Tag Archives: Saleen

LE MANS SERIES BACK FOR ANOTHER CRACK

By: GABRIELLE STEVENSON on July 18, 2001
Original Article: CONTRA COSTA TIMES (WALNUT CREEK, CA)

SAN FRANCISCO-After more than three months away from the racetrack, the American Le Mans Series gets back into action with this weekend’s X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point Raceway.

Four classes of cars-the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) 900, LMP 675, Grand Touring Series (GTS) and Grand Touring (GT) — compete simultaneously in Sunday’s 2-hour, 45-minute endurance race at the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course.

This is the third event on the nine-race series schedule.

Terry Borcheller, who is the current points leader in the GTS class, is happy to be back in Sonoma. He’s been racing at Sears Point on a regular basis since 1991.

“I love this track,” the Saleen/Allen Speedlab team driver said at McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood restaurant Wednesday. “Knowing this track is a bonus because some tracks you can learn over the weekend, and some you can’t. You can’t learn Sears Point (in one weekend). There are not a lot of places to pass, and there are elevation changes.

“I love the challenges of this track. The guys who don’t like the track don’t do well here. Otherwise, most road course drivers really like Sears Point.”

Sonoma’s Kevin Buckler (Porsche, GT class) is hoping he and teammate Tyler McQuarrie will have an advantage over the other drivers. McQuarrie, 25, is a series rookie but has been working at the Russell School of Racing, which is located at Sears Point.

“Tyler knows this track better than anyone,” Buckler said. “We were talking about a corner on the track, and he said, `You know, the one with the patch of cement with the little weed in the middle?’ I had no idea where he was talking about. Tyler is a very smart driver and is doing very well.”

As with every road course race, car setup is going to be one of the top concerns during practice sessions.

“You have to deal with winding corners and a track that can be violently bumpy,” Buckler said. “You have to have a happy medium in the setup. The tires are going to be a big issue too. Especially with the Porsche teams because you have corner after corner and the tires have a tendency to go away (lose tread and grip).”

For the first time in six years, the Trans-Am Series is returning to the Sonoma road course. The Wine Country 100, featuring points leader Paul Gentilozzi and 2000 series champion Brian Simo, will be held Saturday. Qualifying is Friday at 2:20 p.m., and the 100-mile race is set for 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Danville’s Joahnnes van Overbeek (Porsche) also is back at Sears Point and will be competing in the Speedvision World Challenge feature race Sunday.

Practice and qualifying for several race classes start at 8 a.m. Friday. The American Le Mans race is noon Sunday.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at the track, online at www.searspoint.com or www.tickets.com or by calling 800-870-RACE. The cost is $5 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $40 for Sunday, with parking included with each ticket. There also is a three-day pass for $50.

SPEEDVISION TO FEATURE EXTENSIVE SALEEN HISTORY

June 27, 2001 — With a record sales year now in progress and the recent growth of it’s high-performance parts division, Saleen Inc. is enjoying some of the greatest success in its 18-year history.  Fittingly, the Speedvision network and its highly popular “American Muscle Car” television show have assembled a 30-minute history of the company entitled: “Race Bred, The Saleen Mustang Story,” which traces the development of these special cars and their enthusiastic owners.

The show, which airs tonight (Wednesday) at 8:00 p.m. and again tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) at 3:30 p.m., was produced by Toby Murphy and Stan Rarden. Comprised of a narrative history of the Mustang-based Saleen sports cars, including interview with Steve Saleen, Saleen engineering Vice President Neil Hannemann and Saleen club president Debbie Blalock, “Race Bred” traces the high-performance car’s development from earliest versions all the way up to the latest S281 supercharged coupes and convertibles. The SpeedVision feature show also includes a comprhensive look at Saleen’s American supercar, the powerful Saleen S7.

In keeping with the show’s title and Saleen’s distinguished motorsports heritage, the program also includes select racing footage, including coverage of the Konrad/Team Saleen’s stunning GTS-class victory at the 2001 12 Hours of Sebring.

For more information on Saleen — its people and its products — visit the web site at www.saleen.com.

Click here to participate in the discussion.

