TRG Race Transporter Sustains Heavy Fire Damage; Team Resolved to Make It to Daytona Sonoma, CA and Gila Bend, AZ -- January 25, 2004 - The 53-foot TRG race transporter, en route from Sonoma, CA to Daytona, FL for the running of the 2004 Rolex...
TRG Race Transporter Sustains Heavy Fire Damage; Team Resolved to Make It to Daytona
Sonoma, CA and Gila Bend, AZ -- January 25, 2004 - The 53-foot TRG race transporter, en route from Sonoma, CA to Daytona, FL for the running of the 2004 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, sustained heavy fire and smoke damage when an axle failed in the rear of the transporter, causing a suspected electrical or tire fire. The driver, Jerry Cowans, was unhurt in the incident. Team TRG immediately jumped into action, as crew members flew into Phoenix from multiple locations and drove to remote Gila Bend, AZ to assess damage and begin transferring salvageable equipment from the damaged trailer to a new, freshly purchased one.
Team owner Kevin Buckler, whose team has won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona twice running, commented on the flurry of activity that has been his weekend. "When we found out late Friday night," said Buckler, "our first reaction was disbelief, then relief when it became apparent that Jerry wasn' t hurt. As he stood on the side of the road in the middle of the desert in Arizona, he let us know that the #66 and #67 cars were heavily smoke damaged, but appeared to be mechanically unharmed."
The immediate problem facing the team was getting the undamaged equipment to Florida in time for the race. Buckler started placing phone calls to acquaintances and business contacts around the country, and within a number of hours had arranged for the purchase and pickup of a new race trailer. At 2:00 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday morning, the deal was consummated, just as the team's travel agent was finalizing agendas and travel arrangements for crew members flying to and from all points. Several crewmembers flew from Los Angeles, Denver and Sacramento to Phoenix, where they discovered that the hydraulic systems in the trailer were not functioning, preventing the crew from removing the cars from the trailer.
Simultaneously, a leased tractor and TRG's new trailer were en route from Los Angeles, CA to Phoenix to begin the process of transferring equipment from one rig to the other.
"The thing that stands out for me from this whole event," said Buckler, "is the response of my crew to our emergency. They had all just packed up the old trailer and sent it down the road to Daytona. All the bins were closed, all the tools were in place, and every sticker on the cars was perfect. They had all gone back to their homes for one last weekend of rest before the season started. But every last one of them has the same determination I have -- to deal with adversity, handle the situation like professionals, and just put their heads down and go to work. There's no way on earth that I would bet against my crew getting us to Daytona in time. Anybody can ride the ship when it's just cruising along, but when something like this happens you really find out what your team is made of. My guys reacted just as I expected."