SEASON-OPENER AT 47TH ANNUAL ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA
Racers Edge Motorsports today announced its driver lineup for the #30 Racers Edge/3-Dimensional Services Group/ Idemitsu Mazda RX-8, competing in this weekend's 47th Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona. Taking turns behind the wheel during the twice-around-the-clock classic will be full-season co-drivers Doug Peterson and Dane Cameron, joined for this event by Bryan Sellers and Dion von Moltke. Peterson will qualify and start the car, with Cameron taking the second stint, followed by Sellers and Von Moltke.
The team, with new driver Dane Cameron setting the pace, worked through an aggressive and successful development program at the final pre-season test at Daytona to set the second-fastest GT-class lap time in the #30 Racers Edge/3-Dimensional Services Group/ Idemitsu Mazda RX-8. Equally important, both car and drivers proved competitive in each session throughout the test, under varying track conditions, fuel loads and traffic situations.
"I'm obviously pleased with how fast the car went, but even more so with the way the team and drivers worked together and improved every time we went out on track," said Jon Mirachi, owner and team manager of Racers Edge Motorsports. "In addition to our on-track performance, we focused on our pit stop procedures and reduced the time it takes to service the car and change drivers by more than ten seconds. There is even more speed in the car, and we know where to find it, so add it all together and I think we have reason to be optimistic about our chances in the Rolex 24."
Dane Cameron, who will be the full-season co-driver with Doug Peterson in the #30 Racers Edge Mazda RX-8, arrives at this point in his career via an accomplished climb up the open-wheel ladder. Driving for Genoa Racing in the ultra-competitive 2008 Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, Cameron started from the pole once and scored two podiums and five top-5 finishes, finishing seventh in the championship during his rookie season.
In 2007, he was both series champion and Rookie of the Year in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear with three wins, six pole positions, five podium finishes and two top-5s. In 2006, Cameron was the Rookie of the Year and finished second in the F2000 championship and, as a Team USA Scholarship driver, he won the 2006 Palmer Audi Winter Championship in Europe. In 2005, he was the SCCA Formula Jim Russell Series champion and Rookie of the Year. His karting career, beginning in 2000, was similarly successful, including the 2003 Jim Russell Karting 80cc Junior Shifter Championship and a 2004 finalist in the Red Bull Driver Search.
"Our most recent test went very well and we got some mechanical issues resolved, which is always better to do in testing that during the race weekend," says Cameron, a 19 year-old native of Sonoma, California. "Our one-lap speed was good, and we have some direction now for how to make the car more consistent over a full stint, from full fuel load to empty and new tires to used. The performance of the new-generation Pirelli tires was excellent, with very predictable wear and good consistency from set to set. Anything can happen in a 24-hour race, but barring the unforeseen, I'm confident that we'll be competitive."
The Racers Edge strategy for the Rolex 24 will be to have Cameron take over the car from Doug Peterson, who will qualify and start the race. Peterson, who began racing at the tender age of 48, is a Florida resident and avid scuba diver who owns the patent on interlocking trays used to grow indoor, removable, and natural-grass playing fields. He is also a racing veteran with extensive open-wheel and sports car experience, including the 2000 Formula Mazda Master's Championship. He ran the full 2007 season in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT and competed in the ALMS GT2 class in 2008.
"This will be my first Rolex 24 with the Racers Edge team and I'm hoping for a great time and a competitive finish," says Peterson. "I've raced at Daytona a couple of times, including a Formula Mazda, which turns about the same lap times as our GT2 car, so I'm able to focus on turning consistent laps rather than learning the track. Racers Edge has a long history in the sport and a great track record and I'm extremely happy to be partnered with such a talented group of young drivers."
The third driver in the Racers Edge Rolex 24 squad is another top open-wheel racer lately turned to sports car racing, Dayton, Ohio native Bryan Sellers. He, among all the Racers Edge drivers, has the most successful experience at the Rolex 24, having finished third last year in the #67 TRG Porsche. A many-time national karting champion beginning in 1993, Sellers started climbing the open-wheel ladder as the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winner in 1999. He won the US FF2000 championship in 2002 and – proving just how tightly-knit the racing world really is - graduated to the legendary Lynx Racing Atlantic team (with engineer Rick Cameron, Dane Cameron's father) in 2003. He ran the full 2004 Atlantic season with Lynx Racing (and with sponsorship from Doug Peterson and 3Dimensional Services) and moved up to drive for the factory Panoz GTLM team in 2005.
"This most recent with all the Grand-Am teams at Daytona was important because you get to measure yourself and your progress against the people you will actually be on track with in the race," says Sellers. "It's also important because once you get to the actual Rolex 24 race weekend, there is no time at all to work out any problems you haven't fixed ahead of time. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, and was impressed with how well the team jelled during the test, and with how we were able to make continuous improvements and keep getting faster. With all the talent and preparation the Racers Edge team has done, I think a podium finish is a very realistic goal."
The youngest member of the team is 18 year-old Dion von Moltke, who brings with him the advantage of being the only one of the four to have actually driven the #30 Racers Edge car in a race; co-driving with Jordan Taylor to a 13th-place finish in his first-ever Rolex GT race. The duo was the fastest Mazda on track and ran lap times consistently in the top-5, with penalties for putting a wheel off track and violating Grand-Am's 'dust rule' costing them six places at the finish. Von Moltke also ran with the Racers Edge team at the Grand-Am series season-end test at Daytona in October.
"I'm excited to be part of the Racers Edge effort at Daytona because all of the drivers are fast, they know what they're doing and the chemistry between us all is good," says von Moltke, who races with the support of personal sponsor South African Airways. "This will be my first 24-hour race and I, along with all of the rest of the drivers and even the crew guys, am on a special regimen of exercise, nutrition and mental focus. We're all very energized and can't wait to get to the track and go racing."
His young career also includes a solid foundation of international kart and formula car racing. The South African racer was born in Texas, and lived in Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles before moving to his current home in Miami. He started kart racing at age of 13 in Southern Florida and won several championships at the state and regional level before moving into the National and International arenas and raced for the USA in the World Championship of Karting event in Italy. Most recently, von Moltke underwent intensive formula car training in the Skip Barber National racing series, and over the past two seasons has been a front-runner in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge.
The team's preference for drivers with open-wheel training is understandable; Racers Edge is a former Star Mazda team that won back-to-back championships in 2002 with Guy Cosmo and 2003 with Luis Schiavo before moving up to the Grand-Am series in 2007. Under the guidance of President, Team Manager (and former driver) Jon Mirachi, Racers Edge has established itself as one of the premier teams in North American road racing with substantial achievements in both open wheel racing and sports cars. In the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex GT series, Racers Edge led three races, scoring five top-5 and ten top-10 finishes. In 2008, racing the same Mazda RX-8 they will field this season, the team again led three races and scored three top-10 finishes.
On track activity at the famed Daytona International Speedway begins with morning practice followed by the traditional 15-minute afternoon qualifying session on Thursday, January 22. Additional practice and qualifying sessions are scheduled for Friday, January 23, with the green flag scheduled to wave for 47th Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona 3:30 pm, Saturday, July 24. The checkered flag will greet the survivors 24 hours later, at 3:30 pm, Sunday, January 25. The opening and closing hours of the race will be broadcast on SPEED TV, with periodic updates during the event; check speedtv.com for exact times.