TARGA RALLY TALLY A RECORD 150 ENTRANTS

By: N.A. on June 22, 2001
Original Article: WAIKATO TIMES

This year’s Dunlop Targa New Zealand rally will be the largest competitive rally held in this country with 150 entries so far.

The six-day tarmac rally is the seventh to be run and will be held from October 23 to 28.

The 2000 event was taken out by Australia’s Craig Dean in a Saleen Mustang with most of the 11 Australian cars that crossed the Tasman acquitting themselves well.

The 2001 Targa, which runs in central North Island, has a mixture of old and new stages over 600km of closed roads and 1300km of touring.

Since the 1999 event the emphasis of the event has changed away from contemporary 4WD cars (only six are accepted), which has brought out a larger number of interesting cars.

Among the entries there is a 1963 Sayer lightweight E Type Jaguar, two ex-group B MG Metro 6R4s from the 1980s, 10 Ford Escorts, both MK1 and MK2 with two being RS1800s from the 1980s, a Mini Cooper powered Mini Marcos, two 1960s Sunbeam Rapiers, several MGBs and a lone Audi Quattro.

Also entered is Robbie Francevic, the charismatic Kiwi who has been winning national and international events since the 1960s. Francevic won the 1967 national championship for sedans in the Custaxie, the inaugural Wellington street race with a Volvo 240T in 1986, and the following year the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship.

Francevic is running in a 1969 Pontiac GTO.

In the more modern categories there are four Mazda RX7 Batmobiles, seven Porsches and seven Peugeots, two Nissan Skylines and the latest Ford Mustang Cobra R. There is also a yet-to-be released 2001 Honda Integra Type R.

Ex-Tasman Motorsport Indy Car Team owner Steve Horne has put to one side his normal management role and is driving the Integra.

Some of the more quirky vehicles include a 1955 Chevrolet Pickup with a 5-litre V8, a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado ute, a Subaru Legacy GT Station wagon and a Ford Anglia with Nissan running gear.

Already entered from Australia are a Tasmanian team in an EH Holden and a MGB Roadster from NSW. Andrew Bryson from Western Australia has teamed up with Kiwi Rootes Group specialist Brian Bradshaw in a Hillman Imp. From Queensland there is a 1970s Datsun H510.

SALEENS S7Rs RACE TO THE FINISH AT 24 HOURS OF LE MANS

LE MANS, June 17, 2001 – ABC’s Wide World of Sports has often suggested that sports involve the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Well, that may be true for athletic adventures that last for less than three hours, some less than ten seconds. But for those participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans the emotions are more of sheer physical and mental exhaustion and the pride of finishing this momentous race.

At Le Mans, while winning is the ultimate objective for any manufacturer, the honor traditionally bestowed to those who finish this 24 hour marathon is timeless. At Le Mans, to finish is also victory.

That is why a few moments after the #1 Audi, the overall winner, crossed the finished line at 4 p.m. on Sunday, those gathered in the Saleen pit suite toasted the drivers and crews of the two Saleen S7Rs to finish the 2002 classic. Last year, the #60 Saleen/Allen Speedlab factory car gained a well-earned third-place podium finish in the Saleen S7R’s inaugural trip to Le Mans, setting the fastest lap en route.

This year, Saleen customer teams took the battle to the two factory Corvettes and a nest of Chrysler Vipers. The #68 RML/Graham Nash Saleen S7R finished fifth in GTS behind the #63 Corvette that won for the second-straight year at the 8.5-mile Sarthe Circuit. The #66 Konrad Motorsport, driven by last year’s podium mates Franz Konrad and Terry Borcheller, was seventh in class in spite of four hours lost replacing a gearbox that was
holed by a stone.

“We’re real proud of the effort put forth by our customer teams this year,” stated Steve Saleen, the creator of the S7R. “They not only had to compete against a well-financed factory effort, but also had to deal with a tremendous handicap imposed by the ACO. We are looking forward to the day that we can compete with the Vettes and the Vipers on a level playing field. We’re sure the result will be quite different.”

All three Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7Rs return to action in the British and Spanish GT Championships both of which they currently lead. The Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7Rs will battle the factory Corvettes in the next rounds of the American Le Mans series at Mid-Ohio (June 30) and Road America (July 7).

