Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Round 8: Falken Rises Above to Compete at Circuit of the Americas

For Round 8 of the American Le Mans Series took place at Circuit of the Americas, one of racing’s newest road courses. Less than a year old, the track is already considered one of the premier motorsport facilities North America has to offer. Build primarily with Formula One in mind, the track didn’t disappoint with exciting turns, fast straights, top notch facilities and beautiful scenery.

But before cars hit the race track, it was first on Falken Tire’s list to visit the local K1 Speed karting establishment at their Austin, TX location. Falken Tire and K1 Speed invited all karters to come out for their chance not only to meet the drivers, but to race for them. Falken and K1 gave away plenty of swag, but also tickets to the ALMS race.

Always competitive, Bryan got right to coaching members of Team Bryan.

The drivers gave each karter valuable feedback. Here, Wolf his instructing a lucky fan on Team Wolf how best to attack a corner.

The karters lined up, ready to go!

In the end, Team Bryan won the race. Keep an eye out for future race events. You never know when Wolf and Bryan will come to your city and want you on their team!

After the race, Bryan and Wolf stuck around to give away swag, sign posters and take photos with the fans who came out to the event. Thanks to those who made it such a success!

As fans read about in our last blog, the six car incident the Falken Tire Porsche was collected in at the Baltimore Grand Prix critically damaged the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. As soon as the team returned to Indianapolis, they pulled the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR out of retirement from the Walker Racing lobby to make it eligible to compete in the American Le Mans Series again.

The crew worked hard to bring the 2010 up to 2013 IMSA specifications, constantly checking the specs of the car to make sure she fit current regulations.

A peek inside the media center at Circuit of the Americas. Drivers and team personnel were found frequently in random places all over the track, inspecting the new facilities.

In between two of the test sessions, the marketing staff at COTA brought 50 local 5th graders by to meet the team and check out the 17 Porsche. Despite the sexy race car, they were most fascinated with the fact that Wolf’s real name is Wolf.

Jamie Howe of Fox Sports 1 stopped by to speak with Team Manager Derrick Walker regarding the team and important, new information the TV crew could include in the qualifying and race broadcasts.

Clouds circled overhead for every day except race day at COTA. All eyes were on Falken Tire any time rain drops started to fall. It seems no one has forgotten the team’s impressive win in the rain at Mid-Ohio in 2011, and understandably so!  The rain tires continued to impress, finishing third in a soggy practice at COTA.

The team took full advantage of the test days at COTA, trying to get the 2010 car acquainted with the race track again, testing various set ups. Here, Brandon and Dan make rear wing adjustments based on the engineer’s feedback.

Mike decided the team pit cart needed some aero changes.

After several test sessions, the team completed a scheduled motor change. Teams will change the motors of a car several times throughout the season. Anytime a motor is changed after qualifying, the team will start from the back of the grid, which is exactly why the team did it before any qualifying sessions.

Bryan started one of the wet practice sessions as Wolf and Lee watched on from pit lane, waiting for the signal to begin.

After just a few laps, the Porsche pitted. Even though the rain had stopped, the car was quickly covered in mud and dirt. To keep the Porsche looking presentable at all times, the crew immediately gets to work after every session, making sure every logo and body panel is shining.

With the amount of meetings and appearances the drivers have at each race event, simply getting from place to place can be a chore. Bryan and Wolf finally took ownership of their own Falken Tire bikes, which they proceeded to toy with for the remainder of the weekend.

As usual, the drivers made an appearance at the Porscheplatz to speak with members of the Porsche Club of America.

The drivers even stayed behind to take photos with PCA members and sign autographs.

Before one of the practice sessions, Wolf asked for this photo to be taken specifically for his twitter followers. If you’re already a follower of @FalkenTire and @FalkenALMS, be sure to follow @BryanSellers and @Wolf_Henzler too!

Following one of the final sessions, Bryan and Wolf debriefed in pit lane before heading back to the rig to discuss the session with the engineers. We might have to use this photo later for one of our caption contests our twitter fans seem to enjoy so much.

Even when our crew is working, they still take time to speak to the fans. Brandon spoke with this fan for several minutes while emptying fuel from the Porsche following one of the sessions.

How many suits do you go through in one day?

Race day! The Falken Tire Spokesmodels Juliana and Randyl came out on race day to meet with fans, sign posters and give away swag. Be sure to visit them at your next ALMS event!

In between the final warm up and race, Phil Howard held a final team meeting, updating the crew on any important information.  Crew members then had a short time to eat before changing into their fire suits and heading to the grid.

Falken Tire had a lot of friends from Discount Tire in the area, so the team invited them out to the event to check out the team and watch the race. Brad gave them a special tour and showed them around the garage.

As fans waited in line for the driver autographs, the team pushed the Porsche forward for the fans to look at and take photos of.

Bryan as he climbed into the car to begin the recon laps before the pre-race grid.

Randyl and Juliana spent an hour in the hot sun meeting race fans and posing for photos. If you haven’t attended a fan walk yet, you’re missing out. It’s your chance to meet the drivers, see the cars up close, and of course, pose with the Falken girls.

Team Falken Tire lined up on the front straight for the National Anthem and pre-race ceremonies. What a beautiful facility!

Although a series moment, Bryan and Wolf were still relaxed in the final moments before Bryan got in the car.

Hot pits! The crew waited patiently for Bryan’s first pit stop in the 2 hour and 45 minute race.

Race complete, and Brandon, Mo and the rest of the team loaded up the truck. Overall, the team was happy with the 2010 Porsche’s second debut, earning a seventh place finish, the highest finish for a GT Porsche in the event. 

Fan Photos

Our friends at Battery Tender (@BatteryTender) had to stop by and admire the Porsche as she waited in line to enter pit lane to begin the recon laps on race day.

Todd (@cotalocal) stopped by during the autograph session to get his photo taken not only with the drivers but Juliana (@JulianaDaniell) and Randyl (@RandylDawn) as well.

Eric (@EEspin1971) had prime seating on the front straight, right across from Team Falken Tire’s pit box.

Even the Robust Energy (@FeelRobust) girls couldn’t resist to get their photo taken with the Falken Girls!

The Grease Man (@GreaseManPhotog) sent us this photo of the Porsche racing in the sun (a rare sight that weekend).

James (@jameswalker_) couldn’t help but admire our pit lane tent during the downpour on qualifying day. It’s certainly a great place to stay dry!

Mark (@MZimmerman914) was one of many eager to catch the Falken dancing through the corners in the rain.

Stephen (@PapaPorter1) and friends were eager to meet and chat with all of the team members during the autograph session. Falken Tire and the American Le Mans Series have some of the nicest fans in sports car racing.

This is certainly one of our favorite rain photos from the weekend, perfectly captured by Sean (@SeanMP).

The guys at Speed Sport Life (@SpeedSportLife) did a quick drive by to check out the 17 Porsche.

And last but not least, from one of sports car racing’s biggest fans, Vicky (@viclovesracing), tweeted a photo showing some Porsche love as our GT car got prepared to make a pass on a GTC Porsche.

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