Monday, May 16
Adam Sinclair

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 

Yount Motorsports is conspicuous in many ways in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda paddock at tracks across North America.

 A dual-wheel pickup truck pulls a white box trailer that carries the team's car to each race, a minnow in an asphalt sea of colorful 18-wheel tractor-trailer transporters rival teams use to haul their race machines. 

The single-car team runs a budget smaller than probably all of its competitors in theInternational Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Development Series. And team owner-driver Don Yount is one of the few drivers in the series who can be found in his pit morning, noon and night, unloading his trailer, changing wheels or doing whatever it takes. 

But perhaps the most notable trait of Yount Motorsports is something that isn't carried in a truck or bolted to a chassis. 

"I think the big thing is we get approached every race at the paddock, someone comes up to our team and says, 'You guys do it the right way,' Yount said. "What they mean is that you guys are having fun. We've got smiles on our face. We're laughing. 

"We're having a good time, but at the same time we're there to be competitive, we're there to win, we're there to be serious when the time comes. We're out there to be 100 percent, but we show up, and it's fun." 

Yount, from Dallas, has flourished this season in his first full year in the series after running part-time from 2009 through 2013. He is second in the Lites 1 Masters class, 21 points behind leader John Falb, with two rounds remaining Oct. 2-3 at Road Atlanta.

 

The increased commitment to the series came because of more available time. The economic recession forced Yount to devote many extra hours to his job as president and CEO of Southwest Funding, a Dallas-based mortgage bank and broker with more than 60 locations nationwide. But improving economic conditions this year gave him the time to race more often. 

"It was something I always wanted to do," Yount said of racing the entire schedule in 2014. "The series was well worth the time and the effort and the money if I had the time. It was that kind of year, and we put a little bit more commitment into it. I put together a team of a couple of guys that I thought would make it fun and at the same time competitive. So we went ahead and committed." 

Don Yount
Yount's crew has experience in Prototype Lites and other series, but all of his mechanics work at other jobs, another anomaly in the Prototype Lites paddock. The race team also has become a family affair, as Yount's father recently retired and now drives the team's truck to each race. 

The common thread between Yount and his crew is friendship. They're all his buddies from the Dallas area. They're also very good at squeezing speed from a race car despite lacking some of the high-tech engineering of rival teams. 

Yount started the season slowly, with two third-place finishes in L1 Masters through the first eight rounds of the season in the No. 28 Yount Motorsports car. But he has been the hottest driver in the class down the stretch, with four consecutive podiums entering Road Atlanta. Yount has scored 66 points in the last four races, more than any other driver in the class. 

"We're just better prepared than we were at the beginning of the season, and we're going into the races with a different kind of preparation and with the expectations of being on the podium every time," Yount said. "The confidence of knowing we can do it, and we can, going into the races. We have the opportunity to get up at the front these days." 

That opportunity also blossoms with more track time. Yount insists his rapid improvement - especially in the second half of the season - is well worth the additional time commitment required by a full season of competition. 

Plus Yount and his team swell with pride a bit more at every race as they climb the L1 Masters standings against multi-car teams.

 

"When they can see that we can run with a big team or beat a big team at the end of the day, what they accomplished, that feels good," Yount said. "We're sitting there putting in that extra effort, but at the same time, that's what makes it fun when you can get results." 

Yount's success has come amid the constant elevation of the competitive level of the series, something he observed on a part-time basis for the last five years but has seen with wide-open eyes in a full season in 2014. 

"When I first got here, there were always the front-runners, the mid-pack, and then there was the back pack," Yount said. "The whole group a lot of these races (now) are front pack. There isn't that back pack. 

"There's just that level of intensity and level of driving ability and level of talent that's in the series right now is just unbelievable. Some guys who were running on podiums or running up front (in the past) are running in the back. It's very, very impressive this year." 

The strong season among tough competition already has spawned plans for 2015 for Yount. He wants to run the full season again next year, aiming for the L1 Masters championship, class victories and an elusive spot on the overall podium in a race. 

"There's not a better series in which you can go faster, you can kind of run for the price than you can," Yount said. "It's one of those things where I had the opportunity this year and hopefully next year, too, I want to give it a full commitment. 

"I'm the only one with a single trailer and a truck pulling it, but at the same time we're out there with the same intensity as everyone else but with a much smaller budget, and we're out there and we're laughing and having a good time. It's got to be fun at the same time, or we're not going to do it." 

Practice for the two Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda rounds at Road Atlanta starts at 8:45 a.m. (ET) and 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, with qualifying at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 2. 

Two races - the first 30 minutes and the second 45 minutes - are scheduled. The first race starts at 1:25 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, with the second at 9:10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 3. 

