ORANGE COUNTY, CA. — (National Distribution) August 8th, 2008.
O’Connell Racing (OConnellRacing.com), a southern California based Grand-Am Rolex Series and NASCAR road racing team announced the closure of a disappointing weekend for the team. Intending to run both scheduled races with the Rolex Series on Friday and the NASCAR Nationwide series on Saturday it was apparent early that this weekend would be full of challenges. In practice for the Rolex Series on Thursday driver Kevin Roush ran the car for several laps and routinely brought the car in declaring that he could hear a rattle coming from the rear of the car. After further review and after running in the top ten in practice in the GT class team engineers Kerry Caldwell and Steve Parker determined that the car was suffering from an internal engine failure. The team proceeded to come up with strategies for making the race which included trying to purchase specific motor parts in the Montreal area which ended without success to purchasing a new engine from two of the large factory backed teams present in Montreal. One of the Porsche teams was unable to present a motor that would pass 2008 specifications with Rolex Series officials and efforts by team principals to purchase a motor from a competing team was crushed when the price of the used motor increased to laughable heights. Kevin O’Connell commented, “I think we really had a good car for Montreal and I wish we could have proved it. We have had a lot of luck in the past and this weekend we gave a bunch of it back. We will have more spares in the future and we’ll avoid having to negotiate with certain individuals in a pinch”
Leading up to the NASCAR Nationwide series race on Saturday O’Connell complained that the transmission seemed to be slipping out of 3rd gear. In two of the practices the Mid Valley transmission stuck in third and fourth gear respectively causing the team to end practice early. Montgomery and O’Brien decided not to risk and additional time and installed a new Mid Valley transmission for the existing practices. After no other problems for the balance to the practice session and running in the middle of the field comfortably the team was ready for qualify the car. On the first out lap on the front stretch after taking the green flag the transmission once again jammed in third gear and ended the team’s efforts for qualifying for the race and consequently, in an unprecedented manner ended the weekend. Roy Montgomery commented, “We are very disappointed with this problem with these Mid Valley gearboxes and I understand that we were not the only team with gearbox problems. We prepared a very fast car for Montreal and would have even had the right equipment to run in the rain if necessary which the series ended up doing.”
The team heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park for the Rolex Series race at the end of August followed by Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City Utah for the season finale for Grand Am in mid September.
NEWPORT BEACH, CA. — (National Distribution) January 29th, 2007.
O’Connell Racing (OConnellRacing.com), a southern California based Grand American Rolex Series and NASCAR road racing team announced today it completed the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a top10 finish of 42 entries in the GT class and a 23rd overall finish with a record breaking 78 entries total for the historic race. Team drivers Kevin O’Connell and Michael Speakman were joined by Flying Lizard ALMS GT2 driver Lonnie Pechnik, IMSA winning driver Kevin Roush and NASCAR driver Jason Bowles. Kevin O’Connell commented, “our goal was to achieve a top ten finish in our first Rolex 24 and to accomplish that we elected to run our 996 GT-3 in lieu of the new 997 due to what we thought would be durability issues for the 997’s. To some degree we were right and the consistency of the 996 captured a great finish. Much of this success is credited to Barry and Roy and the rest of the crew in their efforts to get the car out of the pits as quick as possible. The crew was up for 36 hours and was executing pit stops every 90 minutes or so through the heat, cold, rain, and several unexpected situations.”
After qualifying, the team started the race 20th. Within the first few laps of the race driver Lonnie Pechnik radioed in that the car had picked up a vibration and was forced to pit for a new set of tires. That dropped the team to 37th position in GT and the team battled throughout the night and various bouts of rain to break into the top ten. Driver Michael Speakman stated, “early Sunday morning it rained hard and even the cars at low speeds with rain tires on were sliding off the track. Track officials went to a full course yellow and it wasn’t until I handed the car off to Lonnie that the track started to dry out and we went back to slicks.”