EXIDE TECHNOLOGIES NAMED EXCLUSIVE BATTERY SUPPLIER FOR SALEEN S7

EXIDE SELECT ORBITAL THE BATTERY OF CHOICE FOR AMERICAN SUPERCAR

PRINCETON, N.J., June 15 /PRNewswire/ — Exide Technologies (NYSE: EX), the global leader in stored electrical energy solutions, has signed an agreement to supply Exide Select Orbital(R) batteries to Saleen, Inc. Based in Irvine, California, Saleen specializes in the manufacture of high-performance vehicles for street and track; produces and markets a broad line of performance parts; and provides design, engineering and certification services. As a battery supplier to Saleen, Exide Technologies will provide the original-equipment batteries for all Saleen S7 street and racing vehicles.

The agreement calls for Exide Technologies to supply the Exide Select Orbital(R) — the world’s only original-equipment approved spiral-wound lead-acid battery — for use in Saleen’s top-of-the-line vehicles, including the Saleen S7, an American supercar, and the Saleen S7R, the racing version of the S7. Further, Exide Technologies will be an associate sponsor of the Saleen/Allen Speedlab race team starting with the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans event on June 16 and 17. And Saleen will specify the Exide Select Orbital(R) as the preferred replacement battery for all Saleen S7 vehicles.

Saleen offers a full line of consumer vehicles as well as a wide array of parts and accessories designed for improving performance. Saleen’s S281 naturally-aspirated and supercharged models, available as coupes, convertibles or speedsters; the XP8 Performance Utility Vehicle; and the race-bred SR coupe are mainstays of the company’s high-performance vehicle line.

The crown jewel of Saleen’s vehicle lineup is the 2001 S7 supercar, one of the most exotic supercars in the world, capable of speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour, with a zero-to-60 time of under four seconds. The Saleen S7 redefines high-tech and modern racing technology with its 7-liter V-8 engine, advanced suspension system and aerodynamic design.

“We chose the Exide Select Orbital(R) because it is the only spiral-wound, sealed, absorbed glass mat lead-acid battery that has withstood the rigors required for original-equipment certification,” said Steve Saleen, Founder and President of Saleen. “In addition, Exide Technologies supports its products with a high-quality global service network.”

The Exide Select Orbital(R) features a highly efficient design and construction of tightly wound plates that provide unparalleled power among conventional automotive batteries. It holds its charge longer — and has a shelf life three times longer — than conventional batteries. The battery can be recharged in a fraction of the time, has greater power output and resists vibration better than any other lead-acid battery. Because the Exide Select Orbital(R) is completely sealed, it eliminates leaks and spills. It is extremely resistant to vibration, heat and cold and offers greater safety because it contains no free liquid electrolyte and does not produce gas.

“The Saleen signature on a vehicle signifies the state-of-the-art in design, performance, engineering and manufacturing,” said Craig Muhlhauser, President and Chief Operating Officer of Exide Technologies. “The Exide Select Orbital(R) is the only spiral-wound, sealed, absorbed glass mat lead-acid battery in the world that can meet these exacting, high-performance criteria for the Saleen vehicle line.”

Note:
Exide Technologies is the global leader in providing electrical energy storage solutions. The company has operations in 89 countries, serving the industrial and transportation markets.

Industrial applications include network-power batteries for telecommunications systems, fuel-cell load leveling, electric utilities, railroads, photovoltaic (solar-power related) and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) markets; and motive-power batteries for a broad range of equipment uses, including lift trucks, mining vehicles and commercial vehicles.

Transportation uses include automotive, heavy-duty truck, agricultural, marine and other batteries, as well as new technologies being developed for hybrid vehicles and new 42-volt automotive applications. The company supplies both aftermarket and original-equipment transportation customers.

Further information about Exide Technologies, its financial results and other information can be found at www.exide.com .

Media contact: Tim Yost, 734-827-3282; tyost@exideworld.com
Investor contact: Thomas J. Smith, 609-919-4946, tsmith@exideworld.com.

Certain statements in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements as defined by the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. As such, they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results of the company to be materially different from any results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These are enumerated in further detail in the company’s Form 10-K.

