Sweedler and Bell Join Scuderia Corsa

 Sweedler and Bell Join Scuderia Corsa for 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

North American Endurance Cup winning duo will drive no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia in GT-Daytona class

November 6, 2014 (Los Angeles, Calif.) – Demonstrating its commitment to winning the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Scuderia Corsa is proud to announce the addition of drivers Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell to the team.Sweedler and Bell will pilot the team’s flagship no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia in the GT Daytona class. At the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia during the 2014 TUDOR Championship season, Sweedler and Bell were victorious in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona and handily won the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. The duo led much of the season championship in the GT-D class, and winning the championship in 2015 remains their primary goal.

Good Luck to Bill and Townsend!

Michael Shank Racing Ready For 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship


Daytona Prototype for Rolex 24 before moving to all-new JS P2 Ligier Prototype for Sebring and beyond

f10972c2-2023-40e6-9926-2d84db2855fePataskala, Ohio (7 November 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will return to IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competition in 2015, with longtime Shank drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri teaming up for a full-season campaign in the top Prototype class.

“This is really exciting news for me and this entire team,” said Shank. “Getting John and Ozz back, I think we’ve got all the tools we need to be successful in 2015.”

The Ohio-based team will utilize the familiar Riley/EcoBoost Daytona Prototype combination for the season opening 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona as Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian pursues a second victory in the prestigious endurance race. The organization won the 2012 event with Pew and Negri who were joined by AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson.

da6b1db4-6cf2-4a0f-be10-731efc7350d8The second round of the 2015 TUDOR Championship at Sebring International Raceway will see the Shank squad arrive with a new technical package, moving to the JS P2 Ligier Prototype. The closed-cockpit Prototype was constructed by Onroak Automotive, making its competition debut in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans before winning the Six Hours of Fuji in October and the Six Hours of Shanghai in FIA World Endurance Championship competition last weekend.

“I’m very happy to be returning to race for Mike (Shank) again,” said Pew, who has raced for Michael Shank Racing since 2007.  “We’re thrilled to be back to contest for the 2015 TUDOR Championship, and having the opportunity to move to the new Ligier JS P2 is very exciting. The Michael Shank Racing team works so hard at the track as well as away from it and I know they’ll be working hard over the off season to have us as prepared as ever for the new season. Driving with Ozz is great. He continues to push me and everyone else on the team to succeed and we’re even more motivated to do so this year.”

The 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark Pew and Negri’s 58th start together as co-drivers.

“I’m looking forward to being back in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the challenge of learning this new car,” said Negri, who has competed in the IMSA ranks for over 10 years and has also logged thousands of laps as a test driver in a range of machinery. “There is a lot of work to be done, but Michael Shank Racing is always ready to rise to the occasion. This new package is going to make for an exciting year and I’m very happy to be doing so with John (Pew) as my partner. We learned a lot last season and we have a great opportunity ahead of us in 2015.”

Michael Shank Racing has been competing in sportscar racing since 2004 and has over 230 Daytona Prototype starts to the team’s credit and over 32,000 laps completed. The move to the Ligier platform will mark a significant new direction for the team, with several long term ambitions in mind.

“I think we’ve got a great package for the Rolex 24 this year and I’m really excited about the potential for us with the new car starting at Sebring,” said Shank. “It is a very big change for us, but we are confident that it will be a positive one and we are looking forward to making the most of what our technical partners are bringing to this effort.”

The move to the new platform marks a foot forward for Onroak Automotive to strengthen its North American presence while also potentially opening up additional international opportunities in the future.

“The completion of this agreement with MSR for the sale of a Ligier JS P2 is a great satisfaction for Onroak Automotive.,” said Jacques Nicolet, Onroak Automotive President. “MSR is one of the best-established, well-known teams in endurance racing in the United States. The fact that they have chosen us to make the transition to LM P2 is a real reward for all the efforts we’ve invested this year to make ourselves known on the American continent. I would like to wish MSR the greatest possible success.”

Michael Shank Racing will announce its expanded driver line-up for the longer endurance events in the coming weeks.

The annual Roar Before the 24 test days at Daytona International Speedway kicks off the 2015 TUDOR Championship season on January 9-11, 2015..

Ultra-Durable AERO Advanced Paint Technology™ Withstands Season-long track exposure


b32bff11-a806-4f92-b9a3-6f1058c067c6Columbus, Ohio – AERO Advanced Paint Technology™ sets a new standard in durability for motorsports applications. By engineering the properties of AERO to meet the demands of the aerospace industry, the AERO team was able to leverage the best qualities of protective films along with the aesthetic value of spray applied paints into a single stage applique film. The result is a lightweight, easy-to-install paint that will stand up to the rigorous track environment without degradation.

