Six Hours at Watkins Glen race report

By Russell Jaslow - Some believe that the human body is better suited for long endurance events when it is older. There are various theories to this with many examples of older athletes peaking in marathon events. Maybe it has...

By Russell Jaslow -

Some believe that the human body is better suited for long endurance events when it is older. There are various theories to this with many examples of older athletes peaking in marathon events.

Maybe it has to do with younger athletes concentrating on the sprint type of sporting events. Or maybe, it has to with the old saying that age and treachery will beat youth and exuberance any day.

Whatever the reason, it appears to hold true for race cars as well. At least it did for the Six Hours at the Glen event, round 4 of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

An ancient chassis, in racing terms, showed off much newer cars as the Lista Doran Racing Judd Ferrari, driven by Didier Theys, Mauro Baldi, and Freddy Lienhard, survived the distance to take first overall, the fourth different victor in as many races this season.

The winning car was built in November of 1993. But that didn't seem to bother the team as they decided to park the newly designed Crawford chassis to allow it more time to develop, and return to the tried and true.

That's not to say it was easy, because it was anything but. As the race developed, four cars were quite capable of taking the checkered flag, and all showed signs they would do just that. Up to the waning moments of the race, three teams were still fighting tooth and nail on the lead lap.

It all started out when the Grand Marshall, Phil Hill, gave the famous command. With qualifying done in horrid rainy conditions, the grid was quite lopsided and the crowd, estimated at over 20,000, saw numerous passing action in the first few laps.

The polesitter, the #20 Dyson Racing entry with Andy Wallace at the wheel, grabbed the early lead from Doran Lista.

However, further back in the pack, all eyes were on the #37 Banana Joe's sponsored Intersport Racing Judd Lola driven by Jon Field and Oliver Gavin which started 19th. Clearly the fastest car in the Friday evening practice, they wasted no time grabbing the lead -- just 17 minutes.

Wallace wouldn't give it up easily, but he was eventually balked by a slower car right at the apex of Turn 1, and lost the drag race up into the esses.

Meanwhile, even further back in the field, the #16 Dyson car, driven by James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, forced to start dead last after stalling on the grid, was making a move trying to prove that in endurance racing, the starting position is meaningless.

James Weaver moved the car up into second place and eventually took over first when Jon Field pitted, but gave it back to the Banana Joe's team when they had to take on fuel.

At this stage of the race, it was apparent that the two fastest cars were the #16 Dyson car and the Banana Joe's entry. However, the Doran Lista car was staying within striking range hovering in third or fourth place, along with the #20 Dyson car.

There were a number of incidents, mostly due to the different classes running disparate speeds. The worse crash of the day came in the second hour when Brent Sherman in an SRP #6 Miracle Motorsports Ford Riley & Scott collided with a GT #15 Crazy Redhead Racing Porsche GT3 RS driven by the only female in the race, Kim Hiskey.

The collision occurred in the esses and completely destroyed both cars. Sherman got out of his car under his own power, but rescue workers needed time getting Hiskey out. Both were transported to the hospital, but were released without any injuries.

Despite numerous full course yellows in the middle portion of the race, it was developing into a three car affair -- #16 Dyson, Intersport, and Doran -- as the #20 Dyson was taken out with a broken water pump.

The team pulled it behind the wall to fix it as Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Andy Wallace could only look on in disappointment.

"All the water fell out of the engine," explained EFR.

Late in the fourth hour, the contenders were reduced by one as arguably the fastest car was taken out through no fault of their own. As the Banana Joe's car went to pass the leading American GT car in the esses, the Team X1-R Corvette never saw the smaller prototype and moved over on him.

They touched, sending the Judd Lola into the guardrail, giving the #37 car a flat tire and bodywork damage on both sides. It would be the end of a fine run, as the team was unable to repair the damage.

"We were going up through the esses, and I gave him the line on the outside," said a despondent Jon Field. "He came over there, so I went up on the outside, and he came over and hit me."

Now, it was a two car race -- the speed of Dyson versus the age of Doran. Age won out.

On their last pit stop, Butch Leitzinger gave way to James Weaver, while the Ferrari took the lead. Weaver took off with the intent of reeling in the Ferrari. However, it soon became apparent something was wrong as their lap times dropped of dramatically. A dropped cylinder was the culprit, and Weaver nursed it home into second place.

All Didier Theys had to do now was bring it home. A quick splash and go completed the mission, and the old workhorse produced yet another victory for Ferrari.

Weaver brought the Dyson car home second, a lap down. Despite the runnerup finish, Leitzinger enjoyed the race.

"It was an excellent race," he said, "especially the middle part of it, between Didier, Freddy, and Mauro, and also the Oliver Gavin and Joe Field car. We had some really good racing, and we almost worked together. We passed each other quite a few times in traffic, and it was a fun race."

Robinson Racing took the last podium spot with their Judd Riley & Scott. Jack Baldwin, George Robinson, and Johnny O'Connell finished 11 laps behind the leader, fifth overall.

Sandwiched in between were SRP II cars. Winning that class was the Team Spencer Motorsports Mazda Kudzu driven by Rich Grupp, Barry Wakkell, and Ryan Hampton. It was the first SRP II victory for a Mazda powered car, but not without some problems.

"We didn't have any problems until the last four laps, when we had a low oil-pressure reading" Grupp said. "We had to duck in for a splash of gas and splash of oil. Other than that, it was flawless; the crew did a great job."

Finishing second, fourth overall, on the same lap was the Archangel Motorsports Services Nissan Lola driven by Andy Lally, Paul Macey, and Larry Oberto.

Rounding out the SRP II podium was Bruno St. Jacques, Robert Julien, and Greg Pootmans in a Porschehaus Racing Nissan Lola, finishing 21st overall.

The GTS class was won by a Saleen S7R entered by Fordahl Motorsports despite a first lap stop and go penalty for passing before the start. Chris Bingham and Ron Johnson did the honors.

Finishing second in class was the never say die winners, the Schumacher Racing Porsche GT1. The crew stayed up to two in the morning repairing extensive damage to the rear bodywork, in which a spare did not exist, after Larry Schumacher crashed in the wet qualifying on Friday. Other than needing some paint, the piece did it's job. Martin Snow was the other driver.

The top GT car and the winning AGT car both finished in the top ten. GT honors went to G&W Motorsports Porsche GT3R driven by Darren Law, Matt Drendel, and David Murray, good for 8th overall.

The team experienced quite a scare as they were involved in a collision with a BMW with just three laps to go. Luckily, they were able to continue to take the checkered flag.

A BMW took second sandwiched between another Porsche.

Despite the coming together with the contending SRP car, Craig Conway and Doug Goad took the AGT win in their Corvette and 9th overall.

There is little time for the teams to rebuild and prepare for the next race which is just one week away at Lime Rock Park. But, for the Doran Lista team, that probably won't matter. After all, they have the oldest car in the series -- and loving every moment of it.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Chris Bingham , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Didier Theys , Johnny O'Connell , Mauro Baldi , Phil Hill , Jon Field , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Doug Goad , Andy Lally , Craig Conway , Jack Baldwin , Oliver Gavin , Kim Hiskey , Darren Law , George Robinson , Brent Sherman , Joe Field , Ryan Hampton , Robert Julien , Martin Snow , Larry Oberto , David Murray , Greg Pootmans , Paul Mace , Rich Grupp , Ron Johnson
Teams Dyson Racing , Doran Racing