Fans can follow the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda action this week from Road Atlanta. Live timing from all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com, with live text commentary from all sessions tweeted @IMSALive.

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) season finale at Road Atlanta means double the fun for Alta Velocita Racing (AVR) driver/team owner Jerome Mee. 

Mee will race in the final two rounds of the 2014 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered By Mazda season Oct. 2-3 followed by his first career TUDOR United SportsCar Championship start Oct. 4 in the famed Petit Le Mans. 

The 10-hour endurance event at Road Atlanta's 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course will be Mee's first experience driving for Performance Tech Motorsports with professional teammates David Ostella and James French. The three drivers each will take multiple stints in the No. 38 Dash Neighborhood/ Phillips 66 Prototype Challenge (PC) car. 

No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Prototype Challenge car

"Stepping into this race, I'm going in with my eyes open to the fact that being the gentleman driver my job is to go out, keep the pace and keep the car smooth and intact," Mee said. "My goal is to make laps, stay quick and efficient, and that's it. I'll leave the actual racing aspect of it to the pros, David and James, who are incredibly quick. My goal is to compliment them and keep the car solid for them to go out and race." 

Just over a year ago, Mee sat behind the wheel of his No. 95 AVR Prototype Lites car for the first time at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Now Houston resident Mee is racing among the top of the Lites 2 class while also trying his hand at sports car racing's top tier of competition. 

"It reminds me of last year when I had my first Lites race at COTA," Mee said. "I was sitting in my trailer getting dressed and wondering why I was feeling nauseous. I realized it was butterflies that I had not felt in over 25 years. Over the course of this season I didn't notice it as much, but I have a feeling I'll feel that way come Saturday. 

"I'm looking forward to doing this. I'm not in fear of it. Before I was anxious because I didn't know what to expect and I had not been in the environment before, but now I've been in the environment for a year and I know what to expect. I have a fantastic team behind me. I will have a coach on the radio with me the whole time getting me through this. My job is to do the best job that I can for Performance Tech, and I'm going to do everything I can to make that possible." 

No. 95 Alta Velocita Racing Prototype Lites car

In the final two sprint races of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered By Mazda season, Mee is looking for nothing but pure competition. Brian Alder of BAR1 Motorsports has clinched the Lites 2 championship, giving Mee and Todd Slusher of ONEMotorsports a shot at second place. 

"I want to work on being as quick and effective as possible and having good, aggressive races," Mee said. "When I say aggressive, I mean assertive and smart. Whether that's with Todd or Brian or all of us, I just really want to go in and duke it out. Where I finish is not as important as having the experience of being able to duke it out with those guys. I want to have a challenge, be in the race and have a good, clean, hard-fought battle." 

Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda practice is set for 8:45 a.m. (ET) and 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, followed by qualifying at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 2. 

Two races - the first 30 minutes and the second 45 minutes - are scheduled for 1:25 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, and 9:10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 3. 

The green flag will drop for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season finale at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 4. The 10-hour Petit Le Mans endurance event will be broadcast on FOX.

 Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Alabama, was able to back up his chart-topping performance from the morning practice after setting the fast time in practice two of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, in preparation for Championship Round 11; part of the Petit LeMans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. Sebastian Landy, of Great Falls, Virginia, and Dean Copeland, of Bowie, Maryland, completed the top three positions.
 
In the No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Bimmerworld MX-5, Sparks finished the session with a lap time of 1:39.927 (91.506 mph) around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile track. Looking toward this afternoon’s qualifying session, Sparks feels confident regarding his performance.
 
“The heat brought out a couple flaws in our setup,” Sparks said. “We were expecting some of them, but were hoping they wouldn’t be so detrimental. Both John [Dean] and I had really good runs. I’ll be interested to see how fast he goes in qualifying.
 
“I’m looking forward to qualifying since we have some adjustments in mind to counter the heat. The temperature will be similar during qualifying, so I think we’ll end up in good shape.”
 
Landy, in the No. 49 Excitations.com/Atlanta Motorsports Group MX-5, gained three position from that in which he finished the first practice session. His time of 1:39.937 (91.498 mph) was only 0.009-second slower than that of Sparks. Landy said things are coming together for him from a setup standpoint.
 
“It was definitely a good run,” Landy said. “We’ve been sorting the car out throughout the test day, going a couple different directions. Finally, I think we found a pretty good spot. In this session, we were most concerned with how the car was going to behave as the track got hotter since we will be qualifying and racing later in the day.
 
“The car feels great. The BFGoodrich Tires are good. It’s always an experience, here, at Road Atlanta. The track is a bit of a rollercoaster, so that’s just something to which we, as drivers, adjust.”
 
