All posts by Jim Dvorak

Managing Director of SOEC since 2005. Veteran of the Southern California automotive scene. Involvement with Saleen dates back to the mid 1990s.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Monday, October 28, 2002

This last weekend only had one Saleen competing.

John Young and Apex Racing were at VIR in Virginia for the Speed World Challenge final round.

John qualified on the front row only .025 seconds off of the pole due to a slight miscue on his qualifying lap. He traded the lead several times and finally took the lead for good on the second to last lap. He won the race by a margin of .44 seconds over second place. This win, combined with some poor results by other competitors, moved John to fourth in the final points standings. This is an excellent result for a driver in this series in his rookie year. John had already clinched the Rookie of the Year award at the previous round at Road Atlanta.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The last two weekends have been busy for teams racing Saleens.

Over the October 4-6 weekend in Miami, Graham Nash Motorsports S7R qualified sixth and finished sixth after brake problems caused by a sticking throttle cable during the race. The second GNM S7R crashed during practice and could not make repairs in time for the race. Konrad Motorsports S7Rs qualified on the pole with the #26 car and did not make qualifying with the #25 car as it was damaged during practice when it hit the wall. The #26 car finished 8th in the race with a failed clutch while the #25 car finished sixth.

The October 9-12 weekend at Petit Le Mans took place at the Road Atlanta circuit. Konrad Motorsports qualified third with #26, and ninth with #25. The #26 car led early and for most of the first hour before having mechanical problems that cost considerable time in the pits, finishing sixth in class. The #25 car also had lots of small mechanical problems and several off-course incidents that dropped it back to fifth in class.

Graham Nash Motorsports qualified fifth with #84 and tenth with #83. The #84 suffered with engine problems in the warm-up and was not able to take the green flag. The #83 car suffered from several small problems that kept it from running to its full potential and only finished eighth in class.

The same weekend at Atlanta the Speed World Challenge ran with Apex racing qualified in eighth on a set of inconsistent tires. During the start of the race John was caught up in an incident between two other cars and was put in the gravel trap. He lost a lap while being extracted and finished the race in 13th one lap down. John has now clinched the rookie of the year title with one race remaining. With a good finish and some luck he may be able to edge back into the top five in points championship.

The Spanish GT championship was awarded this weekend in the next to last round in Jerez, Spain. The pole was set in the Graham Nash Motorsports Saleen S7R with Pedro Chaves and Miguel Ramos driving. They won the race and set fast lap on their way to the podium. This gives them the driver’s championship and Miguel has won the Amateur Standings championship for their efforts this year.

The next race is the World Challenge finale in Alton, VA the weekend of October 25-27.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Monday, September 23, 2002

This weekend was busy for Saleens around the world.

In Spanish GT, the Graham Nash Saleen S7R qualified on the pole for both races, and with 65 second success penalties in each race finished Second in both races. The drivers Miguel Ramos and Pedro Chaves have increased their lead in the driver’s championship points. The next race is October 11 in Jerez, Spain.

In ALMS at Laguna Seca, Terry Borcheller qualified second in the Konrad Saleen S7R. They finished second in the race and Terry was short of the fast lap of the race by only one tenth of a second. This should move Terry to 5th in Driver’s points in GTS. The next race is in Miami the first weekend of October. There will be four Saleen S7Rs at this race.

In the Speed World Challenge at Laguna Seca John Young Jr. qualified 10th with an engine problem in his Saleen SR, and battled his way to sixth in the race with a less powerful back up engine. John was awarded the Rogaine Hair Raising Pass of the Race award, and extended his lead in the rookie of the year points standings. There are two races left in the season with the next one being at Road Atlanta in three weeks.

In the British GT Championship, Tommy Erdos won the Top Gun Championship for most pole positions of the year and Graham Nash Motorsports won the Team Championship. The Driver’s Championship was clinched last weekend by Tommy Erdos and Ian McKellar. Saleen S7Rs qualified 1st and 3rd and Tommy and Ian finished second after an unscheduled stop for a damaged tire. The second Saleen S7R had an incident on the first lap and did not finish the race.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Monday, September 16, 2002

This weekend Graham Nash Motorsports ran in the British GT with 2 Saleen S7Rs at Thruxton in England.

Tommy Erdos and Ian McKellar qualified second and won the race clinching the Driver’s Championship for Tommy and Ian as Co-Champions. Robin Liddell and Justin Law qualified third and finished second to give Graham Nash a 1-2 finish with S7Rs this weekend. The last race of the year for British GT is next weekend at Donington and the team will be trying to win the Team and Top Gun Championship for most pole positions this year.