MEDIA CONTACTS at LeMans:
Frederic Guyonneau for Exide: 678-361-7321
Jack Gerkin for Saleen: 714-814-9901

MEDIA CONTACTS in U.S.:
James Chew for Exide: 610-698-4458
Tim Yost for Exide: 734-827-3282

INVESTOR CONTACT:
Thomas J. Smith for Exide: 609-919-4946

[SOURCE: Exide Technologies]

FELLOWS PRAISES PIT CREW

By: N.A. on May 29, 2001
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

The Saleens were faster in the pre-qualifying session for next month’s 24 Hours of LeMans. But when it comes to the famed twice-around-the-clock race, Ron Fellows is confident his pit crew will carry the day for Corvette Racing.

“We were a couple of seconds faster than we were last year,” said Fellows, who will be honoured on June 7 as Mississauga’s athlete of the year. “But the Saleens were two seconds faster than us.”

“I’m not that worried, though. I think the Corvette is a faster car. And in the race we’ll have a far superior race team. At (the 12 Hours of) Sebring I think we would have been faster than the Saleens if it were not for the starter motor problems. We were 10 seconds faster than them in our pit stops and that’s a huge edge.”

Fellows will share the wheel with Johnny O’Connell and Scott Pruett. Pruett, a former CART driver who had an ill-fated, one-year run in NASCAR’s Winston Cup series last season, replaces Chris Kneifel, who retired as an active driver to become CART’s chief steward.

ASARO THIRD:
Unionville’s Billy Asaro, who won three consecutive U.S. Formula 2000 series races, settled for a third-place finish in Sunday’s rain-delayed “Night Before The Indy” event at Indianapolis Raceway Park, not to be confused with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Asaro, who qualified seventh, managed to work his way up to third place and a spot on the podium for the fourth consecutive race, but was unable to catch Mexico’s Piero Rodate, who took his first checkered flag. Tommy Constantine of Greece was second.

BURTON CONFIDENT:
“I don’t want to sound facetious or cocky, but it felt normal,” NASCAR driver Jeff Burton said after Sunday’s win in the Coca-Cola 600. “Winning is what Roush Racing is all about.” Burton’s teammates Mark Martin and Kurt Busch were fourth and 12th respectively in the race.

TRIPLE HEADER?
When asked about second-place 600 finisher Kevin Harvick’s tongue-in-cheek plan to run 1,400 miles next Memorial Day weekend (the Grand National race at the speedway Saturday, then the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday), Tony Stewart said Harvick was fit enough to do so. “They just need to keep him out of bars,” Stewart quipped.

INDY FOLLOW-UP:
When Team Penske duo Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran finished 1-2 in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 it marked only the third time teammates have crossed the finish line in that order. The last time was in 1999 when Arie Luwendyk won and Treadway Racing teammate Scott Goodyear, the Toronto native, was second. . . . Castroneves’ victory, following last year’s win by Juan Montoya, marked only the second time in race history that rookies have won in back-to-back years. . . . Scott Sharp was the fifth pole-sitter to finish last. Greg Ray ended up last a year ago after taking the pole. . . . Sharp was only the second pole-sitter not to complete even a lap of the race. The other was Roberto Guerrero. . . . Michael Andretti, who finished third but led briefly, became the only driver to lead the 500 in three different decades.

NEXT FOR CART:
Helio Castroneves and the five other CART drivers who raced in the Indy 500 return to the CART series this weekend with Sunday’s event at the Milwaukee Mile.

NASCAR TOPS:
NASCAR dominated a new ESPN poll measuring fan response to the favourite type of auto racing in the U.S.A. NASCAR won 55 per cent of votes while drag racing, with 12.2 per cent, outdistanced both open wheel (CART – 9.1 per cent) and F1 (3.9 per cent). Drag racing makes its only Canadian national event stop this weekend when the International Hot Rod Association tour visits the Grand Bend Motorplex. More than 30,000 attended the three-day event’s Canadian debut last June.

LATE RACING NEWS

By: N.A. on May 21, 2001
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 51, ISSUE 22

Weaver out at Bentley
James Weaver will not race for Bentley in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. Weaver pulled out of the recent pre-race test day for what the team described as personal reasons, and it will be confirmed this week that the 46-year-old has decided against taking his place in the second Bently EXP Speed 8. Speculation insists that he has expressed safety concerns in the wake of Audi driver Michele Alboreto’s death at the Lausitzring last month, a test at which Weaver was present with Bentley. Weaver is believed to be unhappy that the car is not fitted with tire-pressure sensors. Perry McCarthy appears the most likely replacement to team with Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace. He was on hand at the test day as a so-called reserve but didn’t drive.

