Monday, June 25, 2012

Co-Drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler: The Two-Man Wolf Pack Committed to be the Best

After two years of competition together as co-drivers, Team Falken Tire racers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler’s relationship shows maturity beyond its years. Nearly attached at the hip on American Le Mans Series race weekends, the two race car drivers are rarely spotted apart. After sessions in the car, they’re found in the team rig, analytically discussing the technical details of the car and Falken Azenis RT Slicks. In interviews, they are completing each other’s sentences and sharing secretive, knowing looks.  During their down time at the track, they can be found pulling fun practical jokes on unsuspecting victims. Co-drivers of the 2012 #17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on track and best friends off track, this duo is a shining example of two racers who can work calmly through stressful situations and still manage to have fun. 

After being acquaintances for some time, the duo’s first meeting as Falken Tire co-drivers took place at Sebring International Raceway for the Team Falken Tire Winter Test of 2010. Bryan Sellers ran all three of Falken’s ALMS races in 2009 and returned to compete in the team’s full season campaign with new co-driver Wolf Henzler.   “We met before but never really had a chance to talk,” said Bryan. “But in this sport, you know who the people are in the paddock.” Because of Wolf’s reputation as a Porsche Factory driver, Bryan was eager to have the German join the team.  Seeing Wolf as an asset to the team, Bryan was at ease with his new co-driver, despite never driving with or even being in the same room as him.

As most drivers would, Wolf felt unsure of what to expect. “Sometimes when you get to a new team and you get a new co-driver, and it takes a while, sometimes half a year, until you get along with him.”  This was not the case, as Wolf recalled the pair immediately got along. “We had the same thoughts and same ways of thinking that it didn’t take long at all. After Sebring, we were already really far in our relationship.”

How can two almost-strangers quickly become so close? Bryan credits it to the shared scheduling, similar lifestyles and high pressure situations that co-drivers endure in a typical race weekend. “We share a lifestyle that not many people can understand. Automatically you have a close connection from the beginning.”  With on and off track obligations, it will be a rare sighting to see Bryan and Wolf apart. “I don’t think people get how much time we spend together. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner together; at the end of the race, you have drinks together.”  Unlike other race series, in the American Le Mans Series, these two drivers are not racing for the same team and competing against each other, they share the same cockpit of the same race car. Every move they each make on track is for not only the team but their co-driver as well. “For me, what makes the biggest difference with Wolf is his commitment to be the best,” said Bryan. “I know that no matter how hard I work he works every bit as hard as I do. He’s always thinking about what to do to make something better. That’s not just in the car; it’s everything, all the time.  He’s someone you can trust and someone you can rely on.”

“I trust Bryan blindly,” said Wolf.  “Whatever he does I trust him. If Bryan says, for example, for the set-up we have to do this change, without driving the car, I would trust him.” A unique aspect to the duo’s relationship, setup or car feedback is something they have yet to disagree on. “That’s the good thing about having the same area of feedback,” said Bryan.  “Your window to improve the car is much larger. There’s never been a time where we’ve looked for something different in the car.” Although their views on specific details may differ slightly, but their ability to compromise and meet in the middle helps benefit the whole. “There’s never been a time when one of us has come in from a session and said ‘Well, I can’t drive it this way,’ or ‘I can’t drive it that way,’ and unfortunately, that does happen with a lot of drivers.  

“It’s always better if you get along with somebody as a friend,” said Wolf. “If you have a co-driver you don’t like, then you don’t enjoy the sessions, the driver changes—none of it.” The relationship of these two certainly does not remain strictly business.  Unbeknownst to many outsiders, Wolf has a prankster streak, one which has subsequently rubbed off onto Bryan. “One of our best pranks was when we put Wasabi in a team member’s coffee mug,” remarked a smirking Wolf.  The troublesome co-drivers have the same sense of humor, often sharing secretive looks followed by bursts of laughter.  “The good thing for me is he’s always in a good mood,” said Bryan. “Even mornings or days when I’m not, it makes it easier.” Speaking of easier, in an effort to cut down on costs when he’s in the United States, Wolf is even a part of a family cell phone plan with Bryan’s wife, Jamie Howe. “He’s part of the family plan, but I’m not,” joked Bryan. “He and Jamie are the family.”

“Sometimes when you get to a new team and you get a new co driver, you don’t know him very well, and the relationship depends on his character,” said Wolf. “He lives in the United States and I live in Germany. It’s a big distance, but we talk on the phone between races and frequently send emails back and forth.” 

“We were lucky,” said Bryan. “I’ve driven with Wolf longer than I’ve driven with anyone in my career. I’ve driven with people where you never get to the point where you never have a working relationship. You just co-exist. Here, you always want to take the extra step when they’re your friend. If I needed help, it wouldn’t be a chore for him to help me. He’d do it because he wanted to help, not because we’re on the same team and he had to help. That’s kind of what it’s all about.”

Team Falken Tire next races at Lime Rock Park in the American Le Mans Series July 6-7.

Team Falken Tire News
- Team Falken Tire and the Austin Hatcher Foundation are teaming up to hold a twitter auction with all proceeds going to benefit families with children suffering from pediatric cancer. The auction will take place on June 28th at 6:00pm Eastern. For more details visit and follow @AustinHatcherFo and @FalkenALMS on twitter.



    And I see, it is Wolf who is to blame for Bryan's "quirky" sense of mischief and humour....

    Great, insightful blog post! Really makes it feel like we get to know the team a bit more. Would love to also get quotes and bits from other team members, too, about the driver set up~ :)

    1. Thanks, Tracy! Glad you liked it! We hope to incorporate the crew's side of things in future blogs. Good to know that's what fans are looking for! Keep the feedback coming!