In Mont Tremblant, Canada this weekend the TF Racing team qualified third after working all night to rebuild their car after a fire. They retired the car after 5 of the 6 hours of the race in third place. Saleen currently leads the manufacturer’s points in GTS and Chris Bingham has clinched the Driver’s Championship in GTS. Chris won the championship driving an S7R this year. He is also 2001 Driver’s Champion, making this a back to back championship for Chris and Saleen.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

This weekend Graham Nash Motorsports raced at Snetterton in the British GT series. Tommy Erdos and Ian McKellar qualified the Saleen S7R in second position and finished the race in second spot. Robin Liddell and Nathan Kinch qualified in fourth and finished in First, and Robin Liddell set fast lap and a new lap record on the way to the front.

The TF Racing/ Zippo Saleen SR qualified sixth and finished eight in a rain soaked weekend at VIR in the Grand Am Cup series.

WILD HORSES: SALEEN S7S, MODIFIED MUSTANGS

By: GERRY MALLOY on August 31, 2002
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Supercar, Muscle Car Combo Drives Early Racing Success

Steve Saleen stunned the automotive press at the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca when he not only announced that he was going into the supercar business, but unveiled a sleek prototype.

That was two years ago. Much has happened since.

The high-performance, mid-engined supercar is the purest form of the modern automobile.

Exemplified by such exotica as the Ferrari F50, Lamborghini Murcielago and McLaren F1, it is a barely tamed race-car, adapted for use on the street.

Predominantly a product of Europe, the genre has been the subject of numerous North American concept cars. The few attempts that have been made to build and market such cars on this continent have ended in ignominy.

Saleen aims to break that pattern. If anyone outside the Big Three can do it, he is probably the one.

He is already well on his way. When I visited the Saleen assembly plant in Irvine, Calif., his fabricators were working on chassis number 19 in the company’s S7 lineage.

Not only does he have the facilities and expertise to achieve his production goal of 15 to 20 vehicles a year, he has the critical mass to support it; he is also building 20 Saleen Mustangs a week in the same plant.

Total production of those highly modified Mustangs has approached 10,000 units over the 19 years since he began the business.

Saleen himself is a racer at heart. He competed in everything from autocross and Formula Atlantic to Trans-Am and Indy cars.

He is a businessman, with a degree from USC and a flair for promotion. He is the most successful private North American auto manufacturer in modern history.

Because most of his creations are Mustang-based, many regard Saleen as little more than a tuner. But the changes he makes to the Mustangs are such that the cars must be individually certified for both emissions and crash-test performance.

So Saleen’s operations are afforded full-fledged manufacturer status.

Everything about his 14,000-square-metre plant, located in the heart of California’s aerospace and automotive community, supports that designation.

The Mustangs are disassembled as they arrive from Ford, then they go on dollies through a 13-station assembly line, each with its own team and tasks, for reconstruction.

Saleen supplies three body styles: coupe, roadster and speedster for each of three models, designated S281, S281 Supercharged and S281-E.

The number 281 derives from the displacement, in cubic inches, of the Ford 4.6-litre SOHC V8 that serves as a base for modification.

In S281 trim, the Saleen engine is rated at 285 hp. Adding a supercharger bumps that figure to 365, and the E-model raises it again, to 425 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque – which is delivered through a six-speed, quick-ratio manual gearbox.

Suspension, drivetrain, brakes, interior, wiring, front and rear fascias, hoods, and, in some cases, even external body panels, are replaced by Saleen-designed and, in many cases, Saleen-produced components.

Many of the cars are fitted with full roll cages.

A separate finishes-and-composites division, soon to be integrated into the main plant, is responsible for manufacturing many of those parts, and for finishing them and the cars themselves in a range of exclusive and evocatively-named Saleen colours, including Lizstick red, named for his wife.

The combined operations employ more than 150 people, including a support team for Saleen-owners’ many racing efforts.

The success of Saleen’s Mustangs on the track have pushed him and his cars into the limelight, and supported the success of the manufacturing business..

The real excitement these days lies on the other side of the shop in the eight race-car bays where the exotic S7s and S7Rs (the racing versions) are assembled.

Developed with Ray Mallock, a British race- and specialty-car builder of considerable repute, the original protype supercar was as stunning as its Laguna Seca announcement.

Long and low, with the engine amidships and air vents everywhere (every one with a purpose, Saleen says), its silhouette showed the influence of cars such as the Jaguar XK 220 and Lamborghinis and Bugattis.

But it had its own distinctive form.

