Eden Prairie, MN. - Leighton Reese, injured in a skiing accident, will miss at least the season opener of the 2001 Trans-Am Series. Reese started looking for an experienced driver to drive the Banner Engineering Corvette and his search ended in...
Eden Prairie, MN. - Leighton Reese, injured in a skiing accident, will miss at least the season opener of the 2001 Trans-Am Series. Reese started looking for an experienced driver to drive the Banner Engineering Corvette and his search ended in Oakville, Ontario. Kenny Wilden, whose experience includes wins and top finishes in Formula Atlantic, Trans-Am and Showroom Stock cars, will drive at Sebring and possibly Long Beach.
"We are fortunate to be able to get a driver of Kenny's ability into our car," Reese said. "Since we made so many changes to the car, I needed someone who could properly setup the car and understand how one of these cars is supposed to perform." While the 2001 Banner Engineering entry is based on last season's Grand Prix, extensive modifications have been made during the off season.
Wilden, winner of last seasons Trans-Am race at Laguna Seca, is enthusiastic about the opportunity. "I'm very happy to be driving at Sebring," commented Wilden. "I'm glad to be helping out. With Leighton's experience setting up the car for Sebring will help a lot with the car." Kenny also has experience at the Sebring track having raced in the 12-hour race three times in the 90's.
Kenny Wilden's four race package with Derhaag Motorsports during the 2000 Trans-Am season was highlighted by a dominating performance at Laguna Seca, he won the race from the pole recording the fastest race lap claiming the Simple Green Clean Sweep Award, and a strong run at Las Vegas in which late race contact cost him a certain podium finish.
Banner Engineering, producers of the industry's most complete integrated line of photoelectric sensors and fiber optics will return as the major team sponsor. Associate sponsorship will also come from Trop-Artic Motor Oils and Lubricants from Phillips 66 and Bokers Inc, a Minneapolis based provider of custom washers and spacers. Both Phillips 66 and Bokers are returning associate sponsors of Leighton Reese Racing.
New associate sponsorship is coming from Continental Property Group of Wayzata, MN. Brad Hoyt's group will be providing a new truck and trailer to hall the car and equipment to the races. Additionally, Harry Schwartz's Epic Racing will provide public relations work and various gear sets in support of Leighton Reese's 2001 efforts.
The car will feature the 2001 Corvette body work covering Reese's own chassis, but the car has undergone many significant changes to the suspension and brakes, as well as modification to the roll cage and frame to convert the car to fit the new Corvette bodywork.
"I think that the Corvette body should provide much better down force," commented Kenny Wilden. "This body will have a much better aerodynamic advantage over the Grand Prix body."
Wilden, whose most recent experience is in the Toyota Atlantic series, compared driving open wheeled cars to Trans-Am cars. "The major difference is," Wilden said. "A Trans-Am car takes more finesse. You can tend to over drive the car. You need to be patient, conserve the tires and brakes. The trick is to have a good car at the end (of the race)."
Leighton Reese was injured while skiing with his family in Steamboat Springs in mid February. He broke his forearm and injured his shoulder when he had heavy contact in a fall. "I have been skiing all my life," commented Reese. "I don't even know how I did it, but it was extremely painful." Reese, who had surgery last week to fix his injuries, is hoping to be back in the car in 6 to 8 weeks.