Saleen to FIA GT?
Steve Saleen says his Sebring-winning S7R will be produced in sufficient numbers for it to be eligible for the FIA GT Championship next year. But a possible rule change could legislate away any possibility of his radical contender contesting the European-based series. Championship boss Stephane Ratel reckons that the present requirement for 25 road versions of each race car should be increased. “This series should be for high-volume production cars with which the public can identify, so to my mind 25 cars is not enough,” he said. The plan will be discussed in the coming weeks.

Prodrive illegal
Race and rally specialist Prodrive’s new Ferrari 550 Maranello racer has been declared illegal for the FIA GT Championship. The car was meant to debut in last weekend’s Silverstone round, but it was found to contravene the series rules on the eve of the meeting. The new car runs a transverse Xtrac racing gearbox in place of the road car’s longitudinal original, but the rules stipulate that the orientation of the transmission must remain the same. Prodrive insist that only the orientation of the gear cluster has been changed and that the gearbox still runs fore and aft and therefore is legal. A clarification was being sought ahead of this weekend’s round at Zolder, Belgium.

Donlavey taps Simo
Winston Cup team owner Junie Donlavey has hired TransAm Series champ Brian Simo to drive Donlavey’s Ford at Sears Point in June and Watkins Glen in August. Simo will replace Hut Stricklin for those two Cup races. “We’ll be doing some testing prior to the Sears Point race,” Simo said. Donlavey is hoping to get the team’s road-course car ready to test at Virginia International Raceway before Sears.

HARRY DRIVES ‘EM WILD

By: NEIL DOWLING on March 28,2004
Original Article: SUNDAY TIMES, THE (PERTH)

People lust over this car and for good reason. It’s the only one of its type in the state and costs more than $100,000. Neil Dowling reports on a rare import

Harry Martin is used to people admiring his rare car. One day, at a concourse for Fords in Perth, he returned to his display car and found a woman sitting behind the steering wheel receiving stern words from her husband.

“I can’t get her out,” the husband said, “and she says she won’t leave until she gets one.”

She didn’t get one because there’s just one in WA, possibly only one in Australia, and it cost Harry $110,000 six years ago. So she left.

But that’s the attraction of the rare Saleen Mustang or to give it its full title, the S281 Speedster.

“It always draws a crowd because it is a mix of retro and modern, and people clearly see it’s not a Mustang Cobra, even though it’s based on one,” Harry said.

“Once I reckon I spoke to 600 people at one car show. It was great.”

Harry’s passion for the Saleen goes beyond owning a rare car.

When his car goes on show it collects much-needed donations for the Special Air Services’ resources trust, an organization involved in funding community projects such as mobile work camps. Harry heads the SAS Trusts not-for-profit Administrative Training Services Unit.

When the car is on display the trust holds raffles of rare-model Saleen cars signed by the car’s maker, Steve Saleen, as prizes.

“We’ve raised about $11,000 for the trust through car appearances and raffles,” Harry said.

Harry’s charitable example of an S281 is No. 10 of a limited edition of just 100 cars. It is the most popular model of a seven-car line-up produced by the Californian-based specialist vehicle builder, Saleen.

“It has the smallest engine of the V8s but Saleen has worked on it to produce 213kW (285hp) and a 0-100km/h time of only 5.2 seconds,” Harry said. “It is not only quick but I regularly get 11-litres/100km on standard unleaded petrol.”

“That’s a lot better than a quad-cam Mustang Cobra previously sold here through Tickford.”

To create an S281, Saleen buys Mustangs from Ford’s Dearborn factory at Michigan and strips them back in its Californian workshop in Irvine, Orange County.

Parts replaced range from suspension to brakes, body kits to woodgrain trim, and a new engine, differential and exhaust system.

It is numbered, in Harry’s case 9810 for the year of manufacture and its production number, and has flank graphics to bang the point home that this is no Mustang.

