Joe Jennings, Grand-Am Correspondent
Watkins Glen, N. Y. – Last night Motorsport.com reported in the race report that Team Sahlen announced that they were moving up to Daytona Prototypes for the 2013 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season. They will have a pair of BMW Riley entries. The No. 42 DP will be driven by Dane Cameron and Wayne Nonnamaker and the No. 43 machine will be chauffeured by Joe Sahlen along with Joe and Will Nonnamaker. The latter three drivers will be entered as Sportsman Drivers for the Rolex Daytona Prototype Jim Trueman Awards.
The announcement was made by the combined Sahlen and Nonnamaker contingent at Watkins Glen International, the same setting they used to announce their entry into the GT class a few years back.
I regarded DP has the epitome of professional racing.
“Our big announcement is that we are moving up to DP and we will start testing as soon as this season is over,” said Will Nonnamaker. “We still have a chance at the championship in with Mazda but as soon as the season ends, we will begin our testing program for the new cars.” The tests are scheduled to commence around the first of October.
The No. 42 BMW will be the lead car and the No. 43 will be for the so-called true Gentleman entry in the series.
“I am looking forward to representing the Sahlen’s brand next year,” Cameron said. “We are looking forward to moving up to the top level in sports-car racing.” He went on to say he has been following the DP series since its inception and dreaming of one day being able to compete at that level. “I regarded DP has the epitome of professional racing.”
Cameron has had periodic rides in DP cars with his last start being for Starworks Motorsport in 2010. “My race with Starworks was in New Jersey, and my first start was in 2007 with Ganassi and Michael Valiante,” he said. “I have had a few starts, some testing and bits and pieces everywhere. I have always felt comfortable in a prototype with the open-wheel experience I have had, although this will be nice to have a full season with the team, and to learn and progress with the team.”
Stated co-driver Wayne Nonnamaker, “I have never driven anything with significant down-force before, so Dane will be helping me with that. He will give us a good bench-mark and provide good coaching for me. As I have moved up through the ranks, I seem to get more comfortable with the cars I race. I think my comfort level will be quite good as time progresses.”
The cars will be developed and maintained in the Nonnamaker shops in Canton, Ohio. “We built an office and a 15,000 sq. ft. shop a few years back. It has a chassis and dyno and everything that we need to maintain the cars,” Will Nonnamaker said. “The cars will be maintained the same way the Mazda’s have been; it just means more details will be involved.”
Katie Crawford will serve as the team engineer. “I want to thank the team for allowing me to work on the GT cars, and I am looking forward to doing the same with the DPs,” she said. “I do everything from the Carolinas, but will be available to go to Ohio whenever I am needed. The team suggested I get an apartment in Ohio, but I will commute as long as I can.”
Joe Sahlen added, “We are a regional market but we would like to branch out. At this time, we are looking into the Charlotte market.” He went on to say his Buffalo-based company is primarily regional in nature but they are finding their brand has become well known throughout the country.
Regarding the choice of BMW power, Will Nonnamaker said, “I looked at all the manufacturers, and I was looking for two things: a motor that was going to be reliable and I wanted a motor that was going to be competitive. BMW gave us both those things, and we get to do business with Steve Dinan. Steve is a very good representative, and he was the turning point in making the decision.”
While development goes on in the background, the Nonnamaker team will continued to concentrate on its GT entries but not losing sight of the land of opportunity that lies ahead for them.
And having two additional Daytona Prototype entries thrills the Rolex Series management as the series continues to grow and prosper.