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As the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards heads to the Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem (Ind.) Speedway fueled by the Hoosier Lottery this weekend, driver Josh Williams and his family-owned team bring new support.
Williams currently ranked second in the championship standings after three races will have local support from Greenfield, Indiana’s Fields Auto Parts, as well as backing from longtime supporter, Southwest Florida Cable Construction.
With a huge cheering section expected for William’s return to one of his favorite tracks, the veteran ARCA driver is hoping to finally seal the deal and score his first career victory.
“Everyone at Josh Williams Motorsports is appreciative of the support from Field’s Auto Parts,” Williams said. “With their continued devotion to the local community, as well as a welcoming atmosphere to others, their model is much like everyone at Josh Williams Motorsports, treat everyone as family.
“Salem is such a great racetrack where the track’s unique characteristics puts the race more in the drivers’ hand more than anything. Track position can be crucial too, so we’ve been working hard on our No. 6 Field’s Auto Parts Ford Fusion hoping to unload with a nearly perfect setup.”
In six starts at the Southern Indiana short track, Williams has maneuvered four top-10 finishes including two straight runs, with a best performance of sixth three times, including both races last year.
“We seem to be set on sixth right now,” joked Williams talking about his best finish. “I finished sixth in my debut in 2011 and both races last year, we took sixth. We’ve never been able to start inside the top-10, so maybe we if we can do that Saturday afternoon, we might have a better shot at a better finish for race day.
“Grant (Enfinger, point’s leader) is off to an unbelievable start this season with three straight wins, so it’s our job, as well as the rest of the field to stop him. It’s going to be hard, because he’ll be fast, but this is Salem, where first time winners are often bred, so hopefully we can put our No. 6 Field’s Auto Parts / Southwest Florida Cable Construction Ford Fusion in contention.”
Williams, 21 has 64 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards starts to his credit. During his six year engagement in the series, he has posted three top-fives and 25 top-10 finishes, including a career-best runner-up finish twice, most recently at Kansas Speedway last October. He has completed over 7,900 laps on the tour.
Entering Salem this weekend, Williams occupies second in the standings, 120 points from leader Grant Enfinger who has won every ARCA race this season.
In addition to Field’s Auto Parts and Southwest Florida Cable Construction, JWM has also support from Sundog Eyewear and Racin’ Nation.
The Federated Auto Parts 200 is set for Sunday, April 26 with live coverage on the ARCA Radio Network starting at 2:00 p.m. local. All times are Eastern.
For more information on Josh Williams, his Josh Williams Motorsports team and sponsorship opportunities for the 2015 season please connect to the team’s official website at Joshwracing.com.
Follow and connect with Josh Williams on Twitter by following @Josh6Williams.
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Thanks to a collaborative effort between VMS, Menards, Tide, 101 Ranch Records and Richmond Water Heaters, the team will now field both drivers in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 on May 1 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Jones will pilot the No. 25 Tide-Menards Toyota, while Kimmel will slide behind the wheel of the No. 15 101 Ranch Records-Menards Toyota. Jones will be debuting the bright orange Tide colors, a relationship he will carry on to the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21. Additionally, VMS will field the No. 55 JEGS Toyota driven by Joe Gibbs Racing development driver, Cody Coughlin giving the team a solid three-car effort in an event where teammates can make or break your chances to visit victory lane.
“Over the years, Frank has been one of our biggest rivals,” team co-owner Billy Venturini said. “We've raced him hard for race wins and championships, so it was a pleasant surprise when we were able to put this deal together at the beginning of the season. But we knew the way the deal was, we'd only have Frank for ten races. At Talladega, we have two young drivers in Brandon Jones and Cody Coughlin, and neither of them have a lot of drafting experience. We really pride ourselves in helping drivers develop the skills they need to go win races in an XFINITY or Cup car, which is why we worked so hard on this deal to get Frank on track at Talladega. It will be great to have his leadership to help our two young drivers in the draft, and he'll have a great chance to get his third win at Talladega. Huge thanks to Menards, Richmond Water Heaters and 101 Ranch Records for jumping on board and making this happen.”
