In what is surely one of the strongest showings from a grassroots-level team in the Redline Time Attack series, Professional Awesome took another victory at the world famous Sebring International Raceway. Along with the team’s first place finish comes the title of East Coast Champions and an invite to the final race November 12-14 at California’s Auto Club Speedway. Dan led the Street Tire class with a very impressive 2.25.113 lap, beating out his nearest competitor by over 2 seconds, braving the 3.7 miles of challenging curves of the legendary Sebring racetrack. Sadly, yours truly was unable to attend, so I can only speculate on how incredible the experience must have been, so we’re going to shake things up a bit and let Dan step up and take us through the event.
How to describe this weekend? Perhaps a few numbers would help.
2,208 Miles traveled.
110 Degree in car temperatures.
60 Gallons of E85 Fuel used.
3 Car crashes into the wall. (Thankfully not ours! -Alec)
1 East Coast Championship secured.
My feelings about this weekend are tough to put into words. Here we are, a race team with a car built in a townhouse garage, our first true year of motorsports competition, on the halo’d ground of Ferrari, Porsche, Gurney, Andretti and countless racing legends.
I’ll start at the beginning. Mike Lewin and Grant Davis trailered the #777 Evo from our base in West Lafayette, Indiana straight down to Sebring. In the processes of their 20 hour drive a wheel bearing failure on the trailer caused the wheel to come perilously close to falling off. Seriously within a few millimeters. No big deal for arguable the best amateur race crew in existence. 3 Hours later the wheel bearing was fixed and upgraded with better than Taiwanese parts and 17 hours of smooth sailing later all was well.
I (Dan the driver) was lucky enough to fly down to Florida. Due to timing and budget we were almost out of our Amsoil Brake Fluid when Mike and Grant left Indiana and apparently there are some sort of TSA regulations against flying with Brake Fluid in your carryon luggage. After meeting with two of PA’s great supporters, Mike Fleege and Jordan Gilsinger, a massive search of Ft. Meyers for more Fluid commenced. Luckily we found a sweet motorcycle shop that carried exactly what we needed, little did we know how important this fluid would end up being.
Once we were all at the track on Friday the last remaining car prep was finished up. This included alignment, additional cooling ducting, fluids and the usual check over of the car. This left a little time to sit back and soak in the greatness that is Sebring. We also tossed the Duke (it’s the house football, for those not in the know – Alec) around, mandatory if you know me.
First on the track and last off is a sign of good preparation (or being inefficient as Fleege says) so PA was up and at the track at 6am Saturday morning. The car started out strong and quite quickly I became comfortable on the track. A few thoughts come to mind about the track. Narrow, lots of walls and just a tad bumpy. The KW Suspension proved its worth by handling everything I threw at it. Between flying off the curbing, 130mph-40mph in braking zones that feel like the surface of the moon and 80mph drifts across slabs of concrete, the car felt very stable through it all. One side note, we could use almost 10 gallons of fuel in one 25 minute session (6 laps)… This is an incredible rate of fuel usage for us, just staggering.
The only issue with the car could have been a big one. A brake caliper cross-over tube becoming loose and started leaking brake fluid. At this point of the track I was doing 130mph. Luckily I had plenty of run off and stayed calm and brought the car to a controlled stop. After carefully making it around the track and back to the pits Grant quickly diagnosed the issue and from then on the car was problem free and our car was the quickest in Street Class by a good margin.
I wish I could say the same about our competitors in Street AWD. Our good buddy Justin Matthews had rod bearing issues. Fortune Auto had a massive crack on both or of their brake front rotors. There were additional car crashes and our bro mates at Turn-In Concepts snapped a crankshaft in half! I don’t even know how that happens.
Sunday is were all the preparation and hard work paid off. Fast and reliable is how I would describe the car. A slight alignment tweak and the car was a rocket. I spent most of the practice sessions just going 7/10s to dial in a good line and cracked off only a few fast laps to ensure our position as first on the grid. We got our best time of the day at a 2:24.547 Our first timed session I over drove the car a bit and times weren’t as fast as in practice, but I did lap 3 cars and in the process secured the first place finish with a 2:25.113! Fortune Auto had a vacuum tube issue and couldn’t lay down a fast lap. This worried us slightly as we thought they might be able to pull a Hail Mary lap in the second session and beat our time.
We bumped up the boost controller in the final timed session to ensure we wouldn’t leave anything on the table, but issues cropped up with it feeling funky so I had to turn it back down. I drove consistently in the final session and the cheers from the pit as I drove by let me know that we had done it. Secured the fastest Street time of the day and along with it, the East Coast championship.
Only the Super Session was left, the wheel to wheel 5 lap race that always proves to be exciting. We were grided 4th place and even though Grant and Mike wanted me to take it easy, I had decided long ago that I was going to drive 100%, they were displeased. I passed Doug Wind in his SRT-4 and Fortune Auto’s Mod class Evo (both cars did have issues) on my way to a solid 2nd place finish.
After two bottles of champaign, a trophy and a few pictures with the models (Average day for us – Alec), talk was already to Autoclub Speedway in California. It never stops at Professional Awesome.
I wanted to thank Mike Fleege and Jordan Gilsinger as well as Lewin’s Mom and Grant’s parents for helping with not only support, but food and manual labor as well. I’d also like to thank all the sponsors, for all their help in making this year possible. And of course Redline Time Attack for putting on a great event.
And again a special thanks to our sponsors
(I second the many thanks to our sponsors, we couldn’t have done it without you! – Alec and the rest of the Professional Awesome team)