Another driver who made marked improvements from the morning session was Copeland. Following his sweep at Road America in Augut at the controls of the No. 7 Copeland Motorsports Sync Speed Inc./Brimtek MX-5, Copeland advanced four positions over his performance in the official opening session. In the warmer conditions, Copeland completed a best lap of 1:39.970 (91.467 mph).
 
“I feel like we’re a little behind the eight ball,” Copeland said. “I’ve been struggling all weekend. This isn’t my favorite track, but we’ll keep working on it. I felt like the track got really greasy that last session, but everyone was moving around. We’ll just see what happens during qualifying.
 
“This track is just crazy. In order to be fast here, you have to risk everything. It’s that way, especially in turn five with concrete walls on both sides. But, I was able to win the last time I was here, so anything can happen.”
 
In the No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5, John Dean slowed slightly during the session, but still turned a lap time of 1:40.067 (91.378 mph).
 
Patrick Gallagher, in his No. 28 MedBuild/Henry Schein/ModSpace MX-5, cracked the top five with a fast lap of 1:40.071 (91.375 mph).
 
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper of Toluca Lake, California, moved up one position to take over the top of the time charts in class. His lap of 1:41.399 (90.178 mph) was just less than a one-second improvement over his best lap during practice one in the No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5.
 
“At this point, the tires are very worn,” Kemper said. “We’ve been on the same set for three test sessions and two practices. The track is also heating up and getting rubbered down with several different compounds that don’t necessarily agree with ours.
 
“I spent most of the session bedding some brake pads and rotors. Once I got finished with that, I was able to jump into the wake of one of the Cup cars and turn a good lap. I think getting a legal tow around this track will be important for turning fast laps in qualifying.”
 
Following Kemper’s improvement, Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, slotted into second place with a time of 1:41.950 (89.691 mph). Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, completed the top three at the controls of the No. 61 Project Yellow Light SBMX-5, with a lap of 1:42.096 (89.562 mph).
 
The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires is on track for qualifying at 4:45 p.m. (EDT), today. Round 11 is slated to start Oct. 2, at 5:30 p.m. (EDT), with Round 12 scheduled for Oct. 3, at 8:00 a.m. (EDT).
 

It all comes down to this. After a thrilling season of drag racing action on the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series North American Tour and IHRA's premier sportsman series, the best drivers in IHRA drag racing head to Memphis International Raceway for the final race of the 2014 season at the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals the weekend of October 10-11.



The IHRA Summit World Finals return to Memphis International Raceway October 10-11 with one of the biggest AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car races of the season

In professional action, three of the five Nitro Jam classes have already secured their champions entering the event, with Jason Rupert, Ron Maroney and Elaine Larsen locking up the Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Altered and Jet Dragster titles respectively, but big money and even more championships are on the line when the IHRA returns to Memphis for the most exciting race of the year.

"The Summit World Finals is such a huge event for the racers, the fans and the IHRA. This event features the best-of-the-best in the world of drag racing from across North America and every pass down the track will have championship implications," said Scott Gardner, President of IHRA Motorsports. "With both the professional and sportsman championships on the line October 10-11 in Memphis, there is simply no event more important than the Summit World Finals."

In addition to IHRA's five professional Nitro Jam categories, the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals will also feature two championship tournaments for the best racers in IHRA's sportsman classes. Fans will witness bonus racing as they have an opportunity to watch the crowning of seven champions in the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL and another three champions with the Summit SuperSeries presented by AMSOIL.



Racers from more than 30 states and from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and Aruba will travel to Memphis to compete for one of 10 sportsman championships

But it will be the Nitro Jam classes that take center stage. 

Highlighting IHRA's professional Nitro Jam lineup are the extremely popular AMSOIL Nitro Funny Cars. While California native Jason Rupert has already locked up the championship in the class, there are still plenty of bragging rights up for grabs with one of the biggest Nitro Funny Car races of the season.

Rupert, who has won four races this season in the Bays and Rupert "Black Plague" '69 Camaro, will try to add to his Ironman collection against fellow 2014 Funny Car winners Shawn Bowen in the "Violator" Pontiac, Mike McIntire in the "McAttack" Camaro and John Hale in the "Mike Burkhart" Camaro.

Joining them in Memphis will be Ronnie Young in "Blue Max," Tim Boychuk in "Forever Forward," Mark Sanders in "Mr. Explosive," Bruce Litton in "U.S. Male," Peter Gallen in "Poverty Stricken," Jake Crimmins in "Crazy Jake," Mike Smith in "Hard Guys" and Greg Jacobsmeyer in "All-Star."

"Memphis may just see one of the most competitive Nitro Funny Car races we have ever held. With new champion Jason Rupert joining three-time defending IHRA champion Peter Gallen, along with 'Mr. Explosive' Mark Sanders, record-setter Shawn Bowen, John Hale and more, we may see records shattered during the World Finals," Gardner said.