“I really want to thank Billy and all the sponsors for putting this deal together and giving me another race in one of the Venturini cars,” Kimmel said. “As a team, Venturini Motorsports had really fast cars at Daytona. Cody ran really strong, and although Brandon wasn't in that race, Daniel Suarez was and we all had a shot to win. I think Brandon and Cody are both great young men and I can't wait to get out there and work with them.
“Sometimes when you have a multi-car team you work extra hard to beat your teammates at the expense of beating everyone else. We're going to make sure we don't do that. We want to work together and get up front and then we'll settle it among ourselves on the last lap.”
Menards is happy to extend its relationship with the Tide brand, a partnership that has seen the familiar orange and blue colors on many of the Eau Claire, Wis.-based retailer's racecars over the years.
“Menards is excited to see both Frank Kimmel and Brandon Jones on the same track competing under the Menards name at Talladega. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Tide, Brandon Jones and Venturini Motorsports for the Talladega ARCA race.” said Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesman. “We have a longstanding relationship with Tide and are excited that they are involved with us at this great event.”
The No. 25 Ansell-Menards Toyota has finished among the top five in all three ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events in 2015. Kimmel started the season with a fifth-place run at Daytona while Jones scored a runner-up finish at Mobile and followed it with a fourth-place run in the series' most recent event at Nashville. Jones will look to continue his top-five streak in this weekend's Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem Speedway.
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 is slated for 6 P.M. Eastern on Friday May 1. The race is slated to be televised live flag-to-flag on Fox Sports 1.
Danville, Virginia native, Timothy Peters avoided a spinning Lee Pulliam on the final lap of the green-white-checkered finish to claim his first win in the charity race at his home track.
Peters started second to Pulliam on Lap 208 and the two raced side-by-side for the lead at the white flag.
Josh Berry, who was third at the time, made contact with Pulliam going in to the final turn sending Pulliam around. Peters was able to stay high and finish just ahead of runner-up William Byron.
Mark Wertz, who started on the final row, finished third with Tommy Lemons Jr. and Tyler Ankrum rounding out the top five.
Austin Thaxton, Dalton Sargeant, Kaz Grala, Brenden Queen and Pulliam completed the top 10.
Berry was penalized for aggressive driving and finished 17 and was the last car running on the final lap.
Denny Hamlin started in the top 10 but had his night end early, after suffering a valve train problem that sent him to the garage on Lap 69.
Last year’s winner Matt Bowling, was running second before electrical problems forced him to the back of the field where he finished 12.
Defending NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott ran in the top-10 most of the night, but motor issues ended his night on Lap 192.
The race was slowed by 10 cautions and two red flags.
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Carlos de Quesada and his son Michael will race together this season in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin for Alegra Motorsports. Michael de Quesada, 16, will make his debut in the series in a Gold Cup car, while his father will remain in the Platinum Masters class. All classes in the series are on track simultaneously.
The elder de Quesada has proved his racecraft for the last three years in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned Single-Make Series. Now it's his son's turn to get a chance behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
"I do have experience racing, and I've attended a few racing schools," Michael de Quesada said. "I've competed in karting since I was 12. I also went to the Bob Bondurant racing school out in Arizona. Recently I did a F2000 race at Road Atlanta. It went really well. I finished 12th and 18th in Race One and the second race. I also raced a Miata at West Palm Beach."
Michael de Quesada's learning curve could be flatter than the typical 16-year-old rookie in the series. He has observed and watched the successful Alegra team - owned by his father - and understands what it takes to win. The younger de Quesada sees his father, who was 2013 Gold Cup champion and 2014 Platinum Masters runner-up, as a measuring stick.
"I might not beat him right away," de Quesada said. "We'll see. I'll have some work to do. I've never been in the car before, so I have a lot to learn. I might be able to take him in a turn, though."
