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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.

‘SUPERCAR’ CLOSER TO REALITY

By: N.A. on July 26, 2002
Original Article: WAIKATO TIMES

Ford has moved the GT40 project on another stage by naming the four key “supplier partners” who will get this limited-production car on the road.

The new GT40 will debut late next year and go on sale in 2004.

The supercar will be built in limited numbers, a symbol for the American car maker’s upcoming centennial celebrations.

The companies involved as supplier partners are Lear for interior systems; Mayflower with responsibilities for the aluminium spaceframe design, body structure, skin panels and interior trim; Roush Industries, which will develop the powertrain; and Saleen, which already has experience of low-volume niche manufacturing with its own GT cars.

All four supplier partners operate within a 440km radius of Ford’s HQ at Dearborn, and although there won’t be all that many GT40s produced, the whole project, design and build, is being run to a just-in-time schedule.

Ford has its own inhouse team, hand-picked by vice-president for North American product development Chris Theodore.

He’s been thinking about this kind of thing since he joined Ford in 1999, and describes the whole GT40 project as being likely to “teach us valuable lessons about the power of small, nimble product teams and supplier partnerships”.

Other members of the Ford group include people with present or past experience in the company’s Special Vehicle Team, in F1, CART, NASCAR and GT racing. It includes Neil Ressler, at one time involved with Jaguar Racing and recently retired as Ford’s vice-president in charge of advanced engineering and motorsports development, and Carroll Shelby who was hired by Ford to oversee the racing programme of the original GT40, back in 1964.

Design work on the GT40 started in March 2001, the project went into the serious development stage that summer, and the concept car made its debut at the North American Auto Show in January of this year.

It went down a storm, despite some unexpectedly dismissive comments from sections of the media which felt this was just an exhibition job likely to go no further.

There’s no confirmation yet about the final specification, the likely performance figures, the price, how many will be built, or even what the car will eventually be called. But it’s a very serious project.

So, of course, was the original GT40. Henry Ford II’s intention to build a Le Mans winner was announced in 1963, the car was launched to the press in June 1964, and by 1969 it had four successive Le Mans wins to its credit, including a one-two-three in 1966.

Contributed by Doug Nagy, Saleen Motorsports

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Some mixed results from around the world this weekend.

In Speed World Challenge John Young Jr. qualified 9th and finished 5th in the Washington DC round in his Saleen SR.

In Washington DC round of the ALMS series Terry Borcheller and Franz Konrad qualified 3rd and finished 4th after making two stops to the penalty box during the race in the Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7R.

In the British GT championship Thomas Erdos and Ian McKellar qualified on the pole, won the race and set fast lap in the Graham Nash Motorsports Saleen S7R. The team of Tom Herridge and Nathan Kinch finished a close second in Graham Nash Motorsports second Saleen S7R. This race took place at the Rockingham Speedway in England.

S7th HEAVEN

By: MARK VAUGHN on July 2002
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 52, ISSUE 27

But can heaven wait any longer for a Saleen S7 street car?

Yes, it’s a great supercar, how could you expect anything else from the very same chassis, heck, almost the very same car that won the 2001 ALMS GTS championship and a host of other real race titles? No, it’s not as smooth, supple and ergonomically cozy as Ferraris, Lamborghinis or other supercars, far from it. But on tight, winding roads and around racetracks with lots of turns it works better than almost anything you can put a license plate on. It is a race car for the street, and despite all the other carmakers that have come before claiming to have a race car for the street, this one really is.

Or it will be real soon. Before we get to how much fun this is to drive, and it is fun, we have to ask that supercar question that has always plagued supercars: Will the things ever get here? The street versions, that is.

