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 

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