The fun family rivalry will heat up once the 2015 season starts on Victoria Day Weekend, May 15-17, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Until then, de Quesada continues to study and prepare.
"Before the first race, I'm going to go out to Sebring for testing," de Quesada said. "So we'll see how it goes there. It will be my first time in a Porsche and first time at Sebring. I've watched my dad race a lot at that track. I've also worked with JF Dumoulin, Darren Law and Jan Heylen. I've had them out testing with me."
With all the preparations for the big first race at CTMP, de Quesada is getting more and more excited to be a part of Alegra Motorsports. It is the team he knows. It is the team he has grown up with. Best of all, there is something special about the Porsche he is racing.
"I'll be driving Spencer's (Pigot) car from two years ago," de Quesada said. "So that was my Dad's car from three years ago. I'm excited. I'm taking this matte purple scheme from my Miata. My car will be gold, purple and black. It'll be different than the rest of the team. It's new, exciting and cool."
Driving a race-winning car may create some high expectations for de Quesada in his rookie season. But he is confident for success due to the experienced, skilled Alegra team and his father's support.
"He's definitely inspired me because his parents didn't want him to race," de Quesada said of his father. "Just seeing how hard he's worked to do all that he has. I know how hard he's worked. Going to the tracks with him, the 24-hour races are insane races. I watched him race at Daytona, I watched him win there. My dad has, for sure, been an inspiration."
The biggest challenge now for de Quesada is adjusting to driving a Porsche and adapting to the intensity of the series. Those lessons will take time. But de Quesada still can't wait to get started, to fulfill a dream of racing with his father and possibly begin a career path as a professional driver.
"My goal is to learn as much as I can," de Quesada said. "We'll see how I do. I don't want to jinx it. I'd love to be in a GT car or prototype if I was given the opportunity. I'll go wherever the opportunity is."
Former Ice Capades Skater Dina Parise To Compete In New Cadillac Pro Mod At April 24-25 IHRA Nitro Jam Palm Beach NationalsWritten by Adam Sinclair Wednesday, 22 April 2015 21:14
Crower Pro Mod, with its origins in IHRA’s Top Sportsman class, was born in the early 1990s and made a triumphant return to Nitro Jam national events last week as a pro-category class.
Dina Parise – a former Ice Capades skater – will compete in something completely different at Palm Beach: a brand-new Cadillac Pro Mod.
“I grew up on Long Island, New York, and from an early age I wanted to mix it up with the boys,” Parise began. “I wanted to play hockey and my mother said, ‘No, not gonna happen.’ I always seemed to be the girl who liked all the boys’ sports. I also was a gymnast, so we decided figure skating was a better way to go.”
Parise’s love for competing on skates eventually led her to the big show.
“I was competitive from age eight through my early 20s,” Parise explained. “I had a friend who told me the Ice Capades was holding auditions and suggested I try out. I had to lie about my height on my application form. They wanted you to be at least five-feet-five inches and I am barely five-one. It happened pretty quickly. They let you know if you passed or failed that night. I passed and was chosen to go on tour. My first tour was their 50th anniversary tour and it lasted eight months.
“You undergo some off-ice training with choreography. You have to remember a lot of steps and counts. There’s a lot to it. I did four tours (years) with them, as a line skater and ensemble skater. We traveled all over the United States and Canada.”
After four years on the road with the Ice Capades and also skating in other shows during the off-season, Parise decided to hang up her blades.
“I had been a hairdresser for years before I went on tour, so I thought, ‘Let’s go back to that and see where things go.’ “
In the meantime, Dina’s husband Andrew got involved in cars.
“About 10 years ago, Andrew built a 1967 Camaro. At first he was going to show it, then it went from a show car to a race car with a full tub and roll cage. He drove that car for about a year or so and I just fell in love with the sport of drag racing. I had seen it on TV but I had never been to a drag race. The following year, he decided he was going to build a Pro Mod from the ’67 Camaro. I said, ‘Well, I’d like to drive the ’67,’ so I went to the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School and earned my Super Gas license. I competed in that Camaro for a couple of years. Later, I was looking to step up to a higher class. My husband bought me a ’67 Camaro body. He was thinking Top Sportsman, but I said, ‘I kinda wanna go Pro Mod.’ After I picked him up off the ground we got our marketing partners together and they were able to help us.”
