Virginia International Raceway represents one of 4 courses that Team Sahlen tested at, after the 2010 race season was concluded. The test, that was held in October of 2010, was a 2 day test. At this test, Team Sahlen tested all three SpeedSource Built Mazda RX-8s; #42, #43 & #49. And additionally, all 5 Team Sahlen drivers, Joe Sahlen, Memo Gidley, Joe Nonnamaker, Wayne Nonnamaker & Will Nonnamaker, were present at this test, taking full advantage of the extensive track time. So for this weekend’s ROLEX event at Virginia International Raceway, Team Sahlen should be extra prepared to take on the competition.
The whole crew at Team Sahlen has been very busy, shares Team Manager Jay Chapman “It has been quite a monumental effort to get the #43 back together. The crew had to strip the chassis bear. Then it was shipped down to Riley in North Carolina. Once it came back, everything had to be reassembled back on to make it a whole race car again. But it is all completed, and the car is as good as new.”
With #43 being repaired, Team Sahlen will once again be entering 3 Mazda RX-8s in the race. Driving #42 will be Wayne Nonnamaker and Memo Gidley. For #43, Joe Nonnamaker will start the race, and Wayne Nonnamaker will hop in to finish. In the “Soccer Ball” #49 Mazda, Joe Sahlen and Will Nonnamaker will be teamed up.
To further assist in Team Sahlen pushing to get to the front of the ROLEX GT pack, the Mazda RX-8s have went through several extensive diagnostic tests since the Barber Motorsports Park event to look for that extra edge on track.
Catherine Crawford Wallace, whose family’s Crawford Composites considers Virginia to be their home track added -“VIR is one of my all-time favourite tracks, with the esses, downhill back straight, and oak tree, you get a taste of everything. It is also the only track I have ever experienced in an actual race-car. The Crawford Factory is just down the road so we consider it our home track, using it every chance we get for shakedowns and tests. We had a good test here last year and with the improvements we have made leading up to this part of the season I really hope we can make a good showing as I know all the Crawford family and friends will make the trip to support Team Sahlen for my first VIR race with the team.”
Team Sahlen also is working hard to raise their game in overall paddock presentation to the fan. For 2011, Team Sahlen had already stepped their game up, with a full vinyl wrap of their Tractor Trailer. This was then followed up with the subtle inclusion of new Team Sahlen Flags, and tall 14 foot tall pennant flags. And for the Virginia weekend, Team Sahlen will be unveiling their new vinyl wrap on their support Trailer rig. “It is very exciting to have both rigs now displaying the Team Sahlen livery. Grand American is certainly reaching new heights for their fans, and we are proud to be a part of that positive direction.” States Will Nonnamaker, Team Sporting Director.
“We are very excited about coming to VIR. It is such an exciting track with so many different nuances to each part of the track. There is nowhere else in North America like Oak Tree, where you can come out of a corner, and you can literally reach out and grab a leaf off the tree.” – shared Wayne Nonnamaker
Memo Gidley further iterated – “I am really excited to get on VIR. It is a great track with a lot of character especially the high speed esses which are awesome to drive. We also get a great crowd which always makes the weekend fun. I am also excited to see how the #42 Sahlen’s Mazda RX8 performs there. We have been making lots of improvements and changes that really seem to be taking us in the right direction. It would be great to get our first podium and I we are absolutely in a position to be able to do that.”
The Virginia International Raceway ROLEX race will air on May 14th at 5 pm est. on SPEED TV.