Michael Shank Racing continued to utilize AERO Advanced Paint Technology through the end of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in the No. 60 Ford Ecoboost powered Riley prototype.

Throughout the season, the car’s livery was offended by stones, grit, and rubber, race after race. However, by painting the car with AERO, MSR was never required to swap out the livery due to chipping, abrasion, or erosion. The team ran the same hood and bumpers for the entire season without an issue, even in the high wear areas.

Nonetheless, with changes in sponsorship and design, AERO’s easy-to-strip, easy-to-install proprietary adhesive gave Shank the ability to easily change the side panels on their own terms. This allowed for easy sponsorship additions, specialty livery options, and race-day changes.

Team owner Michael Shank has become a big advocate of the durability of AERO Advanced Paint Technology.

“The AERO paint system is truly remarkable in the way it has held up throughout the season,” Shank commented. “The paint, the graphics, and the carbon underneath all look brand new. And all we need to do with the cars—and pit equipment—is a quick wipe down with surface cleaner after the race.”

The long-term durability means fewer livery replacements, and therefore a reduction in total costs.

ee8bcb99-6143-47a3-86de-716cddedd780The durability of AERO Advanced Paint Technology™ goes beyond protecting value adding aesthetics, but also substrate materials. Carbon fiber parts are expensive to create and costly to replace. As such, protecting these materials with AERO protects the investment made, and therefore also helps reduce teams’ costs. Nonetheless, collisions in motorsports are inevitable. When impacts occur on track, AERO’s super strong film and adhesive can help hold carbon fiber parts together, thereby preventing a black flag or a mandatory pit stop.

Unlike other film-based systems, AERO does not suffer from texturization or discoloring over time. Throughout the lifetime of the product, the proprietary, self-healing AERO Clear Coat will continue to enhance the vibrancy and luster of the AERO, without yellowing or hazing. A season’s worth of wear and tear in harsh environments such as Laguna Seca would typically leave a great deal of abrasion and stone impingement on spray applied or vinyl, requiring the use of clear bra.

“We’ve engineered AERO to have better durability than substitutes, without the need for additional protective films, and we’re still lighter,” stated Jim McGuire, CEO of AERO’s parent company, entrotech. He continued “there’s a real competitive advantage here for teams like MSR, especially when cost savings has become more important than ever.”

Michael Shank finished the 2014 TUDOR Championship  season sixth, achieving a second place finish at Road America.

In addition to its long-term durability, AERO Advanced Paint Technology™ reduces maintenance time versus ordinary paint. AERO paint can be applied and stripped in minutes, since it does not require drying. More information on AERO paint is available at www.rethinkpaint.com.

IMSA Racers Turned Denver Broncos Radio Hosts

The Frisselle brothers host Broncos football radio show in hometown of Aspen, Colorado

f85d623a-7ea6-47fe-af91-651d8186f291Aspen, Colo. (24 October 2014) – On any given weekend during the racing season, it’s typical that you’ll find Burt and Brian Frisselle turning laps at a race track in some form of high-performance machinery. The two have competed in the IMSA ranks for 10 years and share multiple race wins between them in the premiere IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship prototype category. While at the track, it’s clear the brothers are passionate about the world of motorsports, but the two also share an equally different passion all together – pro football. Denver Broncos football to be exact.

That passion has seen Burt and Brian take on a new role as radio hosts. The driving pair host a weekly Denver Broncos radio show in their hometown of Aspen, Colorado.

Though the “Bronco Brothers” didn’t grow up in Colorado – having lived in California, New Hampshire and Hawaii – the two were raised to be fans of the Denver team. Their mom Terrye was born and raised in Denver while their dad Brad – who was also a longtime IMSA racer – went to high school and college in Colorado. Having inherited the love of Broncos football, the Frisselle brothers have been fans of the team for as long as they can remember.

The radio show, known as ‘Broncos Talk’, came about through a friend the brothers had met while participating in a high intensity, interval training (HI2T) fitness class. Dave Bach is a local Aspen radio personality on 106.1 FM and had Burt and Brian on his own show prior to the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen to discuss the Frisselles’ racing endeavors.