Parise’s decision to try Pro Mod racing was an easy one.
“To me, Pro Mod is one of the best classes,” admitted Parise. “I’ve said it a million times, we can’t thank IHRA enough for bringing the class back. We’ve worked with Scotty Cannon, Carl Spiering – guys who were in the midst of things when it was really happening back in the ‘90s. I love the fact that there are so many body styles and that the fans can relate to the cars. No disrespect to anyone but they’re not cookie-cutter and that’s the best part about it.”
Which leads us to Parise’s unlikely choice of car: a Cadillac, something always considered too elegant – and too big – to race. That was then, this is now. The luxury car brand has been heavily involved in road racing and has won several sports car championships.
“One day Rob Matheis of Rob Matheis Race Cars Inc. rang our phone and offered something a little different. Early last year, Rob approached us and said, ‘I have a Cadillac body and it seems like it would suit you.’ We weren’t in the market for a new car, but we were able to work things out where we could get the car built. We’ve taken it out testing and I made some changes. We’re going to run the Nitro Jam series and Bradenton will be our first race.”
Looking back, Dina believes her stint in show business is similar to what she does now in drag racing.
“We were in shows at a different venue every week,” she said. “Now we race at a different track every week. We used to do pre-show public relations – radio, TV, talk shows. It’s the same thing in racing. I tell everyone, ‘I traded my sequins for a fire suit.’
Be sure to tune in for a special episode of Speedway Digest's Thursday Night Thunder, featuring some of the stars of the IHRA Nitro Jam Series, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Just go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/speedwaydigestradio/2015/04/24/thursday-night-thunder-with-adam-Sinclair. Also, please don't hesitate to check the Speedway Digest Thursday Night Thunder facebook page at www.facebook.com/sdthursdaynightthunder.
Practice and qualifying will take place on Friday, June 19, followed by championship rounds on both Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21. Each round will pay out points to the driver for the season-long championship.
“We’re excited to be able to add another championship round to the weekend schedule and grow this event,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “The inaugural Red Bull Global Rallycross in 2014 produced non-stop action on the course. To be able to add a second championship round for the 2015 event gives race fans another opportunity to see how exciting this form of racing can be.”
Red Bull Global Rallycross is returning to Daytona International Speedway for the second straight year. On Father’s Day Weekend, the stars of Red Global Rallycross will slide, bang and fly in manufacturer-backed entries such as Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen on portions of Daytona’s famed road course asphalt and a challenging dirt section. Red Bull Global Rallycross Supercars produce 600 horsepower and accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than two seconds.
Entering its fifth year, Red Bull Global Rallycross competes across the world in locations like Barbados, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Among the motorsports and action sports athletes that compete in Red Bull Global Rallycross are Ken Block, Bucky Lasek, Scott Speed, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Tanner Foust.
Red Bull Global Rallycross features an open paddock where fans are able to walk through the garages, engage the drivers and watch the mechanics wrench on the cars.
A three-day adult advance ticket for the Red Bull Global Rallycross is available for $60, a savings of $30. Daily admission tickets are available at the gate for adults ($20 on Friday and $35 on Saturday and Sunday) and children ages 6-12 ($10 daily). A three-day children’s ticket (ages 6-12) is available for $15 and children 5 and under are free for the entire weekend.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP1-800-PITSHOP FREE. For more information on Red Bull Global Rallycross, please visit www.redbullglobalrallycross.com.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.
Creel travels from his hometown of Mexico City to compete and test with his team, Wright Motorsports. Occasionally he travels even further north to compete in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series.
A chance introduction through a friend led Creel to John Wright, team principal of Wright Motorsports, and to the U.S. racing series.
