Local Entries at Mid-Ohio
Resident Instructor Pilots Ohio-Based Rides for Southard and HART in Grand-Am Weekend
Shane Lewis may have been born in California and live in Jupiter, Fla. but the multi-time Grand-Am sanctioned-event race winner carries the "Buckeye" state close to his heart. This weekend Lewis will contest the two major races at the famous Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington. On Saturday, Lewis will pilot the Powell, Ohio-based No. 3 Southard Motorsports Lexus-Riley in the premier race of the weekend; the EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype (DP) Series event. On Sunday, he will return to the track he knows so well to represent the Honda America Racing Team (HART) based in Marysville in the KONI Challenge Street Tuner (ST) race. To further solidify his place as an honorary Ohioan, Lewis will also instruct this week at The Mid-Ohio School- the official driving school of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He has been connected with the school as an instructor for several years.
Ohio has played an intricate role in Lewis' racing career well before this weekend. In fact, if it was not for the state of Ohio, Lewis would have likely continued his path towards open wheel racing's premier divisions rather than the top ranks of endurance sports car racing. In 1990, fresh from his 1989 victory in the prestigious SCCA American Formula Ford Festival, Lewis was asked to attend the 24 Hour of Nelson Ledges in Garrettsville, Ohio as a relief driver.
The driver lineup was made of experienced, professional road racers and Lewis stepped into the car late in practice only to familiarize himself should he be needed in the event. Still unfamiliar with racing a sports car, Lewis set the quickest time of the lineup in a limited number of laps. He was then asked to qualify the car. Lewis earned the pole position and set fastest race lap on his way to the Showroom Stock Prototype class victory in his first 24 hour race. Since, he has driven in 25 24 hour races including 11 times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and in three 24 Hours of Le Mans. He returned to Nelson Ledges twice more, again sweeping pole position, fastest race lap and the class victory in 1991 and the victory in '92.
Lewis made his sports car racing debut at the 2.258- mile, 13-turn mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in impressive style as well. In 1995, Lewis, on his way to second in the season-long championship, won his first Bridgestone Supercar Championship race at Mid- Ohio. Among the drivers he fought with for the victory were fellow Rolex Series aces David Donahue, Andy Pilgrim, Randy Pobst and Hurley Haywood. He also has a number of other victories in various professional and vintage racing classes at the classic Ohio road course.
Since joining Southard Motorsports in 2004, Lewis has led the team to two Daytona Prototype class podiums, both third-place victories in 2006. Teamed this season with Bill Lester (Atlanta), the No. 3 Southard entry has scored two top-10 finishes and run consistently within the top-10 of the DP class. The combination is looking for its first career Daytona Prototype victory at Mid-Ohio in the 250 mile/ two hour, 45-minute event on June 21. The seventh round of the 14-race DP season will take the green flag at 5 PM (ET).
2008 marks the second season for Lewis behind the wheel of the No. 22 HART Honda Accord. In 2007, he helped the team, formed entirely by Honda of America engineers from the Marysville, Ohio assembly plant, to two victories and one pole position in the intensely competitive KONI Challenge ST class. Lewis will team with John Schmitt of Sunbury, Ohio for the two hour and 30-minute race on Sunday. The KONI Challenge ST is scheduled to start at 12:45 PM (ET).
Television coverage of the EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank can be seen live on SPEED beginning at 5 PM (ET). Live timing and scoring of each session of both races can be found at Grand-Am.com