IHRA's Mountain Motor Pro Stock teams make their MIR debut

Also making history in Memphis will be the debut of the world's only Jet Dragster championship program being contested by the four fastest women in drag racing - the Larsen Motorsports jet team. This four-car team is made up of four very talented female competitors with vastly different backgrounds. The team of Elaine Larsen, Marisha Falk, Allison West and Kat Moller will compete in 300 mph, side-by-side jet-powered drag racing action.

Pro Stock will enter the World Finals as one of two classes with its championship still up for grabs.

Three-time event winner in 2014, Cary Goforth will lead the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class into the World Finals behind the wheel of the Dean's Casing Service 2014 Chevrolet Camaro. Just behind Goforth is John DeFlorian in the Black Diamond Motorsports Camaro. They will be joined by Goforth Racing teammates Dean Goforth and Todd Hoerner, most recent national event winner Kevin Bealko, John Konigshofer, Brad Waddle, Scott Hintz and more.



Don't miss the return of the Summit World Finals at Memphis International Raceway

IHRA's other nitro divisions will include Nitro Harley and Nitro Altered, two radical and extreme classes that are among the most popular in the sport.

Louisiana native Randal Andras leads the 220 mph nitro-powered motorcycle class into Memphis as one of four drivers who can still claim the Nitro Harley championship. Canadian Mike Scott is hot on his heels in second, followed by Mark Cox and Jay Turner.

Nitro Altered will include Arizona native and 2014 champion Ron Maroney in "Blind Faith," Las Vegas native and third generation racer Kyle Hough in "Nanook, the popular "Arizona Thunder" driven by Mike Hilsabeck, "Bullet Bob" driven by Don Blackshear and more.

In addition to all of the on-track action, the 2014 Summit World Finals will feature an all-new and fully interactive Fan Fest pit experience. Fans can tour the pits, meet the drivers and take part in a number of fun family activities. Among the activities is the Larsen Motorsports Jet Technology Center, a hands-on look at the design and technology behind a jet-powered racing team and the Hollywood Cars of the Stars featuring real cars from famous movies and television shows such as the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the Batmobile from the 1960s Batman television series and more.

Tickets to the Summit World Finals can be purchased online or at the gate. Adults can save $5 if they purchase their tickets in advance at www.nitrojam.com. 

Showtime is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday for qualifying and 6 p.m. on Saturday for eliminations.

For more information, visit www.nitrojam.com or call Memphis International Raceway at (901) 969-7223.

The Greater Smyrna Clayton Boys & Girls Club members and surrounding community received a taste of Coney Island this week thanks to Nathan's Famous and KaBOOM!.  The world famous hot dog company and national non-profit dedicated to giving kids the play they need to thrive honored the organization by bringing their Ready. Set. PLAY. program to the Smyrna, Del., area. The unique program was created earlier this year by Nathan's Famous and KaBOOM! to celebrate balanced and active play and honor the "playmakers" who are making play possible in communities around the country. Acme Markets also stepped in to support the event with a donation of food items to complement the Nathan's hot dogs children and guests enjoyed during the afternoon of fun. 

Nathan's Famous and KaBOOM! chose to honor the Greater Smyrna Clayton Boys & Girls Club because of their commitment to inspiring and enabling all young people, especially those from disadvantage circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The club's before and after care programs have a strong emphasis on gross motor skills, as well as healthy eating and enjoying the outdoors and play together. 

"We are really proud of our partnership with KaBOOM! and to have the opportunity to create a program like Ready. Set. PLAY." said Mike Paribello, senior director of marketing for the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods and licensing partner of Nathan's Famous. "We've had a tremendous amount of fun traveling across the country this year honoring the organizations, such as the Greater Smyrna Clayton Boys & Girls Club, and the schools who are working hard to promote and protect active play for children and their communities. We're also thankful for the support from Acme Markets and are thrilled they could join us for a play-filled afternoon." 

"The fundamentals of balanced and active lifestyles begin at home with our parents and in our communities," said KaBOOM! CEO and Founder Darell Hammond. "With support from Nathan's Famous through Ready. Set. PLAY., we are able to bring play opportunities to communities across the nation and inspire kids and families to incorporate play in their everyday lives."  

The fun-filled afternoon included the flavors of Coney Island with delicious Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, carnival-like games, and giveaways. Leading up to this event, youth ages five to 12 years old had the opportunity to submit an essay about what play means to them and why play matters for all kids. Seven winners were selected at the event and as a prize, received tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, September 28 at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. 