“We had been on Dave’s show to talk racing,” said Brian Frisselle. “Once fall started getting closer, I was thinking more and more of the Broncos. I asked Dave if there were any Aspen radio shows focused on the Broncos. When he said that there wasn’t, I told him I really thought there should be. That opened the door and he later approached us to do a Broncos-focused show with him. Everyone involved at the radio station thought it was a great idea.”

The show airs every Friday at 3:15 PM MT. The Frisselles typically tape the show earlier in the week whenever their busy travel schedules allow. The show, which airs on 106.1 FM in Aspen, highlights the Broncos and their AFC West Division rivals.

“We talk about the Broncos’ upcoming opponents and we also discuss at least four other match ups that we consider the most interesting – usually the teams that the Broncos are most affected by,” explained Burt Frisselle.

While in the motorsport world, it’s usually the Frisselles who are in the spotlight, the radio show allows a bit of a role reversal for the brothers.

“I think it’s why Burt and I enjoy pro football so much,” said Brian. “We get to be on the fan enthusiast side of things and just enjoy the game!”

Local Aspen listeners can catch “Broncos Talk” on 106.1 FM on Fridays at 3:15 PM MT.

Action Express Racing to Field No. 31 Whelen Corvette Daytona Prototype in 2015


Eric Curran and Dane Cameron team up in the No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP for 2015

bd516fc3-6738-4bd3-b7b2-a83d8337dc4bDenver, N.C. (23 October 2014) – Moving from strength to strength, 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Champions Action Express Racing will stage a full-season two-car entry in the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season in the premiere Prototype class.

The Denver, North Carolina-based organization will field the No. 31 Whelen Corvette Daytona Prototype for Whelen Engineering. The Coyote-chassied machine powered by ECR Engines will run alongside the 2014 TUDOR Championship-winning No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

The No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP will feature an all American driver line-up with drivers Eric Curran and Dane Cameron joining forces. Curran campaigned the 2014 TUDOR Championship for Whelen while racing under the Marsh Racing banner.

Cameron has Prototype experience that stretches back to 2007, including a full season at the Prototype level in 2013 that saw him score multiple pole positions and run at the front in many races. He has also proven to be a quick study in GT competition, as he claimed the 2014 IMSA TUDOR GTD Driver Championship title.

The Curran and Cameron pairing is a deeply talented and experienced one, as Curran first joined the IMSA ranks in 2000 and has four Rolex Series race victories to his credit including two behind the wheel of a Whelen Engineering Corvette (Road America 2011, Lime Rock Park 2013) and 15 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge victories. He has made over 70 IMSA starts between his time in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, the GRAND-AM Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series, and American Le Mans Series.

“I’m extremely excited to be moving into my second year in a Daytona Prototype in 2015,” said Curran. “This will be my ninth year with Whelen Engineering and working with Sonny Whelen. I’m especially excited to be moving our whole Whelen Motorsports program over with Action Express who just won the IMSA TUDOR prototype championship in 2014. Whelen Engineering is a great American-based company so to be joining together with a successful American team with two American drivers is just great.”

26-year-old Cameron not only enters the 2014 season as the reigning GTD Champion, his championship ways date all the way back to 2005 when he won the Jim Russell Championship Series in California. He went on to win the Palmer Audi Winter Championship in Europe in 2006 and then won the 2007 Star Mazda Championship here in the United States. Cameron was just the second first-year Champion in the 18-year history of Star Mazda.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to step back into the premiere category in the TUDOR Championship and to do so with the reigning prototype champion,” said Cameron, who moved to North Carolina last year and has spent time visiting the Action Express Racing shop. “Partnering with Whelen and Eric (Curran) is a great match all around.”

The No. 31 Corvette DP team will operate out of Action Express Racing’s Denver, North Carolina race shop.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Whelen to align with an organization like Action Express,” said Sonny Whelen. “Their record speaks for itself, and I think that Dane (Cameron) is an exciting American talent who will be a great match for Eric (Curran), who we’ve known for such a long time and has been a great driver for us. Hopefully we can not only enjoy some success on the track, but also continue to raise awareness about the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research by campaigning our Team Fox Corvette DP with our partners at Action Express.”

“This is a tremendous addition to the team, and I think it reflects the incredible hard work and preparation that everyone on this crew has delivered since we first came together in 2010, as well as the leadership that Elton and Gary provide for this team,” said Action Express Racing Team Owner Bob Johnson. “We have known Sonny (Whelen) for a long time and it is great to have that relationship develop into a partnership like this. Dane (Cameron) and Eric (Curran) are both highly sought after for what they can do, and I’m excited about having them become part of the Action Express Racing family.”

