Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Falken Tire’s Journey into the Land of Tim Horton’s for Round 5 of ALMS

We’ve officially reached the half-way point in the 2013 American Le Mans Series season. Round 5 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park didn’t prove to be the best weekend for the Porsche teams, but with two podiums so far this season, Team Falken Tire has a strong outlook on the remaining five races. CTMP showed some great racing and incredible team effort by Bryan Sellers, Wolf Henzler and the Falken Tire crew. 

At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the owners made vast improvements to the facilities. The most obvious one when pulling into the track was the new media center and hospitality area. Where a field used to be is now a beautiful facility for media members and VIPs that overlooks the final turns and the front straight.

After arriving at the track, team members Mike, Dan and Brandon were quick to set up the pit box and the fuel rig. IMSA, the sanctioning body of the American Le Mans Series, has strict regulations in regards to where all the equipment is positioned.

During the race broadcast, ESPN aired a short segment featuring our own Bryan Sellers explaining the new changes that Canadian Tire Motorsport Park made on track as well. After driving out to the corner with the film crew, Bryan chatted with race fans until the track was quiet enough to film. We’re hoping ALMS TV saved the gag reel, because it took quite a few tries to get everything just right.

The TV crew even tried a couple different locations, just in case one looked better than the other. As the last location was almost done filming, the Vitesse rides came out on track, adding to the challenge of getting the timing just right for the 15 second piece.

After filming the segment, Sellers rejoined the team as they waited for the first practice session to start. Alex and Artie were on hand to share a few laughs with Bryan.

Meanwhile Yoshi and Derrick discussed the recent changes in tire development and the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Every race weekend, Yoshi goes back and forth on a regular basis between the tire trailer and the team trailer in between sessions. His discussions with the drivers and team manager get relayed to the tire crew, who then work with the tires based on the feedback.

Always equipped with a funny remark, Mike was cracking jokes to Wolf before the driver got in the car.

The clouds looked dark as the cars got ready to practice. As most Falken Tire fans know, our Porsche isn’t afraid of a little rain after dominating in the rain at Mid-Ohio in 2011. With her rain tires on, the Porsche passed 12 cars in one lap during torrential downpour to take the GT win. An ALMS race hasn’t seen rain since.

Always prepared, Mo and Edo prepped the rain tires just in case. It ended up raining during the practice sessions, but most teams opted not to run, as race day as shown to have sunny skies. When the race weather report is clear, most competitors will chose to save fuel, time, tires, energy and any potential risk of damage and just opt out of a rainy session.

At the end of the paddock, the Porsche had room to show off for the fans without being in the way of competition teams. After being on display outside while the team worked in under the tent, Lee, Besim and Artie pulled the Porsche back into the garage.

We’re pretty sure Bryan and Wolf should get an award for speaking at the most Porsche Platz tents this year. The drivers love to meet with Porsche owners and usually always get some good questions. At CTMP, most of the questions revolved around the merge of GRANDAM and ALMS and the future of the new series, USCR. Most importantly, the Porsche Platz members wanted to know about the future of Falken Tire. The team is overwhelmed with support from fans and we’re thankful so many care about the team. Like our competitors, we need to know valuable information before making a decision for 2014. Not to worry, our fans will be first to know, and like you, we look forward to learning more about the United Sports Car Series.

In between the final practice and qualifying, instead of taking a moment to rest, Bryan used his few minutes of spare time to do an interview for ALMS TV for the upcoming race at Road America. Stay tuned to our twitter (@FalkenALMS) and we’ll post the video once it is live.
Back at the tire truck, Brad and Edo discussed the tires for race day. While the Walker Racing crew works hard on the Porsche after sessions, the Falken Tire crew is back at the tire tent, working hard, mounting tires for each session.

In the final session before the race, Mo, Mike and Brandon were serious, using the last session to make final preparations.

Wolf could easily win a blinking contest. Before he goes into the car, he almost turns into stone.

After the warm up session, Juliana was available to sign posters and had out Falken swag. It was her first ALMS event and the fans made her feel so welcome. Be sure to follow her on twitter at @JulianaDaniell.

