Team Sahlen enters this year’s 2011 ROLEX 24 Hours at Daytona with a full on assault to march to the front of the GT field. Not just another simple racing event, this twice around the clock event calls for intense preparations to be ready. And for Team Sahlen, these preparations started as soon as the 2010 season ended. Immediately following the season, Team Sahlen tested on 3 different occasions at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This was then followed by the Grand American sanctioned test at Virginia International Raceway.
After a short break, Team Sahlen then returned after Thanksgiving to the last 2010 Grand Am Test that was held at Homestead International Speedway. Then at the start of the new year, Team Sahlen attended the “Roar before the 24” test at Daytona International Speedway. All of this testing has kept the crew at Team Sahlen hopping. But despite all this extra effort, spirits within the team are high. And as well they should be as these efforts have led to Team Sahlen being at the sharp end of the Mazda contingency in the GT time charts.
Not only has the crew been very busy working to prep the SpeedSource built RX-8s, but several other divisions of the team have been putting in extra hours. The Engineering Team led by Catherine Crawford Wallace has been focusing on ways to maximize the potential performance of the SpeedSource built Mazda RX-8 on track. The Graphics Department has been putting in extra time, coming out with a new paint scheme and design on the Team Sahlen Mazdas. This led to rave reviews from fans and competitors alike at the “Roar before the 24”. In carrying this look forward, the new look also transferred to a new Vinyl Wrap of the Trailer. Additionally, the graphics team has redesigned the Fan Card Stands, Team Flags and many other small details. And no crew can be successful without a full stomach, and feeding 50+ individuals for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner will mean over 600 meals will be served during the weekend. Beyond planning meals, the Team Sahlen Catering division has been busy making enhancements to the look of the Hospitality area by purchasing new supplies and decorations.
For this year’s event, Team Sahlen will again be entering 2 Mazdas in the GT class, #42 & #43. Both of these RX-8s will also be contesting the full 2011 ROLEX season. Drivers for Team Sahlen will be Memo Gidley, Joe Sahlen, and Joe, Wayne & Will Nonnamaker. Over the years, Team Sahlen has captured a series of Top 10 in class results through the years (2010: 7th, 2006: 9th, 2005: 9th, 2004: 4th).
Lead Driver Memo Gidley shares his thoughts – “I’m excited for the 24 and Team Sahlen. Getting ready for the 24 really started for us at the VIR test at the end of last season. Team Sahlen has really started to come together and the hard work and initiative that the team has shown over the last few months to be a contender has been awesome. The 24 is such a grueling race and really the ultimate gauge on Team readiness. I know the team over the next couple of weeks is going over everything on the car with a fine tooth comb to try to eliminate any potential problems. For me, the next couple of weeks will be pushing myself as hard as possible in my training programs to try to make the race as easy as possible. But no matter how much preparation we all do, this race is never easy! I can’t wait for the challenge.”
Team Sahlen Leader in All-Time Starts Will Nonnamaker is excited as he has ever been for the 24 Hours – “Even before I started driving, this is the one event I have always wanted to be a part of. This marks my 8th start in the event. And I can firmly say that this is the best position we have ever been in leading up to the race. Everything seems to be really coming together. Our Driver line-up is super strong, the Mazda is a great car, and all divisions of the team are operating like a fine oiled machine. The competition is really tough this year, but we hope to be one of those fighting it out at the sharp end of the field.”
The ROLEX 24 Hours will start at 3:30 pm on Saturday January 29th. Team Sahlen will be entering 2 Mazdas in the event against a full field of 30+ GT competitors. The race will be televised on SPEED TV, with 14 hours of Live coverage.