Eden Prairie, MN: (August 22nd, 2001): Leighton Reese and his Banner Racing Team are heading to the rolling hills of the Mid-Ohio racecourse on a simple mission. Mid-Ohio will host the 9th round of the historic Trans-Am Series for the BF...
Eden Prairie, MN: (August 22nd, 2001): Leighton Reese and his Banner Racing Team are heading to the rolling hills of the Mid-Ohio racecourse on a simple mission. Mid-Ohio will host the 9th round of the historic Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Cup on Saturday August 25th.
The 2001 Trans-Am season has been anything but simple for Reese, who missed the first three races due to an off-season skiing accident. Reese, despite his late start, is 12 points out of 10th spot and 22 points out of 9th. The simple goal for the rest of the season will be on finishing and finishing strong. But this season has been anything but simple.
Starting the season it seemed simple to change the body on the existing chassis and continue as usual. The conversion from a Pontiac Grand Prix to a Chevy Corvette has not been simple.
While simply changing the exterior bodywork on the same chassis, as used in the 2000 season with great success, doesn't sound like much of a challenge; the fact is that the 2001 Corvette body has significantly changed many aspects of the race setup used by the team.
"The set-up is completely different with the Corvette body," explained crew chief Joe Kantarik. "At a track like Mid-Ohio and Road America the set-up is entirely different. We have changed spring rates, shock settings, rear wing angle, and of course gearing."
Gearing the car is an art form that Kantarik specializes in and it is a common occurrence seeing the Banner Engineering crew take out the transmission and change gearing. The rear-end gearing is rarely changed to effect gearing changes in Trans-Am cars. Those changes are done in the transmission and when one car has much more drag and wind resistance that another. The transmission gearing has to be changed to optimize straight-line performance.
"At Road America we had to set the car up a couple of gears lower for the Corvette," said Kantarik. "The Corvette body has a lot of down force and that means drag. We were faster in the turns, but much slower (than the Grand Prix body used last season) on the straights."
Interestingly the last time Reese raced at Mid-Ohio it was in a Corvette bodied Trans-Am car. After a string of bad luck Reese borrowed a car from Rocketsports team owner Paul Gentilozzi. Leighton finished comfortably in the top ten after starting last in a 38 car field on a track that is not very easy to pass on.
Joe and Leighton Reese are hoping that the down force and drag that worked against them on the long straights at Road America will be an advantage on the hilly and curvy Mid-Ohio racetrack.
"We have the flat tracks finally figured out with this car," commented Kantarik. "Mid-Ohio has many elevation and camber changes, but the high down force of the Corvette should help us at Mid-Ohio!"
While Mid-Ohio has never been particularly kind to Reese he is anxious to continue the momentum the team gathered after a strong 4th place finish in the last race and continue the drive to towards the top of the standings.