Utah: Derhaag Motorsports early out race report

Derhaag Motorsports ...

Derhaag Motorsports #40 Daytona Prototype falls short at Grand American Road Racing Series Finale at Miller Motorsports Park

Tooele, Utah (Sept. 2, 2006) -- In a season of ups and down, the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley has faired well in the Daytona Prototype field that has included some of the most talented drivers in the world. But today, in the season finale at Miller Motorsports Park, the race gods were not working in their favor. Derhaag Motorsports was forced to retired the car driven by Paul Dallenbach, Randy Ruhlman, and Justin Bell just 26 laps into the nine-hour event, when the engine failed and a full engine replacement was not allowed by the rules.

The car practiced well over the three days leading up to the Grand American Road Racing Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve 2006 season finale at Miller Motorsports Park. All three drivers posted equally fast times and the qualifying draw fell to Paul Dallenbach, who had driven with Ruhlman at Watkins Glen. Dallenbach got the car a seventeenth place starting spot in the 26 car Daytona Prototype field, just behind the #39 Crown Royal car of Christian Fittipaldi.

Since he had qualified, Dallenbach was scheduled to start and be followed by full-time team driver Randy Ruhlman. Justin Bell, Ruhlman's Rolex 24 At Daytona and Homestead teammate, was scheduled to drive third. Dallenbach had a great start and kept the #40 Preformed Line Products car within sight of the leaders, as the field began to work their way through traffic.

Just as the one-hour mark approached, the car began to show signs of smoke on the turns. A couple of laps later, as Dallenbach brought the car in for a scheduled driver change and pit stop, white smoke began billowing from under the rear deck lid of the car. Crew members worked to find the smoking problem, as the others worked the pit stop for gas and tires and help strap Ruhlman in for his first race stint in the car. The car was ready to head out of the pit; when suddenly, the crew gave Ruhlman the engine kill sign. Ruhlman stayed in the car as the crew pushed the car to the garage and the problem was assessed, but a broken head on the engine proved terminal for the #40 Derhaag Motorsports team. This was the first mechanical failure to force an early retirement in years, as the team had continued an exceptional run of mechanical reliability from its time in Trans-Am.

The final race of the 2006 season of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve began at noon today, September 2nd, at the newly built road course at Miller Motorsports Park, in Tooele, Utah. Randy Ruhlman, Paul Dallenbach, and Justin Bell were scheduled to pilot the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley for the nine-hour race at the 4.5-mile, 23-turn race track located just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The series finale was the only nine-hour race of the season and was Round Fourteen of a series that began with the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Discount Tires Sunchaser at Miller Motorsports Park featured 26 Daytona Prototypes and 18 GT cars taking the green flag at Noon on Saturday, September 2nd with LIVE television coverage on SPEED beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year", won the 2005 Cleveland Grand Prix Trans-Am race and Long Beach Grand Prix, and was runner up for the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship. Ruhlman makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history.

Ruhlman from Greensboro, NC has been a professional race car driver since his Rookie year in Trans-Am in 1990 and has extensive racing experience, predominantly in road racing in the Trans-Am Series, as well as in IMSA, ASA and the NASCAR short track series.

Paul Dallenbach is a veteran race car driver with experience in Formula cars, short track and ASA, rally and hill climbs, Trans-Am and Daytona Prototypes. Paul is a winner and record holder on the famous Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb, and has a second place finish at the Daytona 24 Hour race. He was the Rookie of the Year in Formula Atlantics and VW Cup, and has numerous rally and hill climb records. He drove in Daytona Prototypes this year at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the No. 74 car with his brother, Wally Dallenbach, and Darin Brassfield, both long time Trans-Am/IMSA and NASCAR drivers. Paul Dallenbach currently works extensively as a precision driver and has a myriad of commercial driving credits to his name.

Justin Bell has competed numerous times at LeMans, as well as at the Rolex24 at Daytona, with multiple wins in class at both races. The Great Britain native won the 1997 FIA GT2 Champion and was the 2001 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year, scoring two wins in Trans-Am Series competition. Bell competed with Derhaag Motorsports in the past in Trans-Am and at Daytona, where he set the 2003 GTS qualifying record. Justin Bell's new business venture, Blue Planet Events, is "a place where cars are driven as they were designed to". He combines exquisite event planning and personalized service for "people who enjoy life to the maximum."

-credit: derhaag motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Christian Fittipaldi , Justin Bell , Randy Ruhlman , Darin Brassfield , Paul Dallenbach