Since the S7’s unveiling at the Monterey Historics on Aug. 19, 2000 (reminder, that year the Historics featured Maserati, as opposed to Bentley last year and Corvette next month), we’ve been given several delivery dates. We’ve been promised and promised like an abused boyfriend in a dysfunctional relationship that S7s would be in customer hands, and-at this writing-still there is none. Well, there is one, the keys of which were handed over to Jerry and Kathy Ritzow of Milwaukee during an elaborate ceremony at Saleen headquarters June 6. But that car and all the other theoretical S7 street cars still hadn’t passed all the certification hurdles necessary to hang a license plate on the back and drive to Taco Bell. When this story went to press the S7 was scheduled to complete its final certification, a cold-start emissions test, on June 22. For your review, here are the promised S7 delivery dates with their accompanying (paraphrased) reasons given us that the cars weren’t done:

  • First date: “The second quarter of 2001.” Reason we got no S7s then: “I meant race cars.”
  • Second date: “Fall 2001.” Reason we got no S7s then: “We were real busy with lots of other stuff.”
  • Third date: “March 2002.” Reason we got no S7s then: “Did I say March?”
  • Fourth date: “July 2002.”

This time for sure! Full production of the street cars will be up and running by the end of July, Steve Saleen promises. He even showed us a flat, empty cement area in Saleen world headquarters that will serve as the assembly line. And if a flat, empty cement area isn’t proof enough for you skeptics out there, well, we can’t help you.

But we know street cars will be coming. How? Because the street S7s are necessary if Saleen wants to keep racing his S7Rs. And he will do darn near anything to keep racing. Saleens are currently banned from FIA GT Cup competition because Saleen hasn’t delivered any street-legal vehicles. The cars carry a weight and restrictor penalty in ALMS competition for the same reason, though the penalty has been lessened recently because Saleen keeps convincing organizers that he really, truly intends to start making street cars. ALMS competitors gripe that while Corvette makes 30,000-plus street cars and Viper over 1000 a year, Saleen has made no S7s other than S7Rs. Saleen says that the Corvettes and Vipers on the racetrack bear precious little resemblance to any Corvette or Viper he has ever seen. The argument continues.

All technicalities when you’re behind the wheel of the “street” S7, which is a major blast to drive.

Oh man.

With unequal-length aluminum A-arms and unheard-of-for-a-street-car tires (Pirelli P Zero 275/30ZR-19s in front and 345/25ZR-20s rear), the car grips like a Hoover vacuum cleaner on a fur ball. The torque band is so flat and wide that the six-speed transmission doesn’t seem to care what gear it’s in. The disc brakes are 15 inches in front and 14 inches in the rear (yikes!), made by Brembo to Saleen specifications. The thing feels like a Group C car or, more precisely, the ALMS GTS car it is.

Here are the facts: The basic layout and almost all the details of the street car are just about exactly the same as the race car. Start with the monster 7.0-liter aluminum-block V8 that is the heart of the whole beast. That engine traces its roots back to big desert racing trucks of SCORE. It has torque, it has horsepower, it has unstoppable growl. In its current form it sits longitudinally just behind the cockpit, putting out 550 horsepower and 520 lb-ft of torque, both at 6400 rpm. The race engine makes 600 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque at the same engine speeds.

The torque comes on low in this two-valves-per-cylinder mill. Each stainless-steel valve is controlled by a hydraulic roller lifter and a roller rocker. The race car gets solid rockers and titanium valves. Both race and street engines are topped with eight vertical air intake trumpets stacked directly on top of the plenum like an old Can-Am powerplant. The heads are CNC-machined aluminum. Pistons are forged aluminum and the rods and crank are forged steel.

The transmission is a six-speed manual mated to a 3.22:1 final drive ratio with a limited-slip differential. The race car uses a viscous differential.

The powertrain is nestled in a 4130 alloy steel space-frame chassis with honeycomb composite panels. The body panels are carbon fiber baked in an autoclave. The whole thing weighs 2750 pounds in street trim, 2530 pounds in race. That gives it an unbelievable power-to-weight ratio of 1:5 in the street car and 1:4.22 in race trim. A Lamborghini freakin’ Murcielago (AW, June 17) is 1:6.93.