"We feel both honored and thrilled to be chosen by Nathan's Famous and KaBOOM! for the recognition of our commitment to the children of the Smyrna Community," said Trisha Moses, regional operations team leader and executive director, Greater Smyrna Clayton Boys & Girls Club. "We feel this Ready. Set. PLAY. event is an excellent and exciting way to jumpstart the school year. It's through our continued partnerships and support that we are able to offer year-round activities in the areas of academics, sports, and prevention related programs. I would like to extend a very special thanks to Nathan's Famous and KaBOOM! for making this special event possible." 

For more information, please visit Nathan's Famous and KaBOOM! online.

 

Competitors of the European Le Mans Series paddock are getting ready for the fifth and final race of the 2014 season, a race which will see no fewer than 37 cars on the starting grid at Estoril. A new venue for the ELMS this year, Portugal is preparing to host the series' finale and there are a great number of teams on the entry list.

Just as at the start of the season, 10 LMP2s will take the start for the 4 Hours of Estoril and the main protagonists are Signatech Alpine (Paul-Loup Chatin, Nelson Panciatici, Oliver Webb), current Championship leaders with 10 points in hand, and the British JOTA Sport team and its trio of drivers which includes Portuguese driver and local star, Filipe Albuquerque. NewBlood by Morand Racing scored its first win of the season at Paul Ricard Circuit on September 14th and the Swiss are determined to continue the momentum with their superbly balanced trio of Gary Hirsch, Christian Klien and Pierre Ragues.  

Mathematically the top four are still all in with a chance of the title, and Race Performance will be there with Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux (ORECA03-Judd). Thiriet by TDS Racing, who were unlucky in France, hope to be able to compete despite the technical problems encountered with the new Ligier JS P2 Nissan since Red Bull Ring.  It will be driven once again by the brilliant French trio of Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy. The ORECA-03R-Nissan of Sébastien Loeb Racing will be led by Vincent Capillaire, with the names of the other two drivers to be announced later.  Greaves Motorsport is playing the local card, with Portuguese driver Miguel Faisca alongside young Matt McMurry and the name of the third driver for the No.41 Zytek Z11 SN still to come.  In the Greaves No.28 entry Luciano Bacheta and Mark Shulzhitskiy will be back on track together.  At Murphy Prototypes, star performer for the team in France, Pipo Derani, returns but with two newcomers in the No.48 ORECA0 3R-Nissan, Britons James Littlejohn and Tony Wells. Finally, the Morgan Nissan of Pegasus Racing returns with the same line-up of Swiss Nicolas Leutwiler, Frenchman Julien Schell and Briton Jonathan Coleman.

 

Nine Ferrari 458 Italias, two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, one 911 RSR and an Aston Martin Vantage V8 make up the list of 13 LMGTEs entered for the final round in Estoril. The No.55 AF Corse currently at the head of the category's standings will be in the hands of its favoured line-up of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Michele Rugolo, while the crew of the No.54 of the team remains unchanged. For the last race of the season, it's great to be able to include the FIA WEC LMGTE Am trio of Emmanuel Collard, François Perrodo and Yannick Mallegol to the ELMS, and the trio will be at the wheel of the third AF Corse entry, the No.70.

At SMP Racing, the No.72 F458 - second in the points' classifications - will also be driven by WEC drivers, notably Sergey Zlobin who is dominating the WEC LMP2 Drivers rankings.  JMW Motorsport will feature its duo of Daniel McKenzie and George Richardson again at the wheel of the No.66 F458, with the third driver to be confirmed.  Alexander Talkanitsa will be joined by Pierre Kaffer and Mirko Venturi in the No.56 Ferrari of the AT Racing team. At Kessel Racing, its Ferraris will be driven by its usual pairings, just as at Team Sofrev-ASP (No.58 F458), which is hoping for better results after its Paul Ricard disappointments (mechanical failure).  IMSA Performance Matmut won't be changing its line ups for the final race of the season in its No.76 and 67 Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, while the same goes for Gulf Racing UK and its No.85 Aston Martin V8 Vantage and the No.86 blue and orange Porsche 911 RSR.

For the European Le Mans Series' grand finale, the GTC class will include some newcomers among the 14 teams entered.  Although it didn't achieve the desired results at Paul Ricard, Team Ombra returns to Estoril to continue its learning curve with the No.92 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, driven by Mario Cordoni and Marco Zanuttini. For the first time this season Team Russia by Barwell will not alone in entering a BMW Z4 GT3 as BMW Sport Trophy Marc VDS will join it with the No.87, driven by Belgian Bas Leinders and Finland's Markus Paltalla.