It remains powered by a 7.0-litre, OHV V8, which had its genesis as a Ford service-parts aluminum racing block, but is now all-Saleen.

The engine is rated at 550 hp at 6400 rpm, and 525 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm – more in racing trim, and more than enough to make it a supercar.

Just as impressive are the rest of its credentials, which resonate pure race car: lightweight tubular-steel space frame with aluminum honeycomb structural panels; carbon-fibre body panels; double-wishbone front-and-rear suspensions; six-speed transaxle; and gigantic Brembo brakes.

Some members of the automotive press, who had seen such hopes raised and dashed before, dismissed the idea as a publicity stunt or a dream.

Saleen made believers by fielding a racing version of the prototype – which showed considerable promise – before the end of the year.

In 2001, an S7R won the 12-hours of Sebring, beating GM’s Corvette C5-Rs, qualified on the GTS class pole and finished on the GTS podium at Le Mans, and propelled lead driver Terry Borcheller to the ALMS GTS driver’s championship, beating out Ron Fellows (who’s dominating this season).

Saleen S7Rs won four separate championships in Europe and North America in their first full year.

Some people, Saleen says, have suggested that he is in the production car business just to support his racing habit – a motivation Enzo Ferrari openly admitted. But he claims it is the other way around; he races to support his production car business.

The production cars reflect this. They have high quality materials throughout, impeccable workmanship and a host of premium features, including a custom-fitted driving seat, an integrated DVD/GPS/TV/NAV-system, and custom-fitted luggage by Mulholland Brothers.

Would you expect less for US$395,000? Automobiles Bugatti of Montreal has been appointed Canadian distributor for the S7, which, Saleen says, will comply with all Canadian regulations, but price and delivery details have yet to be determined.

FELLOWS HEADS TO TOP OF HIS CLASS

By: RICK MATSUMOTO on August 19, 2002
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Mississauga Native Overcomes Qualifying Setback At Mosport

Ron Fellows put the previous day’s qualifying disappointment behind him before climbing into his car for the Grand Prix of Mosport yesterday at Mosport International Raceway.

When he slipped out through the window of his Corvette C5-R nearly three hours later, the 42-year-old from Mississauga was all smiles.

Fellows and co-driver Johnny O’Connell sailed to their fifth GTS class victory in seven outings this season. Fellows had roared past Saleen driver Terry Borcheller, who had taken the class pole Saturday, by the time the field made its way through the second corner of the 2.5-mile circuit.

Fellows’ frustration came after he failed to nail down what would have been a series record 14th pole.

“That sort of pole record would be kinda nice to have and we’ll eventually get it,” he said. “But that’s just one lap. What counts is winning the race. This is great here at home.”

Borcheller’s team was never a serious threat in the American Le Mans Series race.

“He was gaining a little bit on me, and maybe thinking of somewhere to pass,” Fellows said. “But he’d catch traffic and we were able to pull out a little bit of a gap again. He never got close enough to make a pass.

“We got a real good start and that was the key. He wasn’t as quick early as I thought he would be.”

Fellows handed off to American O’Connell during the first pit stop an hour into the race. An hour later they switched places again and Fellows brought the car across the finish line first in the class and seventh overall.

“Johnny got in the car for us and Franz Konrad (Borcheller’s partner) got in the car for them and Johnny was faster than Franz,” Fellows said. “That was the difference. He was able to put him a lap down.

“We also gained 30 seconds in our (first) pit stop. That was incredible.”

Borcheller and Konrad finished third in the class.

O’Connell said he was determined to make up for their loss two weeks earlier at Trois-Rivières, Que. to the second Corvette team of Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins, which finished second yesterday.

“We had a good stop so we gained some time there, but I was pushing real hard,” O’Connell said. “I still felt bad about not winning at Three Rivers. So I wanted to make a statement.”

Fellows also applauded his team’s decision to use a hard tire compound.

“The guys made a great call,” he said. “It was the way to go. It was the highest track temperature we had seen in the three days. We were slipping and sliding, but you could run hard the whole time.”

It was a day that the Audi Prototype 900 team of Frank Biela and Emmanuele Pirro would just as soon forget.

Just seven minutes into the race, Biela, who had gained the overall pole for the team on Saturday, gave up the lead to the second Audi factory team car driven by Rinaldo Capello.

Their day, and any chance of catching Capello and co-driver Tom Kristensen, ended when Pirro crashed at Turn 8 47 minutes from the end of the race. Pirro, who was running second to Kristensen at the time, lost consciousness. He was awake when transported to hospital, where he was kept for observation.

The third Audi team of Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johanssen finished second overall, followed by the Cadillac Northstar LMP of JJ Lehto of Finland and Max Angelelli of Italy.