Great jumpin’ catfish.

We drove both an S7R on a racetrack and, later, what was described as a pre-production prototype S7 street car in the hills north of Santa Barbara, California. There was little significant difference between the two. The race car had a ride height that put it two and a half inches off the ground while the street car rode four inches above the pavement. The race car had electronics bolted inside the cabin, a racing seat and a racing radio in place of the S7’s finished interior and six-disc CD player, but otherwise there was little difference.

Our turn in the race car was limited to five laps around the Streets of Willow, a tight, curvy track near Edwards Air Force Base in the Southern California desert. We were limited to five laps at Willow both because of time constraints and to reduce the likelihood of smacking the thing up. The race car belonged to Park Place Ltd., which fields a winning team in the ALMS, and they needed it.

It was mighty tight inside for a six-foot-tall driver, but a race car doesn’t need to be spacious; any space in a race car immediately gets the preface “wasted.” The seat and pedals have to be fitted for each driver, and a change-over fitting later in the day for some gangly six-foot-four-inch colleagues took 45 minutes of pedal adjustment.

The engine sounded full-throat blasty at ignition, but with the clutch controlled by non-racer feet, it stuttered out from a stop before opening up nicely on Willow’s short straight. The race car’s 600 horsepower gets lost in its 550 lb-ft of torque. Since it doesn’t come on gradually or hit a sudden peak as it would in a turbocharged or nitrous-fed engine, there’s nothing immediately obvious to compare it to. All that power and torque are just there all the time. It’s a mountain of force. Saleen claims a 0-to-60 time of less than four seconds and a top speed of “200-plus” mph. Murcielago numbers, using a little less power and a lot less mass.

The shifter in the S7R is a quick, race-type box that also takes a few turns to get used to, but shifting seems almost unnecessary with power and torque curves this wide.

In some race cars, sports prototypes for example, the most impressive thing is the brakes, especially if they’re carbon fiber. These brakes are very good, vented aluminum discs 15 inches in front and 14 in the rear, no doubt designed to last 24 hours at Le Mans. But the most impressive thing about driving the S7R was its cornering ability. Pushed hard into a wide, fast turn at Willow, the car just held on like it was entering another dimension. Your body’s not used to that much side force and has to readjust. The Saleen press kit says with ground effects in full use at 160 mph the S7R “could be driven upside down and still maintain contact with the road.” They mean driven like on the roof of a tunnel, not sliding along on its roof, though that would work, too.

The street car was very much the same as the race car. The finished interior was a little nicer, might be more comfortable on a date for instance, but was similar in performance. Our street-car drive being in a prototype meant some quirks were to be expected. The speedometer didn’t work, for one (Saleen says the gauges are made in China and are being sent “by slow boat”), interior trim pieces weren’t connected all the way and the steering wasn’t hooked up. Yes, the steering wasn’t hooked up, at least not properly. That was a bit disconcerting.

When we pointed out what felt like loose steering to a Saleen engineer, he spoke about the very close relationship between racing and the street, about making compromises and finding the right balance of performance and comfort, about many things, none of which had to do with part of the steering not being hooked up. At more than 100 mph, with the car wandering around on the road, we figured maybe the caster was just set for lower resistance or something. At the end of our first day’s drive in the street car another engineer tried it out and said something like, “My God, there’s something wrong with the steering!” We got back in the car a few days later and it cornered almost like we remembered the race car. (Note to self: Don’t say “loose” or “not hooked up” when talking to chassis engineers. Say “broken.”)

On our second drive, Steve Saleen himself was riding shotgun. With the car assembled properly it was a brilliant, if somewhat rattly ride. Though the chassis is rigid thanks to its steel space frame, NVH is not a strong point. It’s not anywhere near as bad as a Consulier, but the Consulier did come to mind. Other beefs: The shifter was recalcitrant about going into first gear at stoplights; the pedals are so close together we drove the street car with bare feet and wished we’d driven the race car that way; and the rear glass, positioned vertically right behind our heads, reflected the oncoming traffic in the rearview mirror, which was terrifying for a little while until we got used to it.

