Rebuilt, revised and refreshed in the almost three months since putting
in a race-leading performance in Round One of the 2009 Grand-Am
season-opener at the 47th annual Rolex 24, the #77 Doran Racing /
McDonald’s team is in a confident mood heading to Round Two, the
Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16
Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, next weekend.
- Doran Racing is only team in U.S. history to win the 24 Hours at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Watkins Glen Six-Hour race in the same year; in 2009, #77 Doran/McDonald’s Doran-Dallara Ford led the season-opening Rolex 24 before succumbing to the same engine problem that felled six of the seven Ford-powered Daytona Prototypes in the 49-car starting field.
- Round 2, the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, last year provided the setting for one of Doran Racing’s remarkable run of top-10 finishes – a total of eleven over the course of the season, including eight in a row. The team and drivers feel confident of being able to battle for a podium finish this weekend.
- Memo Gidley, the Indy Car/prototype ace who co-drives the #77 Doran McDonald’s Dallara-Ford with Brad Jaeger, has been busy during the layoff between Daytona and VIR: he scored a podium finish in Superkarts Shifter Kart race; spoke to a group of 3rd, 4th and 5th-graders at Lynwood Elementary School during "No Excuses Career Day"; won the Super 800 class in a Jet-Ski competition and tested vintage Grand Prix cars, including a 1956 Maserati 250F driven to victory in the Australian Grand Prix by Sterling Moss.
Lebanon, OH (April 17, 2009) – Rebuilt, revised and refreshed in the almost three months since putting in a race-leading performance in Round One of the 2009 Grand-Am season-opener at the 47th annual Rolex 24, the #77 Doran Racing / McDonald’s team is in a confident mood heading to Round Two, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, next weekend.
The Doran Racing team, sporting new sponsorship from McDonald’s for 2009, opened the season in a promising fashion at Round One, leading the race, and with a top-5 finish in sight after 18 hours of almost trouble-free racing. Ultimately, however, the car succumbed to the same engine ‘gremlins’ that felled six of the seven Ford-powered Daytona Prototypes in the 49-car starting field. The problem in each case was ultimately traced to the failure of a crankshaft position sensor stator wheel in each of the 500 horsepower Ford V-8 engines.
This weekend’s round Two of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season, the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, was actually the fourth race on the schedule in 2008 (including Miami and Mexico City), by which time Doran Racing, then running a 2-car effort, had already scored the beginning of a remarkable string of top-10 finishes — 11 total, eight of them in a row over the course of the season. This year, focusing all their considerable energies on the #77 Doran Racing / McDonald’s Doran-Dallara Ford, the team has completely re-built and refined the car in during the long break, and thoroughly analyzed the VIR setup and engineering data provided by last year’s two-car team. It was a mixed result for the Doran Racing team, with the #47 Doran Racing BSI/CDOD/Anasten Plus Ford Dallara of Burt Frisselle and Gabriel Gardel finishing 8th and the #77 car of Gidley and Jaeger needing to pit for repairs after an off-course incident.
"Both of the Doran Racing cars were fast and running with the lead pack," says Gidley. "Brad qualified our #77 car 7th on the grid and handed it over to me running in the top-10, but I had a little off-course incident that took some time in the pits to repair. We got back out and finished, and were running the same times as the leaders, so we know that we have a good setup for our car at this track. Add to that the fact that both Brad and I know this track really well by now, and the team has completely re-built and done all sorts of tweaks to the car, and I really think we should be able to hit the ground running and battle for a podium finish."
Gidley, a full-season co-driver of the #77 Doran Racing/McDonald’s/Doran-Dallara Ford, is a talented and widely respected American driver who was born in La Paz, Mexico and now makes his home in Novato, California. He has made a name for himself as one of the most committed drivers in the paddock, driving and winning in everything from karts to Indy Cars and stock cars to prototypes. 2009 will mark Gidley’s fifth season in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series DP class, and his third season with Doran Racing.
Brad Jaeger is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and recent graduate of Vanderbilt University where he was a member of their Formula SAE team. His racing resume includes karting, Sports 2000, Skip Barber, F2000, Star Mazda and the Indy Pro Series. He co-drove his first prototype race for the Doran team in the 2007 season finale at Miller Motorsport Park and was Gidley’s full-time co-driver during the 2008 season.
"Its been a long layoff, but I’ve been hitting the gym and going kart racing with Memo to keep the edge sharp, so I’ll be ready to go racing when we get to VIR," says Jaeger. "The team has completely re-built the car since the Rolex 24, so I think we should be able to work through any small issues during the first practice session. We had a really good car for the race here last year, so I’m feeling confident about what we can achieve in the race."
In addition to the kart race both drivers competed in during the long break between Rounds One and Two, Gidley in particular has keeping himself busy. On March 12, he took some time out of a busy week of getting ready for Round One of the SuperKarts USA Kart series to speak to a group of 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-graders as part of career week at his local Lynwood Elementary School "No Excuses Career Day." Three days later, making no excuses, he scored a podium finish in Round One of the Superkarts North series at Infineon Raceway competing in the S3 Shifter Kart division. On March 21, he took his winning ways to an entirely new venue, scoring a victory aboard his Muscle Milk Kawasaki SXR in Round One of the Super 800 class jet ski race at Northern California’s Salt Springs Reservoir.
Then, on April 1 (no fooling), he spent the day powersliding priceless vintage Grand Prix cars around Infineon Raceway, including a 1956 Maserati 250F driven by Stirling Moss to victory in the Austrailian Grand Prix, a 1962 Ferrari GTO, 1957 Maserati 250 Si and a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 Zagato that once lead the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Most of the cars are owned and raced by Tom Price and maintained by Shawn Thomas Automotive, one of Gidley’s karting sponsors.
"When I watch old racing footage I notice these beautiful four wheel drifts from these cars back in their day," said Gidley, whose usual ride is the 2009 #77 Doran Racing/McDonald’s/Doran-Dallara Ford, a Doran chassis fitted with Dallara bodywork, enhanced aerodynamics and a 500 horsepower Roush-Yates Ford V-8 engine. "And then when I drove them, I got to experience that. In modern race cars, by design it is usually one end or the other that slides so having these big four wheel drifts was really fun and I hope to do it again soon!"
Round 2 of the 2009 Rolex Series, the Bosch Engineering 250, takes place April 24-25 at Virginia International Raceway, the challenging 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course located in Alton, VA. On-track activity begins Friday, April 24 with several practice sessions and the Grand-Am series’ unique 15-minute qualifying session from 3:45 – 4:00 pm. The 250-mile — 2 3/4-hour Bosch Engineering 250 for the Rolex Series presented by Crown royal Cask No. 16 is scheduled to take the green flag at 2:30 pm (ET), Saturday, April 25. The race will air live on the SPEED Channel.