Neither the No.73 SMP Racing entry at the head of the class standings with 79 points, nor the No.60 Formula Racing Ferrari (2nd with 60,5pts) will change its line up for the final round.  The crews of the other two F458s in the class, the Nos.71 and 73 of SMP Racing also remain unchanged.  ART Grand Prix will rely on the same drivers for its two McLaren MP4 12C GT3s, Nos.98 and 99, while the AF Corse team will field the third Portuguese driver for the start of the 4 Hours of Estoril on board the No.63 458 of Mads Rasmussen/Filipe Barreiros, but no changes to the No.95.  Team Sofrev ASP maintains its 100% French line up of Christophe Bourret, Pascal Gibon and Jean-Philippe Belloc. The Porsche GT3 R and 997 GT3R of ProSpeed Competition and Pro GT by Almeras respectively are in the hands of Max van Splunteren, Gilles Vannelet and Mike Parisy for the former, and Franck Perera, Lucas Lasserre and Eric Dermont for the latter.

The provisional entry list for the 4 Hours of Estoril can be found HERE.

The ELMS 4 Hours of Estoril will take place on Sunday 19 October in Portugal. The racing will be exciting, and the battle for supremacy will run from start to finish in every class so join us for the Grand Finale of the 2014 European Le Mans Series.

 

At New Jersey, Jake Gagne wrapped up his first AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike championship, winning one race and finishing second in the other in last weekend's doubleheader. 

Gagne marked his stamp on the 2014 season as he continues the upward trajectory of his racing career. 

Gagne showed up at the Kawasaki Devil's Showdown at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the midst of a close title fight with a hot young rider and left the Garden State after making a statement in a pressure-filled weekend. No stranger to championship hunts, the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull pilot previously won the highly contested Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in Europe. He showed up at New Jersey calm and collected then went about his business in his usual professional manner. 

The season was especially competitive, with five riders winning races and a dozen or more racers capable of putting their machine on the podium at any race. Gagne was consistently quick and it paid off over the course of the year. Gagne won when he could (with three victories, tied for the most in class) but grabbed maximum points when he couldn't. 

Several riders experienced hot streaks along the way, but the Californian finished first or second in the last four races, when it counted most. His combination of speed and temperament paid off big time. 

Gagne may have given the impression everything was smooth, but it wasn't always. The team changed to Penske suspension before the season, so previous data wasn't necessarily relevant. Gagne also had arm pump issues early and had surgery following the Alabama round. 

In New Jersey, Gagne took second place to Dane Westby in the first race, clinching the championship when second place points man Jake Lewis had bike issues during the red flag. On Sunday, he won in the dry to end the season in style. His pace was hot and he grew a gap while riders behind him diced for position. 

For Gagne, the future is bright, indeed. His smooth riding style should adapt to bigger bikes, too. 

"It was a huge weight off our shoulders to get it done," said Gagne. "I'm totally stoked for my guys and for the team. This is awesome. I mean, there's no better way to thank your guys for their hard work than by winning the championship. We set out with one goal this season, to win races.  If we did that then the championship would come. We didn't win as many as we wanted (but) in the end we got the championship." 

"Ending the season with a win is amazing," he added after his 2.562-second victory on Sunday. "Dane and Garrett (Gerloff) and those guys were really haulin', and I could see on my pitboard that I needed to turn it up a little bit." 

Westby also had a huge weekend in New Jersey. 'The Wolverine' grabbed the opportunity to leap to third in points on the Yamalube/Westby Racing entry. His pole, a win on Saturday, and third on Sunday rounded out a great year as Westby cemented his status as a class contender on a brand new team. 

Westby won three races, equal with Gagne as best in class in 2014. He rebounded from a tough start, with a crash at Daytona while running at the front and then a machine failure in the next race at Road America, to charge up to the top three via some fast riding. 

Westby said he couldn't sleep the night before Saturday's races. Never a great qualifier, Westby surprisingly put it on pole for the races and then was a demon in the wet, running away on Saturday in both legs of the red-flagged race. 

"I still have the claws," said the Oklahoman. "It was extremely treacherous out there, even with the rain tires. Until the very end, it was tough even with the bike straight up. Eric Knight, my Ohlins guy, put a new shock in at the last second for the wet conditions. I am glad we had a couple of laps to try things out before the race started. The crew has really worked hard for me all year and this morning they really came through again. They gave me a great bike in the dry and in the wet. I felt like I was on fire." 

Jake Lewis came into the season eying the title. He and his Motosport.com/Meen Yamaha team entered the weekend trailing by seven points. An unfortunate machine issue left him in pit lane when the race restarted after a red flag and his championship hopes evaporated. 

Still, it didn't take away from Lewis' season, one that saw him win twice (his first AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike victories) and fight back into the points. The teenager proved he is a hot commodity in the paddock. 

