Bill Mullen, who is the driver assist specialist with the SunTrust, seemed to be quite busy in the Rolex series Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen that concluded last Saturday. He was involved with the race-winning team on a quite unique aspect- driver changes. Ricky Taylor along with his co-driver Max Angelelli drove the team car to yet another victory in the GRAND AM race and coupled the win at Glen with their achievement at the Lime Rock (Conn.) Park. Unlike other types of motorsports, GRAND AM features co driving team mates who take turns. As Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli crossed the checkered flag in the grueling six hours race, the team knew that there was one more person to be thanked and it was Bill Mullen. His main job was to get the drivers, who were coming in for a pit stop, to get bucked in as fast as they can so that they do not lose time. A lot has to be done by the driver who is about to pass the car to his co driver. Max Angelelli had begun the change process while he was still driving on the tracks and preparing for a pit stop.
After the race, driver Max Angelelli stated that he had to start preparing for the stop by disconnecting the air cooler and his drink tube on the helmet and also the cool suit that has two tubes attached to it. Once he reached to pit box he undid the seat belts so that he could quickly remove the window net to open the door and let his partner take over. It took them an astounding 16 second stint to change the drivers. He also revealed that they practiced for the driver change as it is a small but a very important part of racing as it can decide your fate. Bill Mullen stated that there are a lot of things that are involved in the whole process. First of all the driver has to remember to unplug all the things that have been specified to him so that he just jumps out of the car when it gets to the pit. After the driver is out Bill Mullen has to make sure that the next driver is plugged in safely and all this in just 16 seconds!
Bill Mullen earlier used to do tire changes but he had to quit taking up the position of driver assist specialist because of an injury. Ricky Taylor started the race from the pole position and handed over the car to Max Angelelli in the 28th lap when he was driving on the second spot. After the change Max Angelelli was able to lead the race but they lost a few seconds due to a small incident in the pit spot when the car was handed back to Ricky Taylor. However it was the SunTrust racing that was able to fight against all the odds and leave everybody behind as they crossed the finish line.
On the 29th of May, Dark Star skippered by Jeff Janov charged through the big seas and strong winds and very impressively reinforced his rule on the fleet that took part in theÂ 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship. While Dark Star secured a third and a first and was able to seize a lead of eight points even though there are three races that are remaining on the 31st of May. On the other hand his rival in the same class dropped out of the competition in quite a spectacular style. Piranha, skippered by Dave Voss is amongst the popular ones in its class with a mean cartoon on the spinnaker. However things changed for bad as the Piranha turned against its master and finished on the seventh and the ninth position in a fleet that just had 10 yachts.
Piranha has been a recent class victor of the Newport to Ensenada offshore classic. The yacht was at the frontage of the fleet that was approaching the leeward gate in the first race that took place on Sunday. But the takedown went wrong with the chute as it was left trailing in the water. The crew had to cut it loose as the remaining fleet went upwind. In the next race the yacht got an opportunity as the on-water judges claimed that Dark Star was tacking too close to the first windward mark. The judges whistled as a way of hinting that Piranha should object and the skipper did the same. Dark Star, just then, turned 360-degree which cost them only one or two place en route to the third position. Jeff Janov stated that he believed in what he did and it was just the right thing to be done at that point of time. After some time the backup chute of Piranha just went berserk in the breeze and it rolled the yacht into a starboard broach. Jeff Janov then said that it was something that could have happened to anyone in the race.
After the yachts left the dock the conditions became more extreme as John Busch (principal race officer) called them to an alternate course that was inside the breakwater. The wind there is just as strong but the water is flat. After a while, when the wind went away, the fleet was back only to be greeted by the infamous Long Beach sea breeze. Frederic Scheer’s Far Niente won the first race and was able to bag the fourth spot in the second race to finish the day. Meanwhile Jeff Shew and Bill Durant seem to be in a good position in their maiden effort with their Viva La Vida that was recently bought from Australia.Â The duo is just two points out of the second place and is one of the hottest boats in the last three races. They won in the race that took place on Saturday and secured 2 second spots on Sunday to set themselves up as the runner ups to the leader Dark Star.