But we could spin the tires off the line and slot through corners all day long. Everything else in front or behind simply dove out of the way. The street car was as much fun as the race car, and that was a lot of fun.

“It’s addictive, isn’t it?” said Saleen.

It is. But at $395,000, it is an expensive addiction. The price, the car’s performance and the wild dimensions of the S7 (it’s 41 inches high, for instance) put it in a very elite class. Cross-shoppers will be looking at Murcielagos, Ferrari FXs and Porsche Carrera GTs. Those guys can afford to cross-shop. And if they’re willing to wait for an FX or Carrera GT, well, why not wait while Saleen gets a factory up and running?

We’d like to be those guys. Except for that part about waiting.

Konrad Motorsports Saleen S7R Looking for Score at RFK Stadium

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 19, 2002 — After two heart-breaking race weekends at Mid-Ohio and Road America, Konrad Motorsports is still looking for its first victory of the 2002 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season at this weekend’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C.

After breaking a half Shaft while racing nose-to-tail with the two factory Corvettes at Mid-Ohio, Terry Borcheller, the 2001 ALMS GTS Drivers’ Champion, was leading both Chevrolets at Road America in the #26 Konrad Motorsports Saleen S7R when his engine expired. He did manage to salvage fastest lap at Mid-Ohio. But he and team owner, Franz Konrad, are looking for a little of Lady Luck Sunday in the 2-hour, 45-minute race on a 1.9-mile, 10 turn temporary racing circuit constructed in the parking lot of RFK Stadium. The race will be televised live nationally on NBC beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT)

Besides Lady Luck, Saleen would also like the ACO restrictions of 10% air reduction and 50 kilos of weight decreased but that likely won’t happen until late August when the 12th Saleen S7 road car is due for completion. Then, hopefully, the Saleen S7Rs will return the their 2001 form when they were recognized as the fastest guns in the west. The first Saleen S7 road car was delivered on June 6th to Jerry and Kathy Ritzow of Milwaukee, Wisc., who had the opportunity to witness Borcheller’s short-lived lead at Road America.

Elsewhere in the unrestricted race world, Saleen S7Rs are piling up victories in a mode similar to last year’s inaugural season when four S7Rs set 27 poles and fastest laps, won 19 out of 32 races and four GTS Drivers Championships in four different series. Racing again in four different series, Graham Nash Motorsports currently leads the British GT and Spanish GT Championships with three Saleen S7Rs, while Park Place Racing is out in front in the Grand-Am Rolex Cup for the second straight year.

In addition, Ford Motor Company announced earlier this week that Saleen would manufacture the production version of the Ford GT40 concept car — the supercar that dominated Ferrari and Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 through 1969.

IRVINE, CALIF., SPECIALTY CARMAKER TO HELP REVIVE FORD’S GT

By: HOLLY WRAY on July 18, 2002
Original Article: ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, THE (SANTA ANA, CA)

Jul. 18–Specialty auto manufacturer Saleen Inc. is announcing today that it will work with Ford Motor Co. and three other auto suppliers to produce a new version of the Ford GT in a revival of a late-1960s muscle car.

Company owner Steve Saleen said he signed on to the project in February, when the first feasibility studies were conducted. Irvine-based Saleen will serve as the operator of the assembly plant, though Steve Saleen said it has not been decided where the work force will come from to build the car.

Other details yet to be announced include price, name of the car, production capacity and vehicle specifications. The development team is working out of Dearborn, Mich., but the site of production has not been decided.

A “dream team” of car enthusiasts and experts — including engineer Neil Hannemann, who took a sabbatical from Saleen to join the project — will spearhead development.

“In order to meet our needs, we had to quickly cut through a lot of the red tape that typical programs have to deal with,” said John Coletti, director of the development team. “The leadership knows what it takes to do a car like this, and we know the right people, who, in turn, know their stuff. We went out and signed them up.”