It’s unusual for a Saleen to be exported. Harry’s car was converted to right-hand drive in Australia. The high cost of his convertible is attributed mainly to the handmade components used to change it to right-hand drive and the import and state stamp duties.

His purchase was also influenced by the poor exchange rate in 1998. “It would be a lot cheaper to buy one now,” he said.

“Saleens are hard to get hold of and they’re very scare on the second-hand market in the US.”

They also hold their value. Three US magazines, Road & Track, Car & Driver and Motor Trend, rated the Saleen Mustangs as having the highest resale value of seven sports cars, including the Porsche Boxster, Jaguar XK8, Firebird Trans Am and Corvette.

“In this year, my 1998 model has an 84 per cent retained value. That’s pretty hard to beat for a six-year-old car.” Harry’s car may even be worth more. It recently won gold in its class at this year’s 40th anniversary Mustang show held by the Mustang Owners Club.

It looks, and drives, like brand new. The interior is flawless leather, the chromework is unblemished, the Eagle tyres barely show wear and the Laser Red paint mirrors the devotion given to the car.

That it’s covered just 26,000km since Harry bought it also improves its value and appeal.

“It’s my job,” he said of the low odometer reading. “I’m away 260 days of the year, so I don’t get to drive it as often as I want.”

The mesh-covered intake holes in the front spoiler and on the flanks seem to be for aesthetics.

“No, they’re for real,” Harry says. “The front ones lead to ducting to cool the front brakes and the intakes on the side, behind the doors does the same thing for the rear brakes.”

In the flesh it looks great. Smaller than the specifications indicate but well-balanced and distinctive.

“If it wasn’t as fast as what it is, I’d still have bought it,” he said. “It’s just a great car to drive.”

“At 110km/h that engine is only spinning at 1800rpm in fifth gear. Generally, I’d only use up to third gear, sometimes fourth, on a drive.”

This weekend Harry leaves to again visit the Saleen factory and catch up with a few good Ford guys, including racer and Cobra originator Carroll Shelby.

He may even have a look over the Saleen S7.

“I wouldn’t sell my car. Well, perhaps for an S7,” he says, of the purpose-built Saleen racer. “Maybe an SR. No, no. I’d only sell my car for the S7.”

specs
Saleen S281 Speedster
Price: about $120,000
Engine: 4.6-litre, V8, SOHC, 16-valve
Power: 213kW @ 5100rpm
Torque: 449Nm @ 4100rpm
0-100km/h: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 260km/h
Fuel: Standard unleaded
Fuel tank: 59 litres
Fuel economy: 11.5-litres/100km
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Drive: Rear
Suspension: Front — MacPherson struts, variable-rate springs; Rear
— live axle, four-link, variable-rate springs on trailing arms,
four gas shocks
Brakes: 4-wheel discs, ABS
Wheels: 17-inch alloys, 245/45R17 tyres
Spare tyre: Full size
Length: 4630mm
Width: 1828mm
Height: 1305mm
Track: Front — 1493mm; Rear — 1538mm
Wheelbase: 2533mm
Weight: 1645kg

FELLOWS HOPES CORVETTE TAKES REVENGE AT LE MANS

By: N.A. on March 20, 2001
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Ron Fellows wants another shot at the competition he calls “the thing” and this time with a healthy Corvette C5-R.

But he’ll have to wait until June 16-17 when he crosses the pond to France for the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The “thing” is the U.S.-funded, British-built Saleen S7R, a newcomer to the American Le Mans series, which will also contest the event, after which the U.S. series run by Don Panoz is named.

The Saleen beat the Corvettes for the first time this season in the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.) to capture the GTS class. A prototype Audi won the overall race.

While he concedes that the Saleen is “pretty fast,” Fellows doesn’t believe it belongs in the GTS class.

“But it’s there and so we have to figure out a way to beat it,” said the Mississauga native. “There’s nothing like a challenge.”

Fellows attempt to beat the Saleen at Sebring was hampered by a faulty starter motor which had to be changed twice during the race and cost the team 10 laps.

Fellows knows both he and the second Corvette, which finished second in the class at Sebring while Fellows was third, will have their work cut out for them at Le Mans.

“It’ll have a big advantage at Le Mans because it’s narrower and lower and it’s a proper race car,” he said. “It looks a lot like the Porsche GT1. It sure looked like it in my rearview mirror and following it, too.”