Curran and Cameron tested with Action Express Racing earlier this week at Virginia International Raceway in the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype. The two were joined by Action Express Racing championship-winning driver Joao Barbosa at the test and logged over 650 miles at the track.

“Joao (Barbosa) and the Action Express team invited me and Eric to come share a two day test at VIR this week,” said Cameron. “This team just hasn’t stopped working as the whole organization looks to build a one team, two car program. We are all getting along well. It’s not very often you get to go testing with the team and driver that just won the championship. It was an incredible opportunity.”

“The test was great, I don’t think in all of my years of racing, I’ve ever done a test within two weeks of finishing a season,” added Curran. “It’s really important to just understand personalities and meet people so it was great for Dane (Cameron) and I to come in and meet all the guys on the team and get some communication going on the car. It was hugely beneficial to do the two day test. We learned a lot about how the car works – even just the simple things like where the switches are and what it’s like to communicate with the team. It was very beneficial and a big jump start on 2015 so we’re all really excited.”

The 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season opens with official testing at the Roar Before the 24 on January 9-11. The Rolex 24 at Daytona kicks off the 2015 TUDOR Championship race season on January 24.

Action Express Racing Nominated for Microsoft Visual Studio’s Team to Win Grand Prize Award


IMSA Tudor SeriesDenver, N.C. (10 October 2014) – 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Champion Action Express Racing has been nominated for Microsoft Visual Studio’s Team to Win Grand Prize Award following a season in which the North Carolina-based team dominated with three wins and nine podium results in 11 races.

The Grand Prize nomination for Action Express Racing comes after having been nominated for the Team to Win Award three separate times in 2014 for performances that displayed strong teamwork: the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Long Beach and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Action Express won the Long Beach Team to Win Award.

The nomination recognizes what has been an incredible year for Action Express Racing.

There were four championships up for grabs in the 2014 TUDOR Championship season-finale Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta and Action Express Racing swept all four: the Team Championship, two Driver Championships, and the North American Endurance Cup Championship. Marking just its fifth year of competition for the team that won its first-ever race (2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona), the title marks a long sought-after achievement for the team. The 2014 season saw Action Express Racing demonstrate incredible preparation and execution from the crew as well as its principal drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

Action Express Racing’s hard work yielded three race victories and an impressive nine podium results of the season’s 11 events. The team was the only one to have completed every race lap of the year.

Voting is officially underway for the $10,000 year end grand prize. Fans can vote now through Sunday, October 12, 2014, at 12:00 PM ET here: http://on.wsj.com/1nd2ppV. Votes are accepted daily and on phones, computers, laptops and tablets!

Action Express Racing thanks all of its fans for the great support!


Action Express Racing Claims Four Championship Titles in IMSA Season-Finale


Team, Drivers, and Patron Endurance Cup championships went to Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi; Chevrolet Wins Manufacturers Championship

IMSA Tudor SeriesBraselton, Ga. (5 October 2014) – There were four championships up for grabs in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-finale Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on Saturday and Action Express Racing swept all four. To add even more to the celebrations, the team’s No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, and Sebastien Bourdais finished runner-up in the organization’s first appearance in the classic Petit Le Mans.

It was the eighth podium result of the season for Action Express Racing which included victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at Road America.

IMSA 2014:   Tudor United SportsCar Championship Petit Le Mans Oct 04The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype was one of only two cars on the lead lap which further extended the team’s record as the only car to complete every single race lap this year.

“How could I feel any better than this?” said proud Team Owner Bob Johnson. “This is awesome! It’s almost hard to believe! There’s so much to be thankful for. What a great team and what a great group of guys. They worked so hard all year long for this and we’re here! It’s fantastic!”

The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype was the class of the field through the race as the team led 122 laps of the 400-lap event.

The first segment of the Patron Endurance Cup was completed at the four-hour mark when Bourdais ran third in the order. That was enough to give the team a five-point lead in the championship. And when the No. 5 Corvette DP led the race at the completion of the second segment eight hours in, it was enough to clinch the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Championship.

IMSA Tudor SeriesIn a race that saw 13 full course caution periods, the trio of Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Bourdais managed to remain trouble-free and led the race with less than 90 minutes remaining. With just over an hour to go in the race, the No. 10 Chevrolet was able to slide past the No. 5 for the race lead when Fittipaldi got held up by GT traffic. The team held on to second through a furious final hour of racing as Fittipaldi handed the car over to Barbosa who anchored it to the finish and took home a second place podium result in the prestigious Petit Le Mans.