Saleen has been customizing its own version of the Ford Mustang — stock Mustangs with Saleen parts and accessories — and selling them through Ford dealers for almost 20 years.

A few weeks ago, Saleen delivered its first S7, a Saleen-designed and -manufactured race-type car for street driving, to owners in Wisconsin. Saleen also manufactures racing versions of the Mustang and S7, which compete in the United States and overseas.

Like Saleen’s S7, the production version of the Ford GT is a racer in street clothes. However, Saleen said, the features and price tag of the new model will not be as “extreme” as the $395,000 S7.

STEVE SALEEN
Title: Owner of Saleen Inc.
Age: 53
Residence: Orange County, near Saleen headquarters in Irvine
Education: Business degree from University of Southern California, 1971
Experience: Racing in the early 1970s led to building the first Saleen Mustang and establishing Saleen Autosport in 1984. Saleen’s company has built almost 10,000 Mustangs since and unveiled the S7 in August 2000.
Family: Wife, Liz, and three children, Molly, Clint and Sean.

A LEGEND RETURNS:

Saleen Will Assist with the Ford GT Production

IRVINE, Calif., July 17, 2002 — Saleen, Inc. is immensely pleased and proud to have been selected by Ford as one of the key suppliers to the re-creation of one of the great cars of all time, the production version of the GT40 concept vehicle.

“To have been chosen by Ford as one of four core suppliers to the GT project is a reflection of Ford’s confidence in our niche manufacturing capabilities,” says Saleen, Inc. president, Steve Saleen.

During the past 19 years, Saleen has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to design, engineer, manufacture and market high-performance specialty vehicles working closely with Tier 1 suppliers around the world.

“Our expertise has been primarily focused on high performance,” Saleen continued, “but it’s been diverse as far as the types of vehicles we have produced— everything from Mustang to Explorers to our new S7 supercar.”

Chris Theodore, Ford’s vice president of product development, handpicked the members of the GT Dream Team, including Saleen’s chief engineer Neil Hannermann. “When the Ford GT arrives on the scene, it will set a new standard for supercars,” says Theodore. “And it will teach us valuable lessons about the power of small, nimble product teams.”

The Ford GT project is built for speed—on the road and in the system. The project serves as a lightning rod for consumer excitement and a catalyst for change within the Ford system.

To build the low-volume super, Theodore assembled a team of performance engineering experts, such as Saleen, with the skills to deliver and the knowledge to get things done within Ford while operating outside the established system.

Many of the assembly processes already employed by Saleen to manufacture its Mustangs and S7s will be used for the paint and vehicle assembly responsibilities Saleen will assume for the new Ford GT. The assembly area is where all the various component parts are brought together by certified technicians to create the finished cars.

Saleen brings to the GT project nearly two decades as a high-performance vehicle manufacturer. Based in the creative epicenter and performance capital of the automotive world—Southern California—Saleen has developed a reputation for building enthusiast vehicles and parts that surpass the performance of some of the most expensive and exclusive vehicles in the world. Since its inception in 1984, Saleen has led specialty vehicle manufactures in innovation and quality. Saleen vehicles and parts are built under the same strict governmental guidelines and certification as those of large automotive companies—ensuring safety and emissions compliance as well as quality. As certified with the U.S. Government. Saleen vehicles meet or exceed all applicable EPA/CARB and NHTSA-FMVSS requirements.

Saleen Mustangs are sold only through Saleen-certified Ford dealers and they come with a bumper-to-bumper Saleen warranty. Saleen also has factory pricing and financing.

Steve Saleen began his company with a vision of the perfect performance vehicle that would be appreciated by anyone. Since its inception, Saleen has produced nearly 9,000 vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer.

