Team Sahlen, presented by honeybeeBase.com, entered the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series at Pittsburgh International Race Complex on racing hig. This was a result of securing 1st Place in both the Saturday and Sunday Enduros with the ChampCar Series just a few weeks before at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. With competition fierce in the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series, Team Sahlen knew that they would have their work cut out for them to even come close to duplicating this result.
Friday was an optional Test Day, and Team Sahlen utilized the opportunity to not only test their “Ketchup” & “Mustard” Porsche Boxsters for the ChampCar event, but to also get some valuable seat time for drivers Jacob Grimm and Joseph Sahlen who would racing the #941 “Charcoal” Mazda RX7. The Test Day was beautiful blue skies, and team was able to get in some very quality laps around the track. The Test Day was successful with everyone receiving plenty of quality laps.
Saturday dawned with beautiful blue skies and dry track, which is exactly how Team Sahlen likes to go racing. With 60 entries, managing traffic would be essential. Team Sahlen received the “bind draw” starting slots of last on the grid. But the Team Sahlen drivers knew that the race was a long 8 hour enduro, and took their time working through traffic. And then at an hour and half into the race, Team Sahlen was running 2nd and 3rd Overall.
Throughout the rest of the race, Team Sahlen would face a strong challenge from the Porsche 944 of Visceral Racing. Lap after lap, the 2 Porsches dualled it out at the front of the pack. Then as the cars pitted for the their last stops of the day, disaster unfortunately struck for Visceral Racing, as their window net fell down after the pit stop. This short delay for a 2nd stop in the pits, placed the #943 “Mustard” with a comfortable lead that lasted to the checkered flag, to secure 1st OVERALL and 1st in C Class. In an eventful day, #941 “Charcoal” survived several on-track incidents to come home 13th OVERALL and 2nd in B Class.
Joe Sahlen shared his thoughts after the amazing race – “That was a very hard fought victory today. We had some really tough competition from the Visceral 944. I don’t think we put a wheel wrong all day, in what was a near perfect execution on track and in the pits. The crew prepared a great car that ran flawlessly all day.”
Sunday dawned again with overcast skies and precipitation in the air. “Mustard” would start a lap down due to the Saturday victory. This lap was quickly snatched back by a super great 1st stint by Joe Sahlen wheeling the Porsche racer ahead of the competition. As the race continued to unfold, the track would vary from dry to wet. This put extra pressure on the Team Sahlen drivers to be able to maximize lap times with the ever changing conditions. The competition on Sunday was even stiffer than the day before, with not only the Visceral Racing 944, but the dual entry of RVA Graphics’ BMW a threat all race long. Some very, very fortunate full course cautions saw the #943 “Mustard” entry sneak out a 1 lap lead with 2 hours to go in the race. Despite several full course cautions late in the event, Team Sahlen retained the lap lead to secure the OVERALL victory and Class C win.
The race of the day for Team Sahlen though came from the #941 “Charcoal” Mazda RX7. Jacob Grimm & Joseph Sahlen built upon their track time from Saturday and put in a spectacular drive. With only a flat tire causing a slight delay in the pits, the rotary rocket ran smoothly all day. And at the conclusion to the race, “Charcoal” secured 8th OVERALL and 1st in B Class.
Jacob Grimm shared his thoughts – “What a fantastic day. This is the 10 Anniversary of Charcoal racing in ChampCar. I remember building this RX7 and running it in the 25 hours at Nelson that year. We finished 11th out of 72 racers that year. And here we are a decade later, and old Charcoal is not only still running, but having the great result. I love this car, it is the best.”
The victories this weekend now places both Team Sahlen’s #942 “Ketchup” entry and #943 “Mustard” entries in a tie for 1st place in the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series point standings.
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The event will start on Friday – October 22nd with practice & qualifying. Then Saturday and Sunday will be an 8.5 hour enduro starting at 8:30 am.
2021 Team Sahlen Campaign Partners
honeybeeBase.com, Porsche Beachwood, Audi Mentor, ECS Tuning, Tarett Engineering, Guard Transmission, , HubstandsPRO, Maxima Racing Oil, Brothers Grimm Landscaping, NGK Spark Plugs, CM Racing Products, Mothers Polish, Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, Design Engineering Inc., Hard Brakes, Forgeline Wheels, Optima Batteries, All-Fit Automotive, Mazdaspeed, Winding Road Racing, Performance Friction Brakes, WIX Filters & Capri Tools.