Posted (07/03/2004) -
We went to the Paul Revere race at Daytona with high expectations. We had been competitive in the Grand Am Rolex Series in the past couple of races but we could never translate that into a strong race result as misfortune had struck us at both the Watkins Glen six hour and the Mont Tremblant six hour.
When we arrived at the Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday there was already a huge amount of fans congregating inside the Speedway for Saturday's NASCAR Nextel Cup event. In addition to the surprise of the amount of fans already there we were taken aback by the extreme heat.
We had a practice session from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Wednesday. The Daytona International Speedway road course is unique in that the track conditions are ever changing. During the heat of the day the surface was so slippery it felt almost like we were driving on a track soaked with rain. After running both cars for about an hour, we parked them. We were first and second in the Super Grand Sports class and beyond that we were very exhausted. I got out of the car and actually felt a little light headed from the heat.
Qualifying was later that night at 6:00 PM. The heat had died down a little which was nice but the track was still a little slick. Our race plan called for me to drive the entire race in the #41 Orison Planet Earth Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup and my dad, Joe, to drive the entire race in the #42 Orison Planet Earth Porsche.
I placed the #41 on the pole position a second clear of the field. Joe scored an impressive fifth place qualifying effort, only seven tenths of a second off of second. As the session came to a close, Joe's right rear tire became flat and it was apparent that he had turned that time on a slowly deflating tire making it even more impressive.
There was an hour's worth of practice on Wednesday night. Joe took advantage of the entire session and ran a stretch of fourteen laps all within a second of each other. That consistency boded well for him during the race as the Daytona circuit was still slick and he was able to turn in lap after lap at the same time. The crew had already prepared the #41 for the race and during the session I took the car out for a few laps just to make sure everything felt fine.
Thursday was a very odd day for our team. The crew wasn't even allowed into our paddock until 2:00 PM and even at that the race wasn't until 11:00 PM. The cars were 90% prepped for the race so the crew didn't have much to do even when they showed up at the track.
The Nonnamaker family rested in the Air conditioned hotel most of the day and had lunch with a friend from Daytona. We checked in with the office and got caught up on any work we could do from the road. At that time it still was only 3:00 in the afternoon and there was nothing to do so we rested some more as we prepared for a late night race.
The race started right after NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying was over. We had our cars on track ten minutes after their session was over and as soon as they could get the television crews switched to the SPEED crew for our race we took the green flag. The cool part about this was the stands were packed still from NASCAR qualifying and we got to expose people to our type of racing that would have never seen anything like it otherwise.
At the start of the race we got a good jump on the field. I had a fifteen second lead early in the race when a GT class Porsche blew his right rear tire directly in front of me going into turn one at about 160 mph. I stood on the brakes as hard as I could and the GT Porsche continued to spin around and around right in front of me. Not sure where he was going to end up I decided to wait until he stopped spinning to drive around him. I almost came to a complete stop before I could go again and the result was the second place car had caught up to within a couple of seconds of me.
Once again I worked on extending my lead over the second place machine. By