Today Saleen is housed in a 150,000 square foot building in Irvine, Calif. just down the road from Ford’s headquarters for the Premier Auto Group (PAG). The new office space houses the design, engineering and assembly operations, as well as the corporate offices, customer service center and the parts distribution facility. A seven-time Manufactures’ Champion in GT sports car racing, Saleen’s line of products and services includes Saleen/Allen Speedlab, Saleen Performance Parts, Saleen Composites and Coatings and Saleen Engineering and Certification Service.

From the very beginning, racing has been an important component of the Saleen DNA. “The knowledge we gain from motorsports feeds right back into our performance road cars.” says founder Steve Saleen. “Our customers love performance. Our powerful specialty vehicles are a direct translation of superior racing technology adapted to street use.”

For some manufacturers the terms niche manufacturing and mass customization—creating customized products in an efficient mass-production manner—are new. But they aren’t new to Saleen. The company has been employing these concepts from the very beginning. Unlike so-called “tuners.” Saleen’s team follows the same procedures as mega-manufacturers to certify vehicles in compliance with Federal and State regulations.

Saleen’s latest achievement in crafting niche market vehicles involves the use of best practices components along with specifically-engineered ultra-high performance parts to create the S7. Using its expertise in mass-customization, along with outsourced parts and services as needed, Saleen created the S7 for the exotic vehicle market in less than 18 months. And it is expertise such as this that will allow Ford to achieve its goal of debuting the new GT.

The supercar joins Thunderbird, Mustang and the Forty-Nine concept as part of Ford’s “Living Legends” lineup.

Production capacity, manufacturing location, vehicle specifications, performance numbers, pricing and the name of the production vehicle will be revealed at a later date.

SALEEN S7Rs FACE UP HILL BATTLE IN RETURN TO 24 HOURS OF LE MANS

LE MANS, June 12, 2002 – After quite possibly the finest inaugural race season ever last year, a trio of Saleen S7Rs find themselves considerable underdogs at this weekend’s classic 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Consider this…The new Saleen S7R set 27 poles and fastest laps and won 19 out of 32 races last year, including the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring where they upset the factory Corvettes. At last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Saleen S7Rs set the fastest lap in practice, qualifying (with a record run of 3:52.849 nearly 3 seconds faster than previous) and the race and finished a respectable third in spite of an early race accident.

So why the underdog status?

Per the original ACO regulations requiring the construction of 12 cars, Saleen built 18 chassis including seven racecars prior to the American Le Mans (ALMS) season-opening race at Sebring. In a “rules clarification” the week before Sebring, the ACO advised Saleen that 12 “road” cars would be required thereby imposing a 15% restriction in air and 70 kilos of additional weight on each car. Saleen built another chassis before the
ALMS race at Sears Point only to have one of its crash test cars disqualified from the ACO head count. Saleen now clearly understands that it must build one more car before the restrictions are lifted which the company expects to occur shortly after Le Mans.

“We’re certainly disappointed with the recent rulings,” commented Steve Saleen, president of the Southern California-based manufacturer of high-performance automobiles. “With nearly 9,000 Saleen Mustangs built in the past 19 years, we truly believe that we’ve done everything that the ACO has asked including demonstrating the ability to build 12 S7 supercars per year,” Saleen added. “With our racing success of the past 18 months, it’s a shame that our Saleen S7Rs won’t be allowed to compete on a level playing field. But our focus now is on delivering more S7 road cars to our customers which will automatically eliminate the restrictions in the near future.”

Just last Thursday, June 6, Saleen presented the keys to the first S7 road car to Jerry and Kathy Ritzow of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (see www.RacingPR.com) keeping his promise to deliver the first supercar in the spring of 2002. The proud owners of a Lizstick Red S7 were the very first to purchase the new American supercar after its debut at the Monterey Historic Races in August of 2000. Saleen currently has orders for 50 supercars and plans to begin regular production of one S7 per week at its Irvine, Calif., headquarters this summer.

In spite of the restrictions imposed by the ACO and the “success ballast” that is part of the British GT rules, Saleen S7Rs are seeking to repeat their performance of last year when they won GT Drivers’ Championships in four different series around the globe.

