ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Sept. 3 - If the recent two-day test of its brand-new SCCA D-Sports Racer at Sandia Motorsports Park here is any indication, Merloy Racing has a winner. The company's owners - renown engineer Alan Mertens, two-time Indy 500 ...
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Sept. 3 - If the recent two-day test of its brand-new SCCA D-Sports Racer at Sandia Motorsports Park here is any indication, Merloy Racing has a winner.
The company's owners - renown engineer Alan Mertens, two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and construction company executive Mike Maloy - are very pleased with the feedback given by the drivers who logged over l00 laps around the 1.5-mile road course Aug. 26-27 with three different Merloy DSRs.
The car was designed to accept four different engines (Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda), and all but Honda were represented at the test. The Kawasaki used was a stock 1100 "mule" motor; the Yamaha was an R1 prepared by Loyning's Engine Service; and the Suzuki was a GSXR prepared by Nelson Engines and packaged with a Maxim dry sump kit.
One of the four drivers participating was Travis Duder of Los Altos, Calif., who has won the SCCA national championship in DSR five times and has about 20 years of experience in the class.
"I gained a lot of respect for the car and its potential," said Duder. "I have no doubt that this will be a very competitive package.
"The car handles very well; it responds to changes well; I was very comfortable with the driver fit and comfort and feel in the car. I thought the Cheetah was this way, and the Merloy is better. It is a very easy car to drive fast.
"I was to sort out the car that they'll have at the Runoffs, but its handling performance was pretty much spot-on right out of the box," he added.
"These guys have more knowledge, more space and more equipment than any other manufacturer that I've seen," Duder continued. "They are a very serious and talented group of people. It should make a great contribution to DSR."
Other drivers who participated included stock car driver Johnny Antonino; motorsports journalist and commentator Jeremy Shaw and noted Southeast Formula Ford racer Steve Brooks.
Others on hand included GSXR engine builder Sam Nelson and Reg Thurley of Sun State Racing.
"Basically I was very impressed," said Shaw. "It's a nice car. It's good looking and handles very well. It had a few teething problems at the test, which you expect with a new car. They're working hard to solve them, and I believe they will. It's a well balanced car and it's a good car for the category. It has a reasonable amount of power and a reasonable amount of grip. It's a good concept and great fun."
Mertens, who builds the cars, was pleased with the outcome of the test. "Judging by the feedback from the various drivers who tested the car over the two days, I'm very delighted with how the car went and their comments," he said. "We still have a few new-car teething problems to sort out, but we have every indication that the car will be very competitive.
"Nothing major came up; what did were just a few little systems problems," he added. "The basic car seems to be quick right out of the box, easy to drive, has good grip and good handling qualities, and everybody was delighted with the outcome."
"The two days went fantastic," said Maloy, another part owner of the company. "We had some very good drivers who could articulate well about how the car was handling so we could make the changes easily in preparation for the Runoffs. The car performed very well.
"The two main reasons we did this were to refine the set-up and to give the car some exposure to DSR drivers and get their impressions of it," he added. "Having Travis Duder participate was a big deal because he's been in D Sport racing for 20 years, and getting his opinion was important to us because he's very respected. Plus, he was a lot of fun to have out here," Maloy added with a smile.
For more information contact Tom Volk, the car's exclusive distributor, at (419) 535-5665, ext. 117, or Mertens at (505) 247-3222.