Kevin Roush completed the final two stints of the race and moved into the top 10 with 45 minutes to go in the race after the German favorite #85 Recaro Porsche 997 fell out of the contention with fatal engine failure.
Regarding television coverage, ratings for the opening broadcast on FOX Sports still to come, the audience tuning in for the anchor live portions of telecast on SPEED alone were enough to make this year’s Rolex 24 the most watched Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve race in SPEED history.
According to Nielsen Media Research, overall household viewership rose 26 percent (.43 to .54) from year-over-year totals while the network also enjoyed a three-day average increase of 28 percent over last year, as 458,000 viewers tuned into the telecast versus 359,000 in 2006.
Numbers also increased significantly within certain demographic areas, as Men 18-49 grew 72 percent and Men 18-34 rose 19 percent.
O’Connell Racing (OConnellRacing.com), a leading southern California based team in the Grand Am Rolex Series and in NASCAR road racing announced today that the team was crowned the official winner of the west coast’s most prestigious endurance auto race, NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill in northern California. The team ran a total of 2115 miles and 705 laps during the elapsed time of the event finishing the race over 30 laps ahead of the second place finisher, also a Porsche. Former 2005 Rolex Series GT champion Craig Stanton qualified the car and began the race from the pole after setting the fastest lap time. From the beginning of the race, Stanton battled with the #88 open cockpit Mazda powered spec racer setting some distance between the two before handing the car off to Greg Fordahl who created a 2 lap lead. Drivers Kevin O’Connell and Michael Speakman took over the car into nightfall with dropping temperatures followed by Betim Berisha and Jason Bowles taking the first complete darkness stints. The team set the overall pace for the race and had executed several mistake free pit stops until the team’s first pit stop around 9pm. Technical Director Roy Montgomery commented, “Mike came in hot and overshot the pit box at the end of his stint after picking up debris on the tires leading onto pit lane. After pushing the car back into the pit space the cars air jacks came down on the air hose rendering one of the air guns ineffective. I called for the battery powered backup gun and only lost a short time during the stop.”
The team extended its lead throughout the night and decided the initiate a driver change with fuel, tires and brake pads before midnight exiting Stanton and having Fordahl take over driving duties. Crew Chief Barry O’Brien stated, “the brake pad change Saturday night went extremely smooth. The team changed four tires, fuel and four corners of pad changes with a driver change in less than two minutes.” In the early morning hours temperatures reached the low 30’s and visibility became an issue for Speakman. Driver Mike Speakman commented, “ some of the other class race cars had lights installed that were extremely bright like something you would see in the BAJA 1000 and would light up the mirrors in the car to a point where it was difficult to locate the apex at certain points on the track.” Speakman completed his stint and maintained the team’s pace and handed the car off to O’Connell just before daybreak. The team executed a complete pit stop with tires and fuel as Speakman exited. Team principal and driver Kevin O’Connell commented, “ My daybreak stint at was pretty amazing as the sun rose from the east above the hills you had to adjust to what you were seeing from near tunnel vision in the darkness to the broad twilight of daybreak and warming temperatures. With sunlight you could see the endless debris off line on the track that was thrown on the course from cars going off throughout the night. You almost had to pass in the straights to avoid cutting down or flat spotting a tire.” Around 11am with an hour to go the team had established a 30-lap cushion over the second place Porsche and the third place Mazda spec racer. Around noon on Sunday the team took the checkered flag completing the 25 Hour race. O’Connell commented, “ I want to thank our partner in this race, Yokohama for supplying us with a great tire. We called on performance from the tires in the beginning of the race to get out of front of the Mazda and the other Porsche and again under nightfall needing to double stint the tires and cut down the times in the pits and the Yokohama’s delivered the grip and durability to help our drivers push ahead. Additionally, the professionalism and preparation of the Porsche GT-3 car by Betim Berisha and his firm BBI is the finest I’ve seen.”