Lewis charged back on Sunday, fighting for the second spot before ultimately finishing a close fourth. 

Gerloff closed out the year with fourth on Saturday and second on Sunday. The Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha pilot was strong late in Race 2, making his way through Westby and Lewis on the last laps. 

"That was a fun race, to be in that group with Dane. I was glad to get at the front of those guys and finish second," said Gerloff, sixth in the final standings. "The year didn't go quite the way I'd hoped, but I have to thank my Y.E.S./Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha team for giving me an awesome R6 all season long." 

Eslick emerged as fourth in points. The DAYTONA 200 win was a highlight of his season and 'Slick' also took a championship in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series, but a Sunday morning tumble didn't help him hold off Westby in the points. 

"Crashing the Harley wasn't a good thing. My thumb is sore and my shoulder is pretty banged up," said Eslick.

Eslick's fifth and sixth held off JD Beach in the standings. Beach, on board the other Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha entry, earned eighth and fifth in New Jersey. 

Jake Zemke earned his first podium of the year on Saturday. The veteran made the most of tough conditions to put the M4 Motorcycle Racing squad on the box for the first time in 2014. 

"It's been a tough year for us and we wanted to get up on the podium before the year was out," said Zemke. "I wanted to get up here to reward all the guys who worked hard all season." 

Zemke dedicated the performance to his stepson who passed away this spring. He ended the year seventh in points. 

Castrol/Triumph/Sportbike Track Time's Jason DiSalvo couldn't back up his Mid-Ohio win this time out, but the New York native secured eighth in the championship, ahead of fellow New Yorker Kyle Wyman with Kyle Wyman Racing. 

Blake Young finished tenth on the GN Gonzalez entry. Young topped the best rookie in class, Tomas Puerta of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull. 

Another young rider, Joe Roberts of M4 SportBikeTrackGear.com, earned his best result of the year on Saturday with sixth place.

It’s back-to-school time for school kids across the county and the acclaimed R.A.C.E. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education outreach program is back in action.  Launched by Mazda in January, the Racing Accelerates Creative Education (R.A.C.E.) outreach program has now positively impacted more than 10,000 middle and high school students. To date, there have been 22 interactive presentations at 12 schools local to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship events. 

“This STEM program has been one of the most rewarding things we’ve done at Mazda Motorsports,” enthused John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports and driving force behind Mazda’s R.A.C.E. STEM initiative. “We’re happy to report that our future is in good hands as the students that we’ve been fortunate enough to interact with are demonstrating the drive, initiative and curiosity that it takes to convert STEM education into global innovation.” 

Earlier this week over 1,400 students from James Bowie High School and Akins High School in Austin experienced Mazda’s STEM presentation.  Thanks to the STEM advocates and leadership team at Circuit of the Americas, each student was given a free race ticket for this weekend’s race. 

“Through the track promoter ticket giveaways, we’ve been able to bring students to the race events and take them behind the curtain to show how Mazda uses STEM in every aspect of our racing and engineering programs,” explained Joel Miller, Mazda factory driver, race team degreed engineer, and Mazda’s featured speaker at the schools. “We’re grateful to those promoters that have supported the program, because together, we’ve created not only new sports car racing fans, but we’ve made the connection between the classroom and the careers in motorsports. It’s fantastic.”

 Mazda’s 2014 STEM campaign will close out with two more presentations in advance of the Road Atlanta Petit Le Mans race. Both will be held at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga. on September 30. Plans for the 2015 R.A.C.E. STEM schedule are underway.

 

Mat and Mark Pombo took their first podium finish of the season on Friday, driving the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 to third during the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Circuit of the Americas. The brothers had the highest-finishing Mazda in the ST class. 

The successful weekend at Austin brings Freedom Autosport’s tally to three wins, six podiums and eight top-five finishes this season. 

Mark Pombo started in the No. 25 Mazda after qualifying seventh. By the time he pitted to hand the car over to Mat, it was beginning to rain on some sections of the track. It posed a tough strategy call for tire selection, and Freedom Autosport chose to keep slicks on the No. 25 Mazda while Mat drove the second half of the race. 

“The crew did a great pit stop and we decided to stay on dry tires,” Mat said. “It was a good call by the crew and they really got us that finish. It was one of the wildest races I’ve been in because the track was changing every lap. It was one of my more fun races, too, because it was challenging and hard to get into a rhythm.” 

Staying out of trouble in the rain was not the only factor that made the Pombos’ podium especially memorable. Their father, Pepe Pombo, joined the team as their engineer for the weekend, and he will be with them again at their home track of Road Atlanta next week. 

