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News from Daytona

RCR Capture 2nd and 9th

Daytona, FL, January 31, 1999 - A race prepared Porsche 911 RSR driven David Murry from Lilburn, GA, Grady Willingham of Birmingham, AL, Johnny Mowlem of Berkshire England, and Joel Reiser of Mendon, NY surprised a large field of entrants with a 2nd place in the GT3 class, finishing 9th overall. This was the Metamor/BBS/ Castrol/Lions/Yokohama/Elf Porsche 911 team's first attempt at the classic 24 hour race at Daytona International Speedway. Their success is all the more extraordinary given that the GT3 class, with 33 starters, is so highly competitive.

The Reiser Callas team fielded two cars: a white RSR numbered 02, and a red RSR #92. The 37th running of this grueling endurance race started at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, January 30th, and finished 24 hours later at 1:00 p.m. Sunday. At the start, there were 78 cars, including two Riley & Scott prepared Ford Mark 3s, several Ferrari 333 SPs, two General Motors sponsored Corvette C5-Rs, two Chrysler sponsored Viper GTS-Rs and dozens of privately entered Porsches, BMWs, Lotuses and other exotic racers. During qualifying, the 92 development car of Reiser Callas Rennsport qualified 63rd in only one lap with just a few minutes to spare. It looked like it would be an early contender after slicing through the field, but then retired from the race after only 11 laps with problems in its prototype suspension. David Murry qualified the 02 car on the 42nd spot in a grid of 78 starters with a time of 1:58.006, at 108.6 mph. This meant that the 02 had qualified only one-second slower than the team to beat: a brace of Prototype Technology Group Yokahama/BMW M3s, who had dominated GT3 last year.

Two other well prepared M3s and 30 other Porsches and Ferraris challenged for the GT3 trophy, the most competitive class with only three seconds separating the first ten qualifiers. The 02 car proved more reliable than the development car, and soldiered on to complete a total 632 laps of the 3.8 mile course. Only two other Porsches finished ahead of the 02 car: the GT3 first place Alex Job Racing 911 (6th overall, 639 laps) and the GT2 first place car: Roock Racing's 911 (7th overall, 634 laps). The Reiser Callas Rennsport 02 came in ahead of Larry Schumacher's Porsche 993 Twin Turbo 2nd place GT2 (626 laps) and ahead of the G&W Motorsports 911 RSR which took 3rd in GT3 (625 laps). The 3rd place finisher in GT2 and 18th overall was one of the factory Corvettes, #2 (as different from #02).

At the finish the four man driving team had clawed their way from 42nd on the grid to 9th overall, driving at an average speed of 94 mph for twenty-four hours, including stops for fresh tires, brake pads, fuel and driver changes. By race's end the team had driven 2,250 miles, and the number 02 was posted as a top-ten finisher in the Daytona International Speedway's scoring tower.

Reiser Callas Rennsport is owned by Mendon's Joel Reiser and run by Anthony
Callas of Los Angeles.

The Rolex 24 hour sports car race is unique in America. Its only equivalent is the 24 hour endurance race that takes place every year in France. This year's twice-around-the-clock race is the thirty-seventh, and among its more than 200 competition drivers from all over the US and 17 countries are found Hurley Haywood, Danny Sullivan, Hans Stuck, Elliot Forbes Robinson, Jimmy Vasser, Ron Fellows, Max Papis, Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyck, Didier Thies and many other world class drivers. The weather had been perfect at the start of the race with 72 degrees and partly cloudy skies. It remained calm during the night but at 8:30 Sunday morning a cold front blew in from the Atlantic bringing heavy downpours until about 11:30. This caused pit crews for the 42 remaining competitors to switch from racing slicks to rain tires, and back again as the track dried and became wet yet again with intermittent downpours.

The crews, overtired and sleep deprived, tried to outwit each other sacrificing precious minutes with tire and driver changes in anticipation of constantly changing track conditions. Unlike these races in the past, endurance races of 6, 12 and 24 hours in length have become all-out efforts where racers drive each lap as if qualifying, but in heavy traffic. The engines strain at their redlines, the drivers brake at the last possible instant, lap after lap, hour after exhausting hour. At nightfall, the track takes on a surreal look as drivers turn on multiple driving lights to pierce the gloom. Some drivers, with a sense of humor or hopes for sponsorship, sport mini-neon signs and colorful trick lighting on their vehicles. Their decals are fluorescent and show fantastic shapes under flash photography. Driver competitiveness is amply demonstrated going into the first hairpin turn in the infield as brake rotors glow red hot.

This year's overall winner was car number 20, a Riley & Scott built, Ford powered Can Am car with ten times more computing power on board than a moon shot. This was one of two cars owned by Rob Dyson of Pleasant Valley, NY. Having won the same event in 1997, Dyson Racing beat back a constant challenge from several Ferrari 333 SPs driven by sports car veterans like Alan McNish, Wayne Taylor and Stephan Johanson.

Reorted by:
Luis A. Martinez Membership Chair

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