Team Sahlen unveiled their new paint scheme at the “Roar before the 24” at Daytona International Speedway. Although the new look still retained the lightning bolt theme, the Mazdas were strikingly different from anything seen on a Team Sahlen racer before.
And fans, officials and fellow racers reacted in unison: “They Liked It”. Even the Grand American web site featured the new Team Sahlen paint scheme in their post test reviews: http://www.grand-am.com/news/index.cfm?series=r&cid=40884
Team Sahlen paint scheme guru Will Nonnamaker shared his amazement – “I couldn’t believe the positive reaction we received to the new paint scheme. I had been working with our Michelle, our graphic designer, on the design of the new paint scheme for over a year now. But there is a big difference between looking at something on paper or in a the,,,and seeing it going 100+ mph on the track. And the hear everyone so positively react to the new look is really satisfying. This means that we will be adding some real pizzazz to the ROLEX grid, which is great for the fans.”
Once at the track, Team Sahlen quickly turned their focus from the new look to getting down to business on working on race set up for the grueling twice around the clock event. A race set up for such an event is unique because not only does the car need to be set up to handle different track conditions of night & day, but there is also the aspect of multiple drivers to assimilate. And in Team Sahlen’s case, that will be a total of 5 drivers that will include Memo Gidley, Joe Sahlen, Joe, Wayne & Will Nonnamaker.
Lead driver Memo Gidley felt the test went very well for Team Sahlen – “I’m really satisfied with everything Team Sahlen accomplished at the Roar before the 24. We ended up trying a number of different changes to our Mazda RX8 and came away from the test with a really consistent package for the race in a few weeks. We also got all of our drivers in the car to experience how the #42 car feels and all of my teammates really liked how the car drove. And speaking of driving the RX8, man this is a fun car to drive. I have a smile on my face whenever I’m doing laps in it. So now for the next few weeks, it all comes down to preparation and hopefully a little luck for the race. I’m really excited to see what all of us at Team Sahlen can do during the 24.”
Team patron Joe Sahlen was very satisfied with the test – “The team is now a full year into running the SpeedSource built RX-8. We learned a lot in the 1st year with Mazda, and we made a lot of progress this past fall from our intensive testing schedule. This weekend we were able to be on the cutting edge of fastest Mazda lap times in the GT class. I personally was able to get in a lot of quality laps. The set up we have on the Team Sahlen racers is very comfortable to drive, at a pace that can be duplicated lap after lap after lap.”
Team Manager Jay Chapman walked away from the test being very satisfied but looking for more – “Everyone on the team came into the weekend knowing their roles, and the whole crew performed very well. But to get to the front of the GT field will require we all work extra hard at the track to ensure our tasks are being performed efficiently and without error. Because everyone else at the front of the GT field will be doing the same thing as well.”
The ROLEX 24 Hours will be on the last weekend in January. Team Sahlen will be entering 2 Mazdas in the event against a full field of 30+ GT competitiors. The race will be televised live on SPEED TV.