“We were trying new shocks and it was dad’s first race as car chief, but we knew we had a good setup and we knew we could get a good finish,” says Mark, who was racing at Circuit of the Americas for the first time. “It was an uphill battle to learn the track, test the new shocks and get Dad up to speed, but we were optimistic about our chances going into the race.” 

Randy Pobst and Andrew Carbonell finished 10th in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, battling a transmission issue to remain in the top ten. Matt Fassnacht and Britt Casey, Jr. were 21st in the No. 27 Mazda. 

Watch Mat and Mark Pombo earn their podium finish at Circuit of the Americas on September 28, during the Fox Sports 1 broadcast at noon ET.

Following its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) this weekend, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) sets its sights on another round of FIA WEC competition by entering the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
 
The Florida-based team has entered both its Tequila Patrón-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b (HPD) prototypes in the LMP2 class for the Nov. 2 race at China’s Shanghai International Circuit. In order to prepare both Tequila Patrón-sponsored HPDs to meet FIA WEC regulations, Extreme Speed Motorsports will not compete in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s season finale – Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
 
“What an incredible opportunity and next step to take Tequila Patrón and ESM to Shanghai and race against the top P2 cars in the world,” said Scott Sharp, driver/owner of Extreme Speed Motorsports. "We're equally excited to utilize Tequila Patrón’s investment in motorsports to help further expose the brands to one of the hottest global markets.”
 
Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Ricardo Gonzalez will co-drive the No. 30 Tequila Patrón HPD. Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and David Brabham will co-drive the No. 31 Tequila Patrón HPD.
 
“We enthusiastically welcome David and Ricardo to our driver lineup,” continued Sharp. “Both David and Ricardo have raced at Shanghai and we'll leverage their experience there to get our Honda prototypes ready for that six-hour race. We're still learning our way around the FIA WEC. We believe that a two-car effort will be that much stronger in China.”
 
Over the next several weeks, ESM will make the necessary modifications to both the Tequila Patrón-sponsored machines to compete on the 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) 16-turn permanent road course.
 
“This weekend was a good test for us with the FIA WEC,” stated Brown. “We’re committed to going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. I feel it is important for us to pick the absolute hardest race that the team could do, and that means racing in China; there’s language, food and logistics issues, among other challenges. If we truly want to be competitive at Le Mans or any other WEC race, we need to get our hands around the series and regulations at one of the most demanding locations. The best thing we can do is throw a challenge at the team. We’re going to learn so much in the week in China; it will pay huge dividends.
 
“We’re excited but know there is a give and take,” continued Brown. “Racing is expensive and because of that we’ll park the cars at Petit Le Mans and not run the final race of the TUDOR Championship series so we can setup the cars for Shanghai. By all means, we’re going to be racing in the United States next year, but we felt that this was important to set us up for the goals that we’ve set."
  
Gonzalez won both the 2013 FIA WEC World Championship for drivers and teams in the LMP2 class. A silver-ranked driver, Gonzalez has two previous starts at the Shanghai track. In 2013, Gonzalez and then co-drivers Bertrand Baguette and Martin Plowman qualified fourth and finished third driving for Oak Morgan-Nissan. Gonzalez also won the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans with Baguette and Plowman.
 
“I’m very excited to be joining ESM and Tequila Patrón for its international FIA WEC debut; what a great opportunity!” said Gonzalez.  “Last year was a dream come true winning the driver and team championship titles in LMP2, so I’m definitely ready to come back and keep chasing more victories in the WEC. Shanghai has always been one of my favorite tracks and I love going to China. I’m really looking forward to a successful weekend. I want to thank Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, and Tequila Patrón for giving me this opportunity.”
 
Brabham has competed with ESM for the last two seasons in the endurance races. Most recently, Brabham co-drove with Sharp and Dalziel to a third-place finish during the 2014 12 Hours of Sebring. Brabham finished fifth during the 2012 6 Hours of Shanghai in the JRM Racing LMP1 machine. In 2012, Brabham to returned the Tequila Patrón-sponsored team for the first time since winning the 2009 American Le Mans Series P1 championship with Sharp. A world-class driver, Brabham has three class (GT1 and LMP1) wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2007-2009) and one overall win (2009).  
 
“I am really looking forward to returning to Shanghai as I have raced there in the past racing for JRM in the HPD P1 car in 2012 and as a guest drive in a Porsche,” said David Brabham. “The track is demanding and has a strange grip level with makes the engineers work overtime. It will also be great to see the team as I haven’t seen them since we came so close to winning the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year. It will be the first time being teammates to Johannes and Ed, so I look forward to working with them again.”
 
While overseas, ESM drivers and crews will stay connected with family thanks to associate sponsor magicJack. The entire ESM team downloaded the magicApp to their phones to avoid roaming charges while in China.

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