This past weekend World Speed Motorsports entered their Mazda RX8 powered sportscar prototype into the Racing Drivers Club 51st Annual four hour endurance race with drivers Renny Damon, Vince Gaddini, and John Olsen. The team had won the event in 2009 when it took place at Thunderhill Raceway, and was looking forward to bringing their one-off custom racing car to Mazda Raceway. Thirty nine cars entered in this year’s event, and a large number of heavy hitters were on the grid such as Memo Gidley, Tom Dyer, Jonathan Bommarito, and Jeff Simmons.
Damon started the race, it was dry but looking ominous, and there was definitely rain on the radar close by, so the team was ready with rains on the grid. Damon ran the entire first stint on slicks, and despite heavy misting he was able to stay out for almost a full fuel load without coming in for tires. “Renny ran a great stint,” stated Team Owner Telo Stewart. “Even in the sketchy conditions he was able to put in solid laps and keep the car on the track and gaining which was a great foundation for the other drivers.”
Close to their first scheduled pit time there was a full course yellow, so the team opted to pit for tires, fuel and a driver change, putting Gaddini in. It was borderline on the tire call at that point but they decided it just wasn’t wet enough for rains. About 20 minutes later the team pitted for rain tires and fuel and kept Gaddini in. “He did a great job of running good consistent laps and working traffic in what turned into heavy rain,” stated Stewart. “He even ended up lapping second place during his stint.”
For what turned out to be the final pit stop, Gaddini who was in the lead brought the car in under green for a driver change. John Olsen was put in and the car got a fresh set of rain tires and a full tank of fuel. “Second place had pitted about two minutes before us and opted to go to slicks,” added Stewart. “We knew the track was going to start to dry since the rain had passed, but we felt that the track was going to be wet for quite a while and that rains were the way to go. When we went back out we were running times between five and ten seconds a lap faster than second place, we were catching them and about to lap them and they spun going into turn ten. Olsen was also able to lap them again, so we knew we made the right call on tires. The entire crew and drivers did a great job, the pit stops were spot on and the drivers stayed on task, and that’s the kind of team work that is required to win an event of this nature.” At the checkered flag the WSM entry was the overall winner, finishing seven laps ahead of the entire field.
The Racing Drivers Club was founded in 1957, and has been integral part of the Northern California road racing scene since inception. The Racing Drivers Club is more than just the sponsor of the annual RDC Illgen Four Hour Enduro held at the end of each season. The RDC is active in its continuing support of Road Racing in Northern California and the the San Francisco Region of the SCCA with many ongoing programs.
John Olsen Race Notes:
“First off, I really have got to thank Damon Racing for the opportunity to co-drive with them in the race. The car was great, and the race strategy was flawless. The rain threw a wrench in the game plan, but the team made a couple of quick calls in the pits that worked out perfectly.
Renny and Vince both did a great job behind the wheel, their performance really made my stint easy, honestly. Renny opened up with a strong stint, and Vince brought the car to me in the lead.
The track conditions for most of the race were pretty dicey, in my stint, the conditions went from bad to worse, to bad again! I just stayed focused on keeping consistent lap times, and conserving fuel and tires. I was able to run my stint without having to make a stop. The entire team from drivers to crew did an excellent job, and the race result reflects everyone’s efforts. Well that’s two in a row, and we’re all already looking forward to next year and going for a three peat!”