Portland, Ore: (August 4th, 2001): Leighton Reese and his Banner Engineering Corvette finished 10th in the Tommy Bahama 125 Trans-Am Series race at Portland International Raceway as the Banner Racing team played host to Banner Engineering ...
Portland, Ore: (August 4th, 2001): Leighton Reese and his Banner Engineering Corvette finished 10th in the Tommy Bahama 125 Trans-Am Series race at Portland International Raceway as the Banner Racing team played host to Banner Engineering Distributors Cascade Controls and Banner Engineering CEO and founder Bob Fayfield.
The race, won by fellow Minnesota driver Tommy Archer of Duluth in his Cinjo Racing Dodge Viper, was anything but dull as Leighton finished the race with next to zero visibility in his smoke filled car and a large car part stuffed into the nose of his Banner Engineering Corvette.
The wildness started early on the first lap as Leighton Reese's pre-race premonition was dead on about there being a possibility of trouble in the first turn. The Festival turn was a big melee on lap one, turn one as the Trans-Am field headed into the Festival turn, turned out to be anything but.
"Several cars got turned around and I got sandwiched in between some cars and couldn't move," Reese said recounting the first lap excitement. "After things got straightened out and got moving I was pretty much dead last. The nose got damaged some, but otherwise there was no real damage."
Broken nose or not, Reese made several passes and was moving back up through the field when he hit a panel from another car on one of the faster parts of the course.
"I hit what I think was the door from Randy Ruhlmans Corvette," Reese said. "Although I can't be sure whose body part it actually was. I was right behind another car going nearly 150 when that car quickly moved aside and there it was. I ran over the body panel!"
"The crew changed the tire when I came in for our fuel stop," Reese continued. "The car was really working great after that point."
Well enough that Leighton began passing cars and moved steadily back into the top ten. Yet another crash brought out a late full course caution with Reese and the Banner Engineering Corvette in 8th spot. Just a few laps were left in the race, but the troubles were far from over.
"We took the green with 3 laps left to go," Reese said. "And on the restart Lou Gigliotti and Mike Davis crashed. I drove over the wreckage, which was everywhere, and put a hole in the radiator and the oil cooler. I had a piece of a car sticking out of the front of my car!"
"I finished with so much smoke in the car I could barely see and it was oiling up the tires too," Leighton explained. "We had about zero oil pressure at the end of the race, but we got home in 10th."
Leighton Reese and his Banner Engineering racing Corvette will continue on the Trans-AM series tour as the series heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. on August 18th where the Trans-AM Series will share the venue with the CART series.