The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series has now hit its busiest stretch this season as there are two races scheduled to take place in just six days. It will all begin with Mondayâ€™s Memorial Day Classic scheduled at Lime Rock Park, before the racers and their rides head to historic Watkins Glen International for Sahlenâ€™s Six Hours of The Glen scheduled next weekend. With this schedule on the list there is not going to be any resting time for the racers especially for the racers who will be practicing for the races, qualifying for the event and then racing in the 2 hour and 45 minute races at Lime Park. The tight schedule will leave no room for error as any accident on Monday could easily jeopardize the winning chances of a team in the race scheduled in the afternoon. The Ganassi boys Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett still hold the lead in the Daytona Prototype championship as the duo comes back in action after their first loss of the season at Virginia International Raceway after Action Express Racing Riley-Porsche of Joao Barbosa, J.C. France and Terry Borcheller defeated the mighty duo at VIR to claim the $25,000 bounty that was announced by GRAND-AM. Now the question that seems to be on everyoneâ€™s mind is whether the defeat was a onetime fluke or the Ganassi boys can be defeated in this race as well.
Other candidates for the coveted racing event include SunTrust Racing and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and especially Dallara-Chevrolet of Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli that secured its one and only win last year. David Donohue and Darren Lawâ€™s No. 5 Action Express machine is one team that is worth considering especially after they claimed their second finish at the podium at VIR in 2010. Six teams will be representing their four manufacturers as the battle for the title heats up. Paul Dalla Lana and Bill Auberlen from team Turner Motorsport lost their two race victory streak at the VIR but their third place finish helped them in maintaining their standings in the championship. On the other hand, the Gunter Schaldach and Oliver Gavinâ€™s Banner Racing Camaro GT.R has been quite consistent in the races as the team has been able to secure 2 runners up finish.Â Another duo that is also prepared for the race is Bill Lester and Jordan Taylor who will be riding an Autohaus Camaro. They have moved up to the third position in the title race after their historic victory at VIR.
As of now Mazda has not visited the victory lane this year but Jonathan Bomarito/ Sylvain Tremblay who will be driving the SpeedSource RX-8s along with Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal will be fighting for the winning opportunity. This squad based in Florida is the defending champions of this event. The Marsh Racing Corvette which is one of two GT teams calls Lime Rock Park their home circuit and should not be counted out either.
Last Saturday was a new start and inspiration for Bill Lester. He became the first black driver to win a Grand-Am Rolex event. Bill Lester teamed up with Jordan Taylor to capture the Rolex Seriesâ€™ GT Class in the stylish looking Bosch Engineering 250 in the Virginia International Raceway. Bill Lester won the Rolex Series GT class racing event in the hometown of Wendell Scott. Wendell Scott was the lone black driver to win a race in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Sprint Car Series. Bill Lesterâ€™s win is a part of an eventful day in the Rolex racing events which began in 2000.
Bill Lester said that his feat must have brought joy to Wendell Scott and his family. Before participating in the racing event, Bill Lester had spent some time in the Wendell Scott and his familyâ€™s residence in Danville. He also had the opportunity to visit the garage of the Scott family. According to Bill Lester, it was an honor for him to actually sit in one of the racing cars of the legendary Wendell Scott.
The Action Express Racing team led by Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and JC France drove their Porsche/Riley to an overall and Daytona Prototype class victory. The trio broke the winning streak of the reigning series champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas of Chip Ganassi Racing. In the event, Action Express collected the special $25,000 â€œbountyâ€ available to any team breaking the Scott Pruett-Memo Rojas win streak.
Bill Lester and Jordan Taylor co-drove the Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to the win the Rolex Seriesâ€™ class for production-based machines. Apart from Bill Lesterâ€™s milestone, this was Autohaus organizationâ€™s and Jordan Taylorâ€™s first Grand-Am Series win. Bill Lester confessed that he was fortunate enough to help induct Wendell Scott into the National Sports Hall of Fame. He also said that he has been fortunate enough to have been influenced by him. Even though this was a different type of racing event, Bill Lester was proud to absorb the fact that he was able to represent the minorities, basically, across the board.
Bill Lesterâ€™s National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) career started in the Camping World Truck Series, where he made 142 starts from 2000-07. He achieved this feat twice in 2005 and was his best performance till that time. Bill Lester also made one start in the Nationwide Series (1999) and two in the Sprint Cup Series (2006). He has already made 42 starts in NASCARâ€™s Grand-Am Series. Since 1992, he has served as a racing instructor at Infineon Raceway. He now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Cheryl, and their son William Alexander IV (Alex).