"I met John through a friend from Scotland," Creel said. "It's a weird connection, but that's why I am here right now. My first race with him was in 2013 at Road America with my Mexican GT3 car, and I loved it."
Creel won Round 10 of the 2013 season in the Gold Cup class in his Wright debut at Road America.
"After that, I decided to come back in 2014 to do the whole season," Creel said. "That made Road America my favorite track. It was the first track I had ever been to in the U.S. and where I got my first win."
Creel climbed to the Platinum Cup class in the 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season, ending with eight top-10 finishes. In the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series, he finished third overall in his series debut at Toronto.
Some of Creel's success may be credited to his pairing with Ohio-based Wright Motorsports. Wright is the most successful team in recent Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama history, winning 18 Platinum Cup races over the last three seasons.
Creel's talent also is a considerable factor. He has become known for his skilled driving in wet conditions.
"I kept doing well racing in the rain," Creel said. "I won the race at Road America in the rain. I like the handling of the Porsche when racing in the rain. I know it is pretty dangerous racing in the rain because sometimes you don't have all of the control.
"The Yokohama rain tires are great and handle extremely well. The tires take most of the power, and the car really goes."
Creel had never dedicated himself to a single form of racing before his first full season with Wright Motorsports last year. He tried his hand at multiple types, even a few that don't include an engine.
"I don't have a lot of racing background," Creel said. "Five years ago, I started racing cars, and in 2012 I did one year of Porsche racing in Mexico. It was in a Cup car series similar to PCA (Porsche Club of America). I raced motorcycles before; I did race motocross then switched to motorcycles.
"I like to race and compete, even if it is in a motorcycle or car. I just love being competitive. I am competitive in running. I do triathlons, half-marathons, marathons. You name it; I do it."
The passion for competition keeps Creel, a tax lawyer, coming back for more in the U.S. and Canada. The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car also has kept his interest.
"Well, all the series are good," Creel. "All of the pilots are really good, nice guys, the tracks are really nice, and there is great competition. The German car and its design is great. I think it is one of the best race cars ever to have been made."
Creel is working on finding more speed this year, searching for top-five finishes. He's off to a good start, with a fourth-place result in wet conditions - his favorite - earlier this month in Round 3 at NOLA Motorsports Park.
"My ultimate goal is to run the 24 Hours of Le Mans," Creel said. "I'd like to do all the endurance races like Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. This may happen in a couple of years, no more than five years from now. I'm working on getting up to pace and becoming more consistent. Then after that, maybe go to the long races."
Back in February, FDTC announced a partnership with former NASCAR XFINITY Series driver, Hal Goodson. On March 7 at Dillon Motor Speedway, Goodson drove to a ninth place finish in the South Carolina Clash 125. This weekend, he’ll be competing in the first point race of the 2015 Pee Dee Coastal Super Truck Series season.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the Pee Dee Coastal Super Truck Series season underway,” Hal Goodson said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get the win for Florence-Darlington Technical College. My driving style really favors Myrtle Beach Speedway, and my team and I have had a lot of success at the speedway over the years. The 2015 season is going to be a lot of fun.”
Hayes Goodson, a 20-year old studying Political Science at Francis Marion University will make his second start in the PASS Super Late Model this weekend at Myrtle Beach Speedway. In previous seasons, Hayes has driven in Pee Dee Coastal Super Truck Series and the PASS Pro Late Models. Hayes has earned multiple wins at Dillon Motor Speedway between the Street Stock division and the Pee Dee Coastal Super Truck Series.
“This weekend will be my second start in the PASS Super Late Model,” Hayes Goodson said. “I’ve competed in the PASS Pro Late Model in recent years. I’m really eager to hit the track and compete for the win. My dad finished ninth at Dillon Motor Speedway, so we know the car is fast.”
