Friday, August 24, 2012

Round 7: Team Falken Busy with Two Car Rumors, Road America and a Porsche Rebuild

The American Le Mans Series Road Race Showcase at Road America was a weekend full of ups and downs. We met some great fans, had a huge turnout for the autograph session and even worked our way up to third position during the American Le Mans Series race.  In the final Falken pit stop, the team gained five positions in the GT class! Great job to the Falken crew for a perfectly executed strategy! Of course, the event ended on a disappointing note for the team when the team lost a tire in the Kink with 50 minutes remaining. Bryan Sellers was in the Porsche when it spun and hit the wall, and thankfully he was unharmed, but the Porsche was not able to continue. The team is investigating the cause of the incident to find out the precise cause and to move forward for the best possible outcome for the remainder of the season.

A big thank you goes to all of the fans who tweeted us well wishes for the team and Bryan following the incident on track. It was certainly a disappointing end to such a great run (We were up to third at one point and fourth when we crashed), but the support from the fans was overwhelmingly uplifting.

One Porsche to rule them all or two is better than one? Heading into the Road America race weekend, we generated a bit of buzz by posting this photo. The rumors started flying and the phones started ringing. writer John Dagys was the first to grab an exclusive interview with Program Manager Derrick Walker to talk about the possibility of a two car race team. You can read about it here.

Crew member Bessim works inside the cockpit of the #17 Porsche. Here, he’s working on the battery.

There’s no such thing as spare time on a race weekend. Here, truck driver Mo uses his free time to make sure every part of our paddock area was clean and presentable.

It pays to be a twitter follower! Ryan (@momedic9019) was the first to correctly answer our trivia contest, and his prize was a private tour of the Falken rig with Wolf and Bryan.

It’s all about the tires! The Falken Tire Corporation brought out some additional engineers to aid in the further development in the tires for the #17 Porsche. That’s dedication!

The Falken Porsche waits patiently in pit lane at Road America.

We asked Brad to hold his banner for a photo, but somehow he misinterpreted that as “wear this banner.” Maybe it’ll inspire a whole new line of Falken apparel? This banner was signed by all of the crew and given to the auction for the Tour De Road America and their fundraising efforts at the track.

Say “Ahhh!” The crew working hard to make changes on the Porsche in between sessions.

Engineer Ricky and Andrew from Porsche look over the data from the previous session. Every piece of information is useful.

Did you catch me doing that? Team Manager Phil peers at Falken Tire videographer Qazi as he films the crew working in the pits.

 This young race fan was visiting a race track for the first time! When Bryan and Wolf heard, they invited him into the paddock for a private tour and even gave him some swag to walk away with. We hope we made a good impression! 

Another session complete and Wolf and Bryan discuss everything from the car’s handling, to the balance, and the performance of the tires.

Then it’s back to the rig to discuss some more with the engineers and managers!

Getting the dirt! Our data engineer Ricky is the focal point for an upcoming piece in IEEE Spectrum. Alaina and Prachi tagged along for two days to meet the team, watch Ricky in action and enjoy some racing! Here, they’re interviewing Bryan about how vital Ricky is to the race team.

Lee meticulously works on the windshield tear offs. It can get pretty messy out there during a race and having a tear off makes for a faster pit stop, as opposed to taking time to clean the windshield. 

Lead Tire Engineer Yoshi speaks with ESPN Reporter Taro Koki. ESPN has a great staff of reporters who stopped by all weekend to make sure they had the latest information on Team Falken Tire.

During a practice session, Wolf felt the need to visit with the Porsche guys and joke around with them. It’s just one big family here.

Young fans get autographs from Bryan and Wolf. We had an incredible turn out at the autograph session and gave away so much swag! Thanks to all who stopped by!

Happy Birthday, Bryan! Before the race, the team and paddock sang happy birthday to Bryan, who turned 30 the following day.

The calm before the storm. Bryan spends the final few moments before the pre-race grid alone in the rig.

Wolf poses with friends on the pre-race grid. 

The #17 Falken Porsche showing off for the fans on the grid walk. Big thanks to the American Le Mans Series for allowing fans to get up close to the teams and the cars.

Bryan helps Wolf get situated in the Porsche. It’s almost time to go green at Road America.

Time to line up on the grid for the National Anthem and pre-race ceremonies!

The first pit stop of the race: Wolf gets out and Bryan jumps in as Dan fuels the car.

Following his release from the medical center after his crash in the Kink, Bryan looks on as the crew wheels out the wounded Porsche. 