“The successes we are enjoying have come from the skill, hard work and good decision making of each member of the Action Express race team and our supporters,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “It is truly an honor for me to see their efforts come together with these amazing results. We all set many goals each season. One goal that we set (and accomplished) may not be as well known as some of the others which is our goal to remain true to the Action Express Racing mission statement: To successfully race for wins and championships for our owners and sponsors. We will do this within a reasonable budget, in a positive working environment that promotes teamwork, innovation and continuous improvement.”

IMSA Tudor SeriesDespite having an equally strong car with the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype, the team was forced to retire the car early when damage to the machine proved too much to be repaired. Burt Frisselle opened the race from the rear of the field after the car was involved in a qualifying incident and did not set a time. He moved all the way through the combined field of four classes to sit fourth before pitting to hand the car over to his brother and co-driver Brian Frisselle.

A great pit stop saw the No. 9 Corvette DP emerge third in line. Brian had a strong stint and reported that the car was very good around the 2.54-mile road course as he ran among the top-five throughout his entire run. Just over three hours into the race, the Action Express Racing team called Brian to pit road under yellow for routine service and a driver change.

Jon Fogarty took control of the car and set to work as he took the well-performing No. 9 machine to the front to earn valuable points toward the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Fogarty made his way up to run second and into the lead position for the Patron Cup points, only to sustain contact from a GT car that had slowed at the exit of the corner as it appeared to miss a shift.

The result was disappointing for the team which had run strongly all weekend and looked poised for a positive result in the Patron Endurance Cup championship.

Action Express Racing will celebrate the four championships Monday, October 13 in New York City as IMSA celebrates the 2014 season.

A recap show of the Petit Le Mans will be televised Sunday on FOX. Check your local listings.

JOAO BARBOSA, NO. 5 CORVETTE DP: “It feels great. We entered the weekend with a plan to win all the championships we were entered in and what a great year. It was really unbelievable. I’m really proud of all he Action Express Racing guys. We were able to win the team manufacturer championship, drivers championship, and the Patron Cup so it was an amazing year. I’m very proud of everyone involved with this team. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a tremendous year – I’m very proud of everybody.”

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, NO. 5 CORVETTE DP: “It was an awesome season for everyone at Action Express Racing.  Joao, myself and Sebastien all managed to achieve so many great things this year. Winning the Daytona 24, the TUDOR Championship, and the Patron North American Endurance Cup, it’s just been such a great year. I don’t know what to say. It couldn’t be any better than this. Obviously there was a huge team effort from Action Express Racing and we’re very, very excited. The competition was very difficult the whole season and that means we have to work even harder next year.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 5 CORVETTE DP: “It was a great race. The team swept the Tequila Patron Endurance Cup, Driver and the team championship well. So it was a great day for everybody at Action Express, Chevy and ECR and I couldn’t be any happier. I had my small contribution and I was just happy to contribute to this great effort. It was good to be a part of the Action Express Racing organization and hopefully we can do this again next year.”

BURT FRISSELLE, NO. 9 CORVETTE DP: “Once we got to work racing, we had some nice yellows that helped us manage those gaps to the leaders and we were a solid fourth in class and overall. It was a great first stint for me. It was really excited because the car was really easy to drive and it was really comfortable inside the car, and we knew at that point that we had the track position we did. We needed to maintain for the next seven hours and see what we had. It’s a huge bummer that we didn’t get to finish the race and get the result we intended. A huge thanks to the Action Express Racing guys. They did an absolutely great job getting the car ready for the race today.”

BRIAN FRISSELLE, NO. 9 CORVETTE DP: “It’s a bit of a bummer about what happened, but that’s racing. I found that out yesterday in qualifying and sometimes stuff like this just happens. The car was pretty good. I was being pretty conservative out there – coming to grips with things like the brakes. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Action Express gave us and the car they gave us.”

JON FOGARTY, NO. 9 CORVETTE DP: “It was a great opportunity to run with Action Express Racing in the Patron Endurance Cup and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. I’m pretty gutted to have it end like this. We weren’t able to get back out there and compete for what we came for, which was the championship in the Patron North American Endurance Cup. I’m gutted for the Action Express guys and my teammates. The car was fantastic but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We definitely broke something in the steering rack that potentially impacted the power steering motor, as well and Road Atlanta isn’t a place where you want to mess around with that kind of stuff.”

Frustrating Finish to 2014 for Visit Florida Racing


Third in championship as focus moves to 2015

Braselton, Ga. (4 October 2014) – Despite hosting an enthusiastic group of Visit Florida guests on a perfect sunny day at the races and having a very fast Corvette DP race car, the 2014 season didn’t close out as Visit Florida Racing had been hoping on Saturday.