The Goodson name is synonymous with Myrtle Beach Speedway. Hal Goodson competed in several NASCAR XFINITY Series events at the speedway, earning a personal track high finish of 18th back in 1991. Since then, Goodson continued the success by winning a number of races throughout the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series, Hooters Pro Cup Series and local divisions at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
“I grew up watching Hal race in the Hooters Pro Cup Series at Myrtle Beach Speedway,” FDTC Public Relations/Marketing Specialist, Hunter Thomas said. “If anyone can get the job done on Saturday night, it’s definitely Hal and Hayes. They just really understand the track and can get around it faster than anyone else.”
Racing will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Johnny Parsons Jr., the son of 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner Johnnie Parsons, earned great success in his own right with 12 Indianapolis 500 starts and best finishes of fifth in 1977 and 1985. He is a highly decorated sprint and midget driver and was voted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1994.
Hamilton, renowned for his mastery of super-modified racing, competed in 11 Indianapolis 500s with three top-10 finishes including a fourth place. He finished in the runner-up spot twice in the Indy car season championship and in 2014 raced in Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck Series. Hamilton is a leader both on and off the track. He was recently appointed USAC executive director of racing and previously was founder of the “King of the Wing” sprint car series. He has been active as an Indy car owner and plans to field an entry in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
A five-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, Kite first qualified for the big show in 1998. He made his name driving midgets and sprint cars and really got the attention of the motorsports world in 1997 by winning one of short track racing’s biggest trophies – the USAC Silver Crown Copper World Classic. In addition to his 34 starts in Indy car competition Kite has also ventured into ARCA stock car and NASCAR truck racing. Jimmy continues his focus on sprint cars and works with Dodge on their SRT program.
“I raced at places like Weedsport, Rolling Wheels and Canadaigua speedway, all dirt, as a young man,” says SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “Short track racers have a special place in my heart. Johnny, Davey and Jimmy have amazing car control and are fun to watch.”
Like last year, the SVRA, America’s premier vintage racing organization, is presenting the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am for veterans of the Indianapolis 500. It is a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Saturday, June 13. All the veterans will be in 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. Professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion.
The Indy Legends Pro-Am is the crowning event of the Brickyard Invitational but there is literally a festival of other activities. Like last year, the storied 2.5-mile oval will be utilized with exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.” The 2015 weekend not only promises a huge gathering of race cars but also some of the finest collector cars. Motostalgia, with offices in Austin, Mexico City and Monaco will stage a June 12 auction of select automobiles from around the world. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for organizations and clubs united by special marques and vintages.
The SVRA has 11 groups of race cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be at IMS. The array of entries include select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2009. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action with overnight camping inside IMS. Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a Fan Walk through the starting grid prior to the opening ceremonies allowing fans to see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. All entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.
Lites 2 championship leader Slusher will team up with two-time reigning Lites 2 champion Brian Alder in Alder's BAR 1 Motorsports Prototype Challenge entry in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda on May 1-3.
Reigning Lites 1 Masters champion and current Masters point leader Falb will join Slusher in the No. 16 BAR 1 PC entry at the picturesque track near Monterey, California.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Slusher said. "It's one of those things you dream about, never knowing if it could all come together. To have it actually become a reality now is very exciting."
Slusher and Falb's opportunity to take the next step into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship arose during a conversation between Slusher and Alder during a recent Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda race weekend. Alder mentioned he was able to run a second PC car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and Slusher and Falb had space in their racing schedule since the next Prototype Lites event is June 25-27 at Watkins Glen.
Las Vegas housing developer Slusher had previously reached out to former Lites 2 competitor and current Performance Tech Motorsports PC endurance driver Jerome Mee while competing at Petit Le Mans last year. Mee made the jump from L2 to PC at that race and encouraged Slusher to try the bigger, more powerful car.
With the approval of IMSA, Slusher and Falb's deal was set with Alder's team.
"This will be the first time either of us have raced in a PC car," Slusher said. "Prior to the race we'll have a full day of practice (at Mazda Raceway) to get ourselves acclimated. After thinking about some things Jerome Mee had said, it seemed like a good time to make a change and go for it."
