Penner drove up from Southern California early Friday morning before the race to help Team Thunder Valley Racing as a spotter. “The Daytona Coupe (makes it) hard to see out of the back,” which made it difficult for its drivers to see the quick Porsches closing in. But short of filling in blind spots, he would alert the team if its Factory Five Racing Daytona Coupe replica ran into trouble.
Why did Penner make the long trek from SoCal to volunteer for the race? He’s a Factory Five Racing enthusiast, is building his own FFR Challenge car, and simply enjoys being a part of the action.
State of Mind
Mercer’s team members relish the action, too, and many of them compete at the 25 Hours during their off-season (read: free time). Not one team member seemed reluctant to be there. Said chief strategist Blam: “It’s such a fun event — to win it three years in a row is pretty special.” Driver Rich Walton, explaining how Mercer Motorsports became involved in the 25 Hours: “We told Scott Mercer over dinner the stories about the 25-hour race and how much fun it is — and the teamwork — and you could see (from) a little sparkle in his eye that he wanted to give it a try.” He continued, “Teamwork. That’s really the best part, I think.” The team’s determination to win in the “off-season” was as fierce as anybody’s. Many Mercer team members said, however, that they didn’t feel pressured to win the race despite a potential three-peat looming.
“You just do your best and whatever happens, happens,” said Johannes van Overbeek after the race. “Luckily, it worked out for us. It’s also the third year that there basically hasn’t been a mark on the car at the end of the race, which I think is really the essence of what you need to do to be successful at this event.”
Tommy Sadler, who prepared the GT3 Cup, shared the same mindset. “For me, if the car doesn’t run every lap of every minute of every hour, then I take that as a failure,” he stated. “My expectations are that it runs problem-free.”
Nico Castellaccio was eager for three wins in a row. He came close to a hat trick at Le Mans and Petit Le Mans crewing for the Peterson/White Lightning Porsche team years ago, but, “I could never get the three-peat” — until winning the 2011 25 Hours, he said.
In another impressive showing, G22 Racing/Truspeed placed its ES-class 911 GT3 Cup second overall with 693 laps in its debut at the 25-hour race. The team was very proud of its solid podium finish.
“We all have a sprint-racing background,” said driver Bryce Miller. “It really took a lot of self-discipline to be able to pull (the pace) back and hold it and keep the car and the equipment good for the whole 25 hours,” he explained, adding later, “It was to our advantage to have Mercer Motorsports on track.”
“It doesn’t hurt when you have a pit crew that can actually do a full brake pad change and everything in about four minutes,” driver Gregg Hodges quipped. In all, their 2008 GT3 Cup spent just 19 minutes in the pits over 25 hours. Driver Sloan Urry summed up the effort best: “It was our maiden voyage, so our main goal was to finish the race and go for a better finish later, but we got it all.”
SNT Motorsports’ Ed Nelson contended that, while the Ford GT was sidelined mid-race, his team “has something to shoot for” for 2012. He continued: “If you beat Mercer Motorsports, you’ve really accomplished something. That is why you do it.”
Will Scott Mercer bring another GT3 Cup for 2012? After his team’s third win, the answer was “no” — though his GT3 Cup will be used by Flying Lizard Motorsports for this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona. Of course, there’s nothing to keep a Porsche RS Spyder from mixing it up at the next 25 Hours… Anybody?