After a qualifying run that placed the No. 90 Visit Florida Corvette DP on the second row to start Saturday’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans, a freak incident during a full-course caution period just before the halfway mark essentially put the No. 90 out of contention in the season-ending IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Petit Le Mans event.

The team, with drivers Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and endurance race specialist Mike Rockenfeller, soldiered on to the finish with the crippled machine in P23 overall (seventh in class), 19 laps down from the winner.

The result thwarted the team’s ambition to return to victory lane and close out the year second in the overall championship. There was good reason for the team to have had confidence for reaching their goals after the opening segments of the race showed the Visit Florida machine to have great pace.

The 17th-annual Petit Le Mans was marked by a record-breaking 13 full-course caution periods and some of the more unexpected incidents in its history, including a fracas in pit lane.

Rockenfeller took the green flag at 11:15am, moving up to take second place during his double stint before handing off to Valiante. Rockenfeller reported having a pretty smooth time in the car after the German DTM star emerged from his first stint.

“It wasn’t too bad,” said ‘Rocky’. “As the tires went off, I had to be careful. Traffic is really the key here, and how you get through. I tried to stay out of trouble, and we are still there.”

During Valiante’s run, the gloves began to come off on track, though he held his ground and topped out his double stint in fourth position.

“We had some contact with one of the GTD cars,” said Valiante. “I guess he didn’t see us when he was passing us, and knocked me back to sixth. We were able to work our way back up to fourth. The car was still fine after the contact, and in good shape.There was a varying degree of driver experience out there, and there have been a lot of incidences with car contact. This whole race is just going to be trying to survive and there is going to be a lot more carnage.”

The prophecy of those words were just about to manifest for the team when Westbrook took over with 3.5 hours of the race completed. While under a caution flag, a GTD class Audi attempted an ill-advised re-positioning move in the middle of a corner while circulating behind the safety car, shoving Westbrook’s Corvette off-course and causing front end damage. While he managed to get the car back to the garage area for repairs, the off-track time and lingering effects of the damage ended the team’s shot at a second victory of the season.

For the balance of the race, Rockenfeller and Valiante each completed another round of double stints before Westbrook was loaded into the Corvette to bring it home.

“We had a lot of promise for a while, we were racing hard and fighting for the win,” reflected Westbrook after the race. “We were in a strong position when the incident happened under full-course yellow which changed our day. It was a really big hit so after that we had so many problems because of the damage on the car. The main thing is we didn’t lose anything in the championship. Of course, we came here today with the objective of taking the fight to the No. 10. Both of the other drivers did really well so it’s a shame. But at least we still finished third in the championship.”

Team Owner, Troy Flis, focused on what the team learned and how it will frame their off-season.

“The story of today wasn’t really the story of our year,” supplied Flis. “At the end of the season, we just weren’t as strong as we were at the beginning. We’ve just got to go back to the shop and work harder. We’ve got to get stronger, get more depth in the team. We’ve got great guys this year and I’m happy about that but we were really hoping to end up second this year, which would have been our best finish in the championship. But we didn’t give up and looking at it as a whole, I think we did a decent job. We’re going to come back next year, get stronger, and work to improve on where we made our mistakes this year.”

Flis also spoke of being motivated by their competition.

“The Action Express guys did a fabulous job all year, they deserve the championship. You’ve got to go beat those guys, you’ve got to learn from them and make your program better so you can take the fight to them. I’m happy, but I’m also sorry we couldn’t have finished the season better for our partners, Visit Florida, GoPro, Chevrolet, everybody who has helped us so much. We appreciate their help.”

Petit Le Mans marks the final race of the 2014 IMSA-sanctioned Tudor United SportsCar Championship but viewers have one more chance to catch the action, Sunday, October 5 on FOX (check local listings).

The cars will kick off the 2015 season at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway.

Promising Pace with Fan Car at Petit Le Mans Does Not Deliver Hoped-for Result For Michael Shank Racing

Braselton, Ga. (4 October 2014) – As one of only two teams in the 52-car field that did not augment their driver line-up for the 10-hour Petit Le Mans enduro classic, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian knew they had their work cut out for them. But with two strong and fit drivers, encouraging performance in practice, and the hopes of hundreds of Michael Shank Racing fans whose photos adorned the Ford EcoBoost/Riley machine, the team was optimistic about closing the 2014 season on a high note.