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca also is familiar to both Slusher and Falb, as each driver has previously challenged the 2.238-mile circuit - featuring the famous "Corkscrew" turn complex - in other classes of racing. But to help recall and conquer the nuances of the track, they will have 2013 Prototype Lites Champion Sean Rayhall as their driver coach.
Rayhall won both Prototype Lites races in 2013 at Mazda Raceway and finished second in the PC class last year at the track.
"I've been to Laguna Seca once, and I think John has been twice," Slusher said. "Being from the West Coast, this track is kind of like a mecca. It's like how in golf everyone wants to play at Pebble Beach; on the West Coast, we all want to race at Laguna Seca. So this was really the perfect time to try the PC car.
"We'll have our driver coach, Sean Rayhall, there to help us get up to speed, and we'll have the support of Brian's team. They're all really great guys.
"The exposure from racing against some of the PC guys last year I think will also help us out. That's part of the attraction of racing in PC is being out on track with the professionals. Hopefully we can learn something and do a good job - if anything, do a good job of imitating them."
The Monterey Grand Prix is not part of the Tequila Patròn North American Endurance Cup. But the two-hour, 40-minute race length could feel like an endurance race compared to the 30- and 45-minute sprints in Prototype Lites.
But Slusher has a few races under his belt that make him stand out from his fellow Prototype Lites competitors and have prepared him for longer events. Late last year, Slusher competed in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance classic for the third time. Falb also raced in the event at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California.
Thunderhill featured 65 cars of varying power and speeds in a 25-hour event. That provided Slusher and Falb with plenty of experience of navigating faster and slower traffic in a race setting.
"Being on track with faster cars like prototypes can be intimidating," Slusher said. "But in this instance, not as intimidating as it could be. We've done endurance races where we've been the faster car on track, so we're experienced in traffic. Sometimes when guys come on track that have fresher tires, they might overtake you, so we have experience there, too."
But Slusher thinks his extensive seat time in a Lites 2 car will prove most valuable in his first foray in the TUDOR Championship. He started his rookie season in 2014 in a Lites 1 car with ONE Motorsports but moved to Lites 2 midway through the season.
"Last year I switched to L2 so I could improve my racecraft," Slusher said. "In an L2, I negotiate with many cars on track. It's about where you are in comparison to the people around you. I would say it's as much of a mental craft as it is skillful.
"I usually say I'm not racing the teenagers upfront. I'm still racing, but I'm not necessarily out to make a "racing" name for myself. I've been able to work on my craft without racing in the front of the pack with those guys, its allowed me to race where I feel comfortable and I really enjoy working against cars that have a little more power. It's really given me confidence."
ONE Motorsports has played a major role in building Slusher's confidence behind the wheel. Paired with motorsports veteran Jeff Shafer, ONE Motorsports has become a major player in Prototype Lites after just one season.
Falb won the Lites 1 Masters championship for the team in 2014. He leads the standings by two points over Joel Janco after four rounds this season.
Slusher finished second to Alder in Lites 2 last season despite racing only eight rounds in the class. Slusher leads Alder - his boss for the Laguna Seca weekend - by 12 points this season in Lites 2.
"It's a lot of fun," Slusher said. "Jeff has a ton of experience and background in the sport. We were able to compile the right guys who know what they're doing. Safety going into this is obviously a concern, but Jeff knew what he was doing and promised we'd have all the right resources.
"To have the success we have experienced, we can say we really pulled it off. It's exciting. It's fun to go home and tell everyone stories from the weekend. They're always surprised and impressed like, 'You did what this weekend?'"
Slusher and Falb's PC debut at Mazda Raceway will be televised live from 4-7 p.m. (ET) Sunday, May 3. Qualifying will be streamed live on imsa.com from 7:15-8:45 p.m. (ET) Saturday, May 2, with live timing at scoring.imsa.com. For updates on the race, follow @IMSALive on Twitter. For updates from the team, follow @OneMotorsports on Twitter.
The next Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda race weekend will be June 25-27 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. The race weekend features the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen Tequila Patròn North American Endurance Cup race.