Hillsburgh, Ont. native Melanie Paterson and veteran Vancouver driver Ross Bentley finished second in the Prototype 675 class and 16th overall.

Kevin Buckler and Brian Cunningham, both Americans, took the GT class and were 13th overall.

SALEEN S7Rs PODIUM ON TWO CONTINENTS:

FIRST IN ENGLAND & THIRD IN CANADA

IRVINE, Calif., August 18, 2002 — Saleen S7s were sighted around the world this past weekend, including a Lizstick Red road version at Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise and a Speedlab Yellow supercar at Concourse Italiano and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Four other Saleen S7Rs were busy with their assault on several sports car championships on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

In spite of a terrific downpour at Oulton Park, Graham Nash Motorsports’ team of Brazilian Tommy Erdos and Brit Ian McKellar continued to dominate the British GT Championship with a victory yesterday. The duo has been on the podium eight out of nine races this year winning an amazing seven of them. McKellar was the 2001 European Le Mans GTS Drivers’ Champion and one of the teammates is certain to win the British GT Championship this season.

Not quite as lucky has been the Konrad Motorsports’ team of Terry Borcheller and team owner Franz Konrad in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). In spite of Borcheller being the “fastest gun in the West” by claiming most of the GTS poles last year and finishing is the 2001 ALMS GTS Drivers’ Champion, the car has been hampered by an ACO imposed restriction that has reduced performance by approximately 100 horsepower.

So it was a huge surprise to everyone, especially Corvette driver Ron Fellows who was going for his seventh-straight pole, when Borcheller pulled off a record breaking time of 1: 15.xxx in Saturday’s qualifying session. “That one belongs to the Pirelli guys who raced back to their transporter during the session and re-balanced the wheels for me and let me set that flyer just as the checker fell,” commented Borcheller. “We’ve been struggling all year with that restriction and the pole and our third-place podium finish felt real good.”

The next race for Konrad Motorsports will be at Laguna Seca on Sept. 22 live on NBC-TV. There is some hope that the ACO will lift the restrictions by then and Borcheller and Konrad will be allowed to race the Corvettes and repeat their victory of last season at the beautiful Monterey Coast circuit.

SALEEN S7 TO APPEAR AT WOODWARD DREAM CRUISE

A Celebration of Cars, Music and Cruising Oldies

Birmingham, Mich., August 16, 2002 — The first road going Saleen S7 mid engine supercar will make an appearance at The Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday, August 17, 2002.

The mid-summer Woodward Dream Cruise is a celebration of the cars, the music and the memories of cruising in the Fifties and Sixties on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, the city that put America on wheels.

The Lizstick Red S7 will be on display along with five specially painted Saleen Mustangs for the cruise and a collection of legendary Saleen Mustangs from the Saleen Owners and Enthusiasts Club at the Saleen/Jerome-Duncan Ford hospitality area located at Papa Joe’s Market, 34244 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, Mich. 48009 (east side of Woodward just South of Maple). Cars will be on display from 7am to 11pm.

The Saleen S7, America’s first true supercar, competes with the fastest, quickest, best handling and most exotic sports cars in the world. It is designed, engineered, manufactured andmarketed by Saleen, Inc., a high-performance vehicle manufacturer headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

The S7 is powered by Saleen-designed all-aluminum 7Iiter V8 generating 550 horsepower at 6400 rpm and delivering 520 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm. And in true supercar fashion, the S7 is capable of speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour, with a zero-to-60 time of less than four seconds.

The Lizstick Red Saleen S7 at the Woodward Dream Cruise is owned by Jerry and Kathy Ritzow of Milwaukee, Wisc. , who will be special guests of Saleen for the weekend.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Monday, August 12, 2002

The weekend of the 1-4 of August Saleen customers raced in Trois Rivieres, Canada.

Konrad Motorsports drivers Franz Konrad and Terry Borcheller qualified third and finished sixth after losing an engine in their S7R. John Young Jr. and Apex Racing qualified seventh and finished fourth in a close race in which John missed the fast lap of the race by less than 2 tenths of a second. John was driving his Saleen SR in the Speed World Challenge.

The following weekend Konrad competed under the Park Place entry with Chris Bingham and the Bully Hill 250 at Watkins Glen. Chris qualified on the pole, set fast lap and the Konrad Saleen S7R finished first in class and eighth overall. The next day (Saturday) the Zippo/ TF Racing Saleen SR finished third in the Grand Am cup race at Mid Ohio race course. This race was a support event for the CART Mid Ohio round.