Lakeville, Conn. – The Calvert Dynamics and Phoenix Performance team’s recent race weekend with the Pirelli World Challenge at Lime Rock Park was marked by the herculean task of straightening and rebuilding a bent Porsche GT3 Cup race car in just about four hours, a monumental and creative effort on a blistering hot day.
With the Friday morning practice session well underway, Preston Calvert spun his No. 77 Porsche in turn seven, the Downhill, a high-speed downhill right-hander that can bite. Unfortunately the spin took him into the tire barrier outside the turn exit, damaging the front bodywork extensively, and puncturing all three front radiators.
With the car back in the team’s paddock, disassembly began with the race just over four hours away. Parts were removed and marked for the trash pile, including the front bumper, fenders, and three radiators and assorted other bits. The biggest challenge, however, was a severely bent front sub-frame, or ‘clip’, which might mark the end of the weekend for many race teams.
In consultation with the team leaders, Joe and Andrew Aquilante, the team decided to try to work out a creative repair in time for the Friday race. The GT3 Cup crew chief, Marshall Mast, with the assistance of Jayson van Schooten, Ken Dehner and versatile race engineer Jeff Feit, dived into this difficult task with purpose and great teamwork.
With the front of the car ready for its plastic surgery, the team made artful use of some ratchet straps, holding one side of the car to the team’s tractor/trailer, used to haul it to the track, and hooking the other side to Andrew Aquilante’s pickup-truck – essentially pulling the car straight in the middle of the Lime Rock paddock on Friday afternoon during GT qualifying.
With the car’s front clip straightened, the team continued its rapid work pace, repairing and rebuilding the front end of the car. Spare radiators and body panels – already wrapped with the team’s iconic yellow and black livery – were fitted.
The car made it to grid in time for Friday’s race, where Calvert would start last due to missing qualifying. The total repair time clocked in at four hours and 10 minutes, a window in which the team also fielded Andrew Davis and the No. 76 Porsche 991 GT3-R for qualifying and also prepped that car for the 50-minute Pirelli World Challenge sprint race.
“I salute the dedication and skill of the Calvert Dynamics / Phoenix Performance team for this masterful demonstration of creative problem solving and smooth, selfless teamwork. It was truly awe-inspiring to be part of this effort,” said Calvert, who was able to complete the race distance on Friday afternoon, and put in a similar result for Saturday’s race, earning fourth place points in each race, to remain in third place in the GT Cup driver Championship standings.
The team’s GT effort for Davis brought home two race finishes in a tight and super-competitive GT field on a track with little room for passing, or error. It was the second race in a row that Davis delivered a strong opening lap performance that propelled him up the order.
“I was unable to find the desired balance in regards to handling, so we struggled to find pace in qualifying,” said Davis. “Lime Rock is more like a bull ring once the green flag drops, and the Pirelli World Challenge series didn’t disappoint when it came to on track action. I battled every lap, and was able to improve positions in both races. The second race was a little more rewarding as I picked up four or five positions on the initial start on the way to a top ten finish. We made some significant changes to the car before the race, so I’m hopeful that this is the way forward.
“In all reality, all of our current struggles are a bit meaningless at the moment. My thoughts and prayers are with Jorge De LaTorre, Andrew Palmer, and their families after the terrible morning warm-up accident left them with serious injuries,” continued Davis. “Obviously, there is inherent danger in auto racing and we as drivers knowingly accept the risk. However, all of that doesn’t make things easier when faced with the situation.”
Next up, Calvert Dynamics heads to the iconic Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, a high-speed 14-turn four-mile road course.
##About Calvert Dynamics##
Calvert Dynamics, LLC is focused on human factors and medical issues in motorsports. This emphasis especially includes visual attention and visual processing that determine driver performance. In addition, Calvert Dynamics promotes awareness of the importance of minor traumatic brain injury in motorsports performance and driver well-being.
## About Phoenix Performance ##
Phoenix Performance is a performance tuner, providing maintenance, tuning and diagnostic services for foreign and domestic cars and trucks, as well as performance upgrades and tuning for street and track cars. The PWC race team occupies part of the 32,000 square-foot race shop, which is located 30 miles west of downtown Philadelphia. Since 1999, Phoenix Performance has prepared over 35 SCCA Runoff winning national championship cars for customers.
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