From a starting position on the third row, driver Oswaldo Negri Jr. made a huge start, charging to third by the end of the first lap. Settling into the rhythm of the race, the team looked well positioned for the day, though Negri did report some shifting problems in the early laps.

Saturday’s cooler conditions definitely helped Ozz during his opening three-stint run.

“It’s cooler and obviously I’ve been training a lot for it,” said Negri, who spent last weekend on triathlon duty. “Mentally I think that will take a bigger toll on the drivers than physically; traffic is crazy out there! The car felt good though. The only problem I had was that we were mis-shifting when I went to downshift. I had to be very careful because when you’re going into a turn with a lot of speed and it’s just not the gear that you called for, it can be a bit scary.”

The shifting problems that Negri reported would continue to worsen over Pew’s double stint though he was able to keep the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Fan Car EcoBoost-Riley in the top-five throughout.

In the fourth hour, Negri re-entered the fray but soon thereafter, the gearbox issue became critical and the team called him to the pit box for repairs.

“As soon as I got in; I went into fourth gear and could hear a gear noise,” said Negri. “We definitely broke fourth gear. So we came in and changed the gear box. Once we were back in the race, I was able to keep up with the No. 01 car that was running in third at the time. At the beginning of the race I was pretty sure we had the pace for a podium finish and we were definitely able to keep up with the top teams.”

Negri and Pew continued to alternate time in the car, doing double-stints each until Pew took over for the final 45-minute run to the checkered flag.

Pew’s fitness level meant he still looked fresh after the race but of course, it took a toll.

“It was a long day!” Pew laughed after taking the checkered flag in his Petit Le Mans debut. “I needed a few more minutes in the car to meet the requirements so I got the last stint. Of course it makes you a little nervous; it’s pitch black out there and you’ve got to bring it home in one piece! There was a lot of stuff going on but we were separated from seventh place by at least a lap so we didn’t have to do anything crazy.”

Team owner Mike Shank took a pragmatic view of the race, particularly in the context of the season’s end.

“The first four hours went literally exactly how we wanted them to, but then we had an electrical issue that caused a shifting problem and it ruined our day,” said Shank. “I feel horrible. We were right on the pace where the No. 01 (Telcel Ford EcoBoost Prototype) was, more or less. It just wasn’t meant to be. It’s been a tough year. We made tons of progress. I’m really proud of what our team has done with Ford Racing and the progress we’ve made from Daytona until now. I’m looking forward to what comes next. I think the progress we’ve made is a sign of what we can still do, and that’s great.”

Petit Le Mans marks the final race of the 2014 IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar Championship but viewers have one more chance to catch the action, Sunday, October 5 on FOX (check your local listings).

Thank you to Ford Racing, Curb Records and the Curb/Agajanian group, AERO Paints, Roberts Service Group, the Rocky Fork Company, Cap and Associates, and CRC Industries for your support and partnership through this inaugural IMSA season.

Thank you as well to all the outstanding MSR fans and the entire Michael Shank Racing crew for all your tireless efforts, as well as the huge performances and never give up attitude from Michael Shank Racing drivers John Pew, Ozz Negri, Justin Wilson, and AJ Allmendinger.

The 2015 season will kick off at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway.

Oh, Atlanta! Taylors, Angelelli Win Petit Le Mans

Konica Minolta Corvette DP Trio Leads 248 of 400 Laps To Close Season in Style
16 Years after Wayne Taylor Co-Drives To Victory in Inaugural Petit Le Mans in 1998

Date: Oct. 4, 2014
Event: 17th Annual Petit Le Mans (Round 11 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Road Atlanta (2.54-mile, 12-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 2nd          / 1st (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (330 points, 19 out of first)
Winner: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli of Wayne Taylor Racing (Corvette DP)

It’s not the season-ending championship the No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype team for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) set out to accomplish for the second year in a row, but a thoroughly dominating victory in the inaugural Tudor United SportsCar Championship season-ending Petit Le Mans endurance marathon Saturday at Road Atlanta will certainly do.

This year’s full-time co-drivers, brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, became the first Americans to bring home an overall win in this 10-hour event 16 years after their father, South African-born Wayne Taylor, co-drove to victory in the very first Petit Le Mans in 1998.

The Taylor brothers shared this dominating victory with veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli, who they shared the driver’s seat with at the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events this season – the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen being the other three.

Together, they led 248 of the 400 laps completed today around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course, including Jordan Taylor’s final 65 laps at the point after getting past Christian Fittipaldi in the season-long championship-winning No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP with one hour and 27 minutes to go before the checkered flag.