All dressed and ready to race, Artie chose the final minutes before the pre-race grid to make sure our leading lady was clean and ready to show off to the fans.

Using nontraditional means to hide from the sun, Brandon got a few laughs from team members on the grid.

Juliana did a great job posing for photos with the car and with the fans. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who gets more attention!

On the pre-grid fan walk, all fans and media are welcome to see the cars up close and chat with the drivers. Many media use this opportunity to interview the drivers, getting their final thoughts before a race event. Some drivers are too stressed out and focused to do an interview, but Wolf and Bryan always make time.

Fans cleared the grid to head to their seats to catch the start and the team members lined up for the National Anthem and pre-race ceremonies.

Bryan and Wolf always get very solemn in the final moments before the engines start. Usually all fun and games, very little is said between the two, but without words, they understand each other perfectly. To read on the unique relationship between the Falken duo, go here.

Earlier this year, a fan asked us on twitter how the team eats meals during races. In between sessions, the team eats at Marion’s, one of the on-site catering options in the ALMS. During select race events, Marion and her staff will deliver meals, on request, to race teams in pit lane. The team waits until the race has started and for a time when they know they can take a break for 5-10 minutes. Every now and then, a team member will eagerly sit down with a full plate of food, only to hear an urgent call on the radio, jump up, set the plate down and be ready to spring into action.

Some team members, like Lee, choose to remain at his post and be ready at any moment.

Depending on the size of pit lane, crew members occasionally have to eat standing up. Luckily, the pit lane at CTMP allowed for team members to sit down for a few minutes to enjoy lunch.

Fuel, tires and driver change for the 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Race over, Brandon changed out of his fire suit and got to work on tearing down the pit box.

Meanwhile, back in the paddock, the crew took apart the tent, ready to pack up.

Working together as a team after a long weekend, the crew quickly got the paddock packed up. Immediately after the race, the team rested for the night before heading to Virginia International Raceway in the morning for another tire test.

Up next, the team will be at Road America for Round 6 of the 2013 American Le Mans Series August 9-11. It will be a big event for Falken fans, with many opportunities to meet the drivers and earn one-of-a-kind Falken Tire swag. If you’re going, Here are just some of the team events you don’t want to miss!
Friday, August 9th 1:45 - 2:15pm Bryan and Wolf (and yes, Patrick Dempsey) will be speaking at the Fan Forum at the Road America Center 2:15 - 2:45pm Bryan and Wolf will be on hand with Brian Till for the Team Falken Tire Auction. We'll be auctioning off car parts and signed memorabilia to benefit the Austin Hatcher Foundation. Be prepared to bid!
Sunday, August 11th 9:00am Falken Tire Girls will be signing autographs and taking photos outside Team Falken Tire rig 10:45am - 11:30am Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler will be signing autographs, handing out swag, and taking photos outside Team Falken Tire rig. 

Thank you to all the fans that came out to say hello while we raced in Canada. Canadian fans are incredibly welcoming and certainly know their racing. Here are YOUR fan photos from Round 5 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Although he has yet to make it to an ALMS race this year, we can always depend on Peter (@BaronVonClutch) to offer twitter coverage during a race and post screen shots of the action for our fans. Here, Wolf was in a battle for sixth with Garcia in the Corvette.

Brett (@bwass24) managed to get up close and personal with our leading lady.

Watching from the United Kingdom, Kim (@kimbo7887) cheered us on as the Porsche led the factory Corvette.

Last year, Mike (@MikeyP155) won lunch for him and his wife with Bryan and Wolf. This year, he came back to say hello and show his support during the autograph session. Always good to see you, Mike!

Paul (@mrv8rwd) sent us his favorite shot of the weekend: the Porsche going through the Esses.

Randall (@randallgough) caught Dan, Besim and Artie working hard immediately following the morning practice. Great job, guys!

Steve (@Scanman73) was at turn three to watch Bryan and Wolf test out the new patches on Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. 

Lastly, for laughs, we asked Bryan and Wolf to draw Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with their eyes closed. Who do you think drew it better?

1 comment:

  1. Great read and thanks again for putting my name and picture up. Will enjoy watching the next race.