Long Beach: Notebook

Trans-Am Series Long Beach Notebook LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Sunday's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, paid homage to America's military forces. The Series will request every...

Trans-Am Series Long Beach Notebook

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Sunday's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, paid homage to America's military forces. The Series will request every car entered in the race to carry decals representing America's five military branches--Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy, as well as American flag decals.

Also, a moment of silence was observed during pre-race ceremonies to honor those who have died in defense of America.

"We are privileged to honor our fighting men and women deployed at home and abroad," said Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. "With the events taking place throughout the world, we thought it was only fitting to show our appreciation for our military. It is through the great sacrifice of our troops that we enjoy the freedom we have in this country today."

Also, United States Marine Corps. Gunnery Sergeant Alex Cabero, and Staff Sergeants Brent Englehart and Steve Kline will give the command to start engines prior to today's race. Cabero, Englehart and Kline are stationed at the Marine Corps. Command here in Long Beach.

* Mike Davis and Claudio Burtin changed engines in their cars prior to the start of Sunday's race.

Due to the engine change, Davis, who timed 12th in qualifying, will start 14th, while Burtin won't lose a spot as he qualified 16th, last in the field. Marvin Jones, George Nolte and Joey Scarallo will start 17th, 18th, and 19th, because they failed to meet the 110 percent rule.

* Davis, Johnny Miller, and Stu Hayner all have California roots. Davis owns ACS Express Racing out of Huntington Beach, Calif. and drives the No. 11 New Century Mortgage/Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang. Miller grew was born in Van Nuys, Calif. and spent his college summers in California. Hayner lives in Yorba Linda, Calif., 45 minutes from Long Beach.

* Davis' son my lose his driving privileges as he was clocked doing 105 on the 405 Freeway near here. Davis wouldn't disclose which one of his sons was charged with the events.

"My son got stopped in my V-12 Mercedes CL600 on the 405," said Davis. "He went 105, but I plan to go 170 on Sunday."

* The Trans-Am Series for debuted its new Jaguar X-Type Safety Car over the weekend. The red, all-wheel-drive machine was supplied by Series sponsor Jaguar.

BBS Wheels, sponsor the "BBS Most Improved Driver Award" and wheel supplier to virtually every car in the Trans-Am Series field, furnished four of its 18" RK wheels for the Safety Car.

According to BBS Motorsports Director Bill Baker, motorsports is key to BBS' marketing efforts.

"BBS was founded as a racing wheel manufacturer," said Baker. "We believe in the saying: 'technology through motorsports.' Nearly 99.9 percent of the cars in the paddock run on BBS wheels. It is through the research gained here at the track that BBS can continue to broaden and improve its products."

* Gary Blalock, tire engineer for BFGoodrich® Tires, said teams have had virtually no problems concerning tires in the first round practice and qualifying.

"We've had no issues whatsoever," said Blalock. "We've had a couple of flat spots and a few cuts, but that's to be expected."

Blalock heads up the BFGoodrich® Tires team at each race. In fact, Blalock takes tire temperatures after each session, using a proprietary software package on a Palm Pilot and uploads it to a database on a laptop computer. Blalock said he keeps records going back six years.

"I looked at last year's data before I came here," said Blalock. "I have a bar graph here, in addition to the raw data, that's easy to look at. I can look at the slope of the temperature bar, and I'll go through these before I talk to the teams. If the temperatures are indeed elevated, I'll have a conversation with that team, concerning suspension setup." BFGoodrich® Tires also brings a mobile metrology station to each race, which allows the team to calibrate their air pressure gauges and pyrometers. This is just part of the service Blalock gives to the teams.

"We offer the full package," said Blalock. "We believe in quality products and quality service. I honor each and every one of the people in this paddock as my friends."

* Teams were given the opportunity late in each practice session and qualifying to pit to change tires to transport their cars back to the paddock. This was done so the teams could get their cars back to the paddock without cutting or damaging their tires.

Series rules require a car qualify and race on the same tires, and tires were marked after qualifying, then changed to allow for transport. The qualifying tires were then put back on the car prior to the race.

* Trans-Am Series driver Bob Ruman was unable to compete this weekend due to a stomach abscess, requiring minor surgery. Series Marketing Manager Dee Duncan had each driver sign a green flag as a greeting card for Ruman. Duncan plans to send the flag to Ruman following this weekend's event.

* Two-time Series champion and polesitter for Sunday's race Scott Pruett appeared on "Car and Driver Radio" with host Alan Taylor on Saturday afternoon. The interview was part of a live remote held by 97.1 FM in the Exhibition Center at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

* The traffic jams so prevalent in Southern California took a strange turn Thursday as three Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup cars were towed off turn eight of the Long Beach Street Course, and up Pine Avenue during rush hour. The Jaguar XKRs of Paul Gentilozzi and Scott Pruett; and the Chevrolet Corvette of Stu Hayner were being transported to the "Thursday on Pine Ave.," being held by the Downtown Long Beach Associates in downtown Long Beach.

A police escort helped the three cars negotiate traffic, before being placed on display at the event. Crews from Rocketsports Racing and Revolution Motorsports mingled with crowd, answered questions, and even allowed several happy fans the chance to sit behind the wheel of Hayner's Corvette.

Drivers Pruett, Gentilozzi, Johnny Miller, Hayner, Bobby Sak, and Randy Ruhlman all signed autographs for the many racing fans in attendance.

* Three cars took part in the Series' "Trans-Am Revealed" program Saturday morning. The Corvette of Hayner, the Mustang of Boris Said and the Jaguar XKR of Pruett had body panels removed for inspection by other teams and the Trans-Am Series technical staff. The objective of the program is to remove any secrecy regarding each team's design as it relates to chassis and hardware configurations.

* Trans-Am Series Timing Chief Connie Peplowski had each driver sign a Series hero card during its autograph session to be sent to U.S. Marine Corps. Sergeant Bobby Griffith, Jr. Griffith is currently stationed in Iraq as part of Operating Iraqi Freedom. Griffith's father is a longtime Trans-Am Series corner worker from Ohio.

* Four-time Trans-Am Series champion and current Trans-Am Series SPEED Channel analyst Tommy Kendall has never won at Long Beach. In fact, he was one lap away from victory in 1996 when his car suffered electrical problems while in the lead. Jamie Galles went on to win.

"I was driving a Ford Mustang and Paul Gentilozzi was driving a Chevy," said Kendall. "Paul was walking through the pits before the race saying: 'Chevy is better than Ford.' I told him: 'I'd rather push my Ford than drive a Chevy.' So, my car stops, and I get out. Suddenly some guy in the stands yells out: 'I guess you'll be pushing that Ford now, won't you.'"

* Tomy Drissi, who owns a Hollywood motion picture advertising firm, has a winning record when it comes to promoting motion pictures on the hood of his No. 5 Jaguar XKR. Drissi ran "Daredevil, The Movie" on his car late last season, and it topped the box office charts in its opening weekend. Earlier this season, Drissi ran "Phonebooth, The Movie" livery, and again it won the box office race when it opened. One can only wonder how his sponsor this weekend, "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" will fare when it opens later this summer.

-scca pro racing/trans am-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Bob Ruman , Bobby Sak , Claudio Burtin , George Nolte , Marvin Jones , Stu Hayner , Mike Davis , Tommy Kendall