Click here for the official team photos from the weekend and here for the official press release.

The crew worked feverishly to get the Porsche back into shape in time for the next race at Baltimore. Here's a few more shots of the #17 Porsche Connan's Paint & Body Shop in Zionsville, IN getting her panels straightened out on the jigs. Big thanks to Ed Napleton Porsche in Westmont,IL, and Celette Crash Repair Equipment for getting us the parts and equipment we needed to get the Porsche ready for Baltimore!

 Back at the shop, it’s time to paint!


It’s not a race car without an engine! We certainly don’t want to forget that!

Now that all of the damage is repaired, it’s time to prep the Porsche for Baltimore next week, where Bryan and Wolf will be defending their 2011 Falken win.

Time for the twitter fan photos! Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures from the event!

 From Will (@wwetherington), here’s the Falken crew getting ready for the first pit stop!

A stunning shot from Track Time Audio (@tracktimeaudio) of the Falken Porsche as she races away from the camera. 

  From Ben (@thebenwedge), here’s the Porsche overtaking a BMW. Get it! Ben also wrote a great recap of the weekend (including visiting us in our paddock) for RACER Magazine. Read it here

 Steve (steveieH_35) was one of four lucky winners to get a hot lap on track at Road America. He submitted this photo of his morning ride! Thanks Porsche for letting us use the rides!

Writer Alaina (@alainaglevine) getting her interviews on the grid for the article for IEEE Spectrum. Links will follow once the piece is complete.

From Mark (@MZimmerman914), the Porsche battles it out with a Corvette. This kind of competition is what it's all about!

And last but not least, the Falken Porsche enjoying the open road from Sport Auto Live (@sportautolive).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Round 6 Behind the Scenes: Falken Tire Returns to Mid-Ohio

In Round 6 of the American Le Mans Series, Team Falken Tire returned to the site of the team’s first ALMS win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Porsche Factory driver Wolf Henzler and Ohio Native Bryan Sellers drove the team to earn the second consecutive fourth-place finish for the 2012 season. Braving the hot and humid weather, it was a busy weekend for the GT team. Armed with a new tire, the team took full advantage of the allotted time on track in the #17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. For the team’s event press release, click here
Here’s your behind the scenes look at Team Falken Tire, Round 6 at Mid-Ohio.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car course is not completely level in all areas of the paddock. Immediately after setting up our temporary garage for the weekend, the crew immediately worked to level the car on the uneven ground. The technical inspection specs for the American Le Mans Series are very precise, and just a few millimeters off can ruin an entire race weekend.

Brad measures the ride height, or ground clearance, for the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Per IMSA regulations, the underbody Porsche has to be precisely 50mm above ground level. If the vehicle is just a millimeter off, the team could fail technical inspection.

Another extremely important spec to keep in mind is the height of the rear wing. According to IMSA spec, the top of the rear wing must be at the same height as the roof of the car.

A big talking point among the Falken twitter followers (@FalkenALMS) was the Falken Tire bat. As the team started to unload at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Wednesday, they had some special company:  A bat! After chasing down a few of the crew members, the bat took a break to pose for the picture, then hid somewhere in the rig. His whereabouts remain unknown. Fans from all over the globe asked for bat updates throughout the weekend as well as suggested some names for our newest groupie. Just some of the suggested names were Fliedermaus, Rainy, #BatOnBoard, Neklaf the Rubber Vampire, Azenis, and Billy. Many fans stopped by the rig in hopes of catching a glimpse of our winged friend, but alas, no luck.

Wolf plays video games with a patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. The American Le Mans Series has a strong relationship with the Austin Hatcher Foundation, an establishment dedicated to helping families with children suffering from Pediatric cancer.  At each race weekend, drivers from race teams volunteer their time to visit with children at local hospitals.

Bryan and a young patient build derby cars. Being a local track for Sellers, Bryan was honored to visit a hospital before the craziness of the race weekend began.

Wolf’s artistic skills were put to the test while building his derby car. What’s your verdict Falken Fans? Comment below!

Bessim takes a quick break from working under the Porsche to pose for a photo. Keep up the good work!

The Mid-Ohio Sports Car course is a home track for Bryan Sellers, so most of his free time was filled with local radio, TV and newspaper interviews. At the race track, it can be difficult to find a quiet spot to conduct an interview on the phone. Wolf and Bryan usually sit in the rear of the Falken Tire rig, away from the noise. You can see Bryan’s TV interview on Fox 45 here.