CYCLING FATALITY:
The auto racing world is mourning the death of champion driver Bob Wollek who was killed when he was struck while riding his bicycle near Sebring International Raceway last Friday.

He was in Sebring for the 24-hour endurance race on Saturday, which he won in 1985.

The 57-year-old native of Strasbourg, France, won the 24 Hours of Daytona four times and two class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year, he won five American Le Mans Series events.

Wollek was riding his bike near the track late in the afternoon when he was hit from behind by a car. The accident is still under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

RETIREMENT SUPPORTED:
Readers of the U.S. racing publication AutoWeek 69 per cent in favour of NASCAR breaking with tradition and retiring the No. 3 of legendary Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in a crash during last month’s Daytona 500.

Even many among the 31 per cent opposed to retiring the number expressed the view that removing the number from view on the track would cause people to eventually forget Earnhardt’s contributions.

SUPER SUB:
Oakville’s Kenny Wilden, substituting for injured American driver Leighton Reese, finished a strong third in Trans-Am Series 100, a support event of the 12 Hours of Sebring, this past weekend.

Wilden, driving the Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette, passed Johnny Miller’s Jaguar XKR on lap 26 to gain a spot on the podium behind winner Boris Said and runner-up Paul Gentilozzi.

CART GRADS:
Brazilian Tarso Marques, whose top finish in 17 CART races last year for Gerald Forsythe Racing was seventh in the final race of the 2000 season on the California Speedway super oval, finished 14th in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Two former CART champions, Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Montoya, both failed to finish the race.

FORD-POWERED SALEEN S7R INTO PRODUCTION

By: LARRY ROBERTS on March 6, 2001
Original Article: www.theautochannel.com

Apparently the fortunes of Steve Saleen and his small Southern California car building company are getting better all the time. You might recall that Saleen is the sports car enthusiast-turned-builder who has made his mark in the automotive world as the producer of a line of “sporting” vehicles that have ranged from small trucks that raced in the old SCCA mini-truck road racing series to a line of sports cars that bear the Saleen name.

In truth, all the cars were modified Ford products, the most notable being the various Ford Mustangs that he customized until they were hardly recognizable. Some may dismiss this concept of modifying a currently produced vehicle from a large auto maker and attaching the modifiers own name and logo, but we need only point to the products of Shelby America. Carroll Shelby made his name and reputation on modifying British AC Ace roadster and Ford Mustangs and calling them Shelby Cobras and Shelby GT 350 coupes.

Steve Saleen has followed in the 35-year old footsteps of Carroll Shelby and has gone into production of Ford-powered exotic “supercars” of the same genre of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Lotus. The Saleen S7 was developed from a clean sheet of paper and unlike other Saleen products, uses only proprietary parts such as a Ford twin-cam engine.

But Saleen has also taken a page from Shelby’s book on automotive success and is producing a professional endurance racing sports-racer to compete in national and international events. To that end Saleen’s racing department, Saleen Allen Speedlab, has developed a racing version of its S7 exotic, the S7R, to be campaigned as a “production” car in the various classes in a plethora of sanctioning bodies. Originally the drivers for the factory team were to consist of the multi-national team of Tom Kendall, Oliver Gavin, Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnston driving a single car. The S7R is classed with cars such as the factory-entered Chevrolet Corvette C5R, recent winner of the Daytona 24 hour race, the all-conquering Oreca Dodge Vipers and a half-dozen other brands.

But now Saleen reports that he has contracted to build S7R race cars for so many independent teams that his own effort will have to be delayed. The first of these “privateers” is Paul Gentilozzi, two-time national champion in the SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am series. Gentilozzi drove his Rocketsport-entered S7R at the Rolex Daytona 24 Hour race and while his qualifying times were as good as any in the class, the car went out after 50 laps with undisclosed mechanical problems.

Saleen had planned to prove his S7R in competition and then sell five or six replicas to “privateers” after the 24 Hours of Le Mans race this coming June. But orders up front have taken precedence and his efforts will be concentrated on the orders at hand, some of which are planned to compete at Le Mans by their new owners.

And what could be sweeter for a race car builder than to have customers waiting in the wings to drive a yet unproven machine.

We’ll have to wait and see.