Chris Bingham, the 2001 Grand-Am GTS Drivers’ Champion, continues to rule the Grand-Am Rolex Cup winning three straight races after the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. In a similar fashion, Graham Nash Motorsports (GNM) is dominating both the British GT and Spanish GT Championships with three Saleen S7Rs. Ian McKellar, the 2001 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) GTS Drivers’ Champion, and Tommy Erdos currently lead the British GT with five victories in the first six races, while Pedro Chaves and Miguel Ramos are on top in the Spanish GT.

For the second year in a row, three Saleen S7Rs are entered in this weekend’s classic twice-around-the-clock race through the French countryside. Although very similar to last year’s line up, the drivers have played some musical chairs. Although Ray Mallock sold his ELMS Championship car to Graham Nash recently, the team has an automatic Le Man entry and will borrow GNM’s car, crew and Portugese duo for the race. Chaves and
Ramos will be joined by England’s Gavin Pickering in the #68 Saleen.

Although the driver line up is very similar to last year, the two factory entries will be replaced by two Saleen S7Rs from Konrad Motorsports. Toni Seiler of Switzerland moves over from the second car to assist the team of Franz Konrad of Austria and Terry Borcheller of Phoenix, Ariz., in the #66 Saleen which placed third on the podium last year. Borcheller won the 2001 ALMS GTS Drivers’ Championship driving with Konrad. Charlie Slater of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Switzerland’s Walter Brun will be joined Saleen by Rodney Mall of Riverside, Calif. in the second Konrad car (#67).

CHAMPAGNE RECEPTION ACCOMPANIES DELIVERY OF FIRST SALEEN S7 ROAD CAR

“A Lady in Red” Makes a High-Performance Debut

IRVINE, Calif., June 6, 2002 – At a champagne reception today at the Saleen World Headquarters, President Steve Saleen handed over the keys to “a Lady in Red,” the first S7 road car, the beautiful mid-engine, exotic supercar produced by this American auto maker, to owners Jerry and Kathy Ritzow.

For the past year the S7 has been burning up the road circuits of America and Europe, winning four different GT Championships during 2001, a remarkable feat for an all-new car. And while the S7 continues its winning ways in 2002, and is set for a repeat appearance at the most prestigious endurance race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it placed third in class last year, the key ceremony is the fulfillment of a promise made by Steve Saleen at the very beginning of the S7 project.

“We will race the S7,” Saleen said, “because much of what we have learned about how to make a better performing Mustang for the street came from our racing. We will apply similar lessons from the S7 in competition to the street version we will produce.”

Manufacturing and marketing a fully DOT and NHTSA certified automobile isn’t easy and this is especially true of a small manufacturer like Saleen. But Saleen has been doing just this with his high-performance Mustangs since 1994.

“Some people don’t realize, Steve continued, “that the Mustangs we sell are certified for sale in all 50 states. That’s why the delivery of this car to Jerry and Kathy is such an important step for this company. No one else in America has done what we have done: Start with an initial concept and build a ground-up fully certified mid-engine supercar.”

“Besides being drop-dead gorgeous and offering incredible performance, we believed in Steve’s commitment to the S7 by being the first to put down a $100,000 deposit with our S7 dealer, Motorcars International,” said Jerry Ritzow. He and his wife live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Jerry founded an aquarium manufacturing company in 1967, which has grown to be the largest in the world.

Jerry has always been interested in fast cars, but during the last 10 years the interest has turned into a serious hobby. “Kathy and I both enjoy cool cars,” Jerry says, “and we’ve added a number of them to our collection over the last several years.”

In addition, Jerry has attended a number of racing schools including Buck Baker for stock car racing, Skip Barber for road racing and the Frank Hawley drag racing school.

Obviously, the first of many S7 to come has been handed over to four very enthusiastic and competent hands.

Photo available at http://racingpr.com using the User Name “Saleen” and the Password “Saleen”