It was the team’s third consecutive victory in a season finale, the previous two years at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition. Last year’s clinched the final Rolex Series driver championship for Jordan Taylor and Angelelli.

Tonight’s victory also put an exclamation point on the 100th race since the inception of Wayne Taylor Racing at the outset of the 2007 Rolex Series season, and it was the team’s second victory of the season to go with the Taylor brothers’ triumph on the Belle Isle street circuit in downtown Detroit in June.

“My Dad won the first one (Petit Le Mans), so we have always heard about it,” Jordan Taylor said after his seventh Prototype-class victory in the past two seasons and eighth career sports car win. “He always talks so highly of it and puts it up there with Le Mans and Sebring and Daytona as his overall wins. It was definitely cool to do it. Especially with Max (Angelelli) with us. We had a great Daytona. Finished second there, so it is nice to close the season with a win and kind of doing it in dominant fashion, where we pretty much led the whole race. That was pretty cool. It is definitely momentum going into the offseason. The last two races, we had the car to beat so we are looking forward to next season.”

Once Taylor got past Fittipaldi at the eight-hour, 33-minute mark, he was able to quickly stretch the lead to more than 30 seconds. When Fittipaldi pitted for fuel and to hand the No. 5 Corvette DP over to Joao Barbosa with 39 minutes to go, Taylor drove on by to put him a lap down. Taylor made his final fuel stop with 33 minutes remaining and had a full lap plus six-second lead on Barbosa. He resumed more than 30 seconds ahead and held that gap until the caution flag flew with 17 minutes remaining in the race for an accident in the esses.

The race returned to green with six minutes and 30 seconds remaining with 11 cars on track between Taylor and the second-place Barbosa. Taylor was able to pull away over the final seven laps and crossed the finish line 11 seconds ahead of Barbosa.

“It was a great way to finish the season,” said Ricky Taylor, who qualified second and started the race, and passed the polesitting Barbosa for the lead on lap 10, 12 minutes into the race. “Great finish for Chevrolet for another one-two finish. Congratulations to the No. 5 car for the championship. We wish we were there to fight for the title win this weekend, but we will come back next year even stronger. We went from the lead the first half of the race, to a lap down, and back to the win. It was great.”

Ricky Taylor was in the lead when he pitted under caution to hand the No. 10 Corvette DP over to his brother on lap 68, one hour and 39 minutes into the race. Quick work by the WTR crew put Jordan Taylor back out on track in the lead.

Angelelli’s lone appearance behind the wheel was a lengthy triple stint in the middle stages of the race and, like the Taylor brothers, he was able to avoid numerous opportunities for trouble in a race slowed by 13 caution periods.

“Everyone on the team did a good job, including the drivers,” said Angelelli, who celebrated his 27th career sports car victory. “We definitely delivered. I am really happy for Chevy. Our Corvette DP was the fastest car on track. We won the race and this race for me is special because it is the fourth big race in the championship. I only need to win Sebring and then I have everything. Winter is going to be very short because we will be back soon ready for next year.”

The victory pulled the team within 19 points of Fittipaldi and Barbosa and the No. 5 Corvette DP team in the final standings of this inaugural Tudor series season. A pair of first-lap, first-turn incidents at the previous three events – not of the No. 10 team’s making – along with a broken steering system that led to the team’s only DNF (did not finish) of the season at the other event, knocked the team out of the points lead it held for the middle part of the season.

Angelelli and the Taylor brothers also finished second to the No. 5 Corvette DP in the Endurance Cup championship-within-a-championship. They entered the weekend just six points out of the lead but the No. 5 team was able to stay close enough to the No. 10 Corvette today at the points-paying four- and eight-hour marks to hang onto the lead.

“Winning this race 16 years ago, when Ricky and Jordan were 9 and 7, and now coming here and watching them win it with Max is just unbelievable,” said team owner and three-time sports car racing champion Wayne Taylor. “But winning it could never have been done without the support of Mark Kent and Jim Campbell and Mark Reuss and everybody from Chevrolet. And Konica Minolta, who really saved the day when they came on to sponsor us after Daytona and Sebring, I can’t be thankful enough. The team was flawless today, the drivers were flawless. We’ve had the best drivers all year. They’ve just not had the best luck. I think tonight proved what they can do. I do want to congratulate the No. 5 team on the championship. Those guys ran pretty flawlessly all year. They never put a wheel wrong. They deserved the championship.”

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship kicks off the 2015 season with the traditional Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Jan. 24-25.