The Falken Tire crew watches the practice session TV on as Wolf is out on track in the #17 Porsche. Man, what did pit crews do when live feeds weren’t available?

Another post-session debrief in pit lane. Another caption contest photo maybe?

Wolf taking a moment to speak with Engineer John Ward. John’s extensive resume includes designing IndyCars, IMSA GTP cars and a Formula Ford, working for the All American Racers. He has also worked as a race engineer for many other race teams throughout the years before joining Team Falken Tire.

Friday afternoon, Team Falken Tire hosted a Tech Talk at the team transporter. Falken ALMS fans had the opportunity to learn from the drivers and team members to learn inside information about the car and the team, as well as ask questions about the program.  Representing the team were Falken drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler, Falken Tire ALMS Supervisor Kevin Jones and Engineer Brian Junger.

Many fans braved the heat to come learn more about the team. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and asked questions!

Time constraints prevented the drivers from doing the usual fan lunch at Mid-Ohio, but the drivers still volunteered a few minutes of their free time for twitter contest winner Kyle (@kylegibbygibson) and his dad Keith for a private tour of the Falken Tire paddock setup. Here, Bryan and Wolf are showing Kyle and Keith inside the #17 Porsche.

Wolf and Bryan also took Kyle and Keith inside the Falken Tire rig to see areas that most fans never have access to. A lot of incredibly confidential work happens behind the doors of the truck, and usually, only team members are allowed in. This was Kyle’s first ALMS race, and by winning the contest, he was able to get VIP access for the tour! Here, Wolf and Bryan are discussing how gross and sweaty their helmets get after a race session. As you can see, they are currently drying off before the next session. Whoever invented helmet drying devices is a genius.

Although it may look like Bryan and Wolf are signing the usual memorabilia item, they had something a little more devious up their sleeve….

In honor of his 100th Start, Bryan and Wolf signed a Falken Tire flag and presented it to fellow Porsche (non-Falken) driver Sascha Maassen.

It’s race day! Back on track, Program Manager Derrick Walker and Bryan Sellers watch on as Wolf is on track for the pre-race Warm Up session.

At every race, the American Le Mans Series allows fans to get up close to their favorite drivers at the autograph session.  Not only do fans get lanyards, key chains, flags, signed posters, calendars and hero cards, but sometimes they bring gifts for the drivers as well! Many fans stopped at the ALMS merchandise trailer beforehand (or visited to buy the new 2012 Falken Tire tshirts and brought them for the drivers to sign.

The Falken Girls, the crew and the #17 Porsche lined up on the grid. Time constraints prevented the Series from doing a fan grid walk, but ALMS hopes to be able to do it next year. We’d like to thank the fans for understanding! It’s not always easy sharing a race track with four other races series!

The first Falken Tire pit stop of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge.  During the two hour and 45 minute race, the team executed perfect pit stops. Here the team is doing a driver change, fuel and tires as Bryan passes off the driving to Wolf. In the final pitstop, the team engineers choose to not do a full load of fuel or do a tire change. The double-stint for the tires as well as the short fuel worked flawlessly as the Bryan Sellers brought the Falken Porsche across the finish line in fourth, and not a second too soon. As he crossed the finish line, the team heard Bryan come on the radio to inform them he was out of fuel. Talk about perfect timing!
Thanks to all of the fans who submitted photos from the event! Here are some of the highlights from our twitter followers. 

From Jesse (@jeriley), here’s view of our pit set up. We had to share pit lane with the IndyCar teams, and at times it made for close quarters—and a LOT of tires.

 The #17 Porsche Showing off: Another photo from Jesse.

From Sang (@sangbehr), the #17 Porsche patiently waits to be loaded onto the rig after a long race weekend. 

Sang also waited patiently in line to get the autographs of our Falken Girls Melanie (@MsMelanieT) and Randyl (@randyldawn).

Time to head home! Ken (@easyken) snapped this shot as the Falken Motorsports rig pulled out the paddock to head back to Indianapolis. 

For more coverage of the Mid-Ohio weekend, click here to read about Speedhunter’s weekend with Team Falken Tire. 

Round 8 in the American Le Mans Series is August 16-18 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Follow the team on twitter at for all the live updates. For more Series information, visit 

Tune-in Details for the Road Race Showcase:
Television Broadcast: 8/19/2012 at 2:00 pm EDT on ESPN 2
Live Streaming: 8/18/2012 at 3:15 pm EDT on ESPN 3
Live Qualifying: 8/17/2012 at 4:40 pm EDT on ESPN 3