again. We're going to come out swinging at Daytona and I think we can take the PAP-PARTS BMW FABCAR to the front of the pack."
"After a few years of winning in touring classes, I can't wait to get going and run for overall victories again," continued Lewis when asked about returning to the top-class of the Rolex Series. "The competition in the production-classes is incredible but anytime you have the chance to be the first one to cross the finish line; that is really why we all race. This is a top of the line effort, in the top level of the Rolex Series. I made the decision that I wanted to be teamed with winners in 2004 and I think that is exactly what I have here. Steve has made a serious commitment to me. I'm looking forward to a very successful relationship."
2004 marks the first full season in the Rolex Series for both Southard Motorsports and Lewis. Lewis comes to the team as one of the most respected race drivers in the country enjoying an extensive background in endurance and sports car racing including seventeen 24 Hour races. In 2003 Rolex Series competition, Lewis earned a second in GTS class with Gunnar Racing at the Paul Revere 250. He also drove in seven Grand-Am Cup events racing a BMW Mini Cooper S setting a new track record and fastest race lap at Virginia International Raceway as well as giving the Mini its first top-10 finish in North American competition early in the season. The No. 7 BMW FABCAR debuted at the Rolex Series' finale at Daytona in early November. The car qualified fourth and finished ninth in-class.
"I am excited about 2004 and the potential of the car," quoted Southard. "The finale at Daytona proved to me that I put the correct engine & chassis combination together. The fact that we qualified fourth in class the first time out with a car that had literally zero development time on it speaks volumes to me. All this car needs is some set up time. I am confident that Shane will bring that expertise to the team. I have been a fan of Shane's work ethic ever since we worked with him on a vintage Winston Cup effort several years ago."
Shane Lewis is one of the world's leading race and development drivers. His skills have been utilized by Riley & Scott Europe, Pilbeam Racing America, Mosler Automotive, Saleen, BMW, MCR, MINI and more to develop new race cars. He has been racing since 1989 with multiple race wins in Grand-Am sanctioned events, in the IMSA Supercar and SCCA Pro Series and the Historic SportsCar Series. He has starts in ARCA stock car competition, at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and is a former Daytona Endurance Champion and Formula Ford Festival winner. He has driven in seventeen 24-hour races including six Rolex 24s and three 24 Hours of Le Mans- leading the race in GT class in 2003. He has two overall and one class-victory at the 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges. Lewis was honored as the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner and was test driver for author Don Alexander's book Performance Handling for the 90's. Lewis also serves as a test driver and private coach.
For more on Shane Lewis please see www.ShaneLewis.com. To learn more about Southard Motorsports, please visit www.pap-parts.com or www.autoassets.com.