Friday, November 1, 2013

Falken Tire’s Winning Week at Petit Le Mans

The final running of the American Le Mans Series at Petit Le Mans put on a show that will be talked about for years. The event was especially memorable for Team Falken Tire, not only clinching the final ALMS GT class win, but beating the factory teams in the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which two months previously was on display in the Walker Racing shop.

In our previous blog, we showed our fans the fan-designed Forza Motorsport 4 livery the 17 Porsche would sport at Petit Le Mans. 

The new livery came out incredibly similar to the original design, and Porsche turned heads all over the paddock.

Before the official practice sessions began at Road Atlanta, many of the ALMS teams arrived a few days early to get some additional testing in. For Falken, this additional testing was crucial to a strong performance in the days to follow.  The team was running a 2010 Porsche with 2012 aero regulations, and worked hard to find the best set up to run for the final event of the year.

Open test days can be convenient for teams, since there is not a strict schedule to adhere to. Team members like Edo and Owen can take a moment to enjoy the weather while they wait for the next set of tires to be ready to be transported back to the rig.

The one-off livery looked nothing short of menacing on track. The fan and media response was overwhelmingly positive.

After completing a long stint, Bryan came down the pit box rig to join Yoshi and Rick, watching the data on the screens.
Wolf debriefing with Team Falken engineer Sebastian following a test session stint.

At Circuit of the Americas, Bryan and Wolf took ownership of two bikes for transportation around the track between sessions. Someone felt the bikes needed a little bling, so pink, yellow and blue ribbons were tied to the seats and handlebars.

At the beginning of the week, the racing world woke up to the news of the tragic loss of racer Sean Edwards. With heavy hearts, drivers and teams all across the paddock showed their support with various decals.

Wolf (@Wolf_Henzler), Bryan (@BryanSellers) and Nick (@NickTandyR) each wore stickers on their Hans devices and helmets in remembrance of Sean.

Nick Tandy first raced with Falken Tire at the beginning of the 2013 season for the 12 Hours of Sebring, celebrating a 3rd place finish with Bryan and Wolf. The team was happy to have him back for Petit Le Mans, again gracing the podium.

All serious faces in pit lane as the test sessions continue on.

One popular talking point of the new livery was her new teeth, earning her a variety of nicknames from the fans.

Artie and Nick waiting for the 17 Porsche to pit during practice.

Thursday at Petit Le Mans is always a long day. The teams wake up early for morning practice then stay late with night practice. Luckily, our friends at Robust Energy (@FeelRobust) dropped by with energy drinks for the drivers and crew.

After two strong sessions in the rain, Wolf and Andrew shared some laughs in the pit box before heading back to the paddock.

Before night practice, each car needs to have the lights calibrated properly for the night racing.

Besim, Mo, Mike, Lee and Artie making the final preparations on the Porsche before practice. Under the management of Derrick Walker, this team worked hard to get the 17 Porsche race ready. The Petit Le Mans win wouldn’t be possible without all their hard work!

Bryan and Team Manager Derrick Walker reviewing the latest data before Bryan gets in his required stint for night practice.

No matter where a team member is standing in the pit box, they have easy access to the data and TV feeds, even when waiting to jump over the wall and begin a stint.

Even though the first night session of the week is just a practice, it is the only one before the race. The team stays serious and focused, treating each practice pit stop as if it were during green flag racing.

Nothing beats beautiful sports cars under the lights!

The new Falken livery was ever-present on the ALMS TV coverage. Even more popular was the gold tooth that appeared after the wrap was complete. Originally placed on the car as a joke for the officials at tech inspection, the tooth stayed on and became not only a talking point for fans and media but the team’s good luck charm.

Each day of official practice brought rain, allowing the Falken Porsche to have a little fun with her wet tires at the top of the charts. Hours later, the track would dry out, forcing teams to switch back to slick tires. The varying conditions allowed for teams to try various set ups and prepare for the race on Saturday.

The day before the race, the sun came out just in time for the driver autograph session. As with every race, the line of fans was long and steady as drivers signed posters and hero cards and gave away Falken Tire swag.

Last year at Petit Le Mans, our friends at HPI Racing (@Officialhpi) debuted the Falken Tire RC car, exactly matching the iconic Falken Tire livery. This year, they surprised us with an RC car that matched the fan-designed livery.

Nick, Bryan and Wolf spent Friday afternoon with public relations appearances, their first stop being Porsche hospitality. After meeting with guests and workers, the Falken trio signed Porsche memorabilia.

Porsche hospitality was a class set up, with a giant picture of the Falken Porsche on one of the walls. As you can see, the drivers were quite excited to get their photo taken with it.

After visiting Porsche hospitality, the drivers stopped by for a question and answer session at the Porscheplatz. Members of the Porsche Club of America had a great view of turns 10a and 10b.

Race day means Falken Spokesmodels!  Juliana (@JulianaDaniell) and Katie (#twitterlesskatie) were on hand on the big day to sign autographs, take photos and support the team.

Wolf, Nick and Bryan debrief after the final warm up session.  After a year of testing, the moment finally arrived for the team to lay it all on the line.

On the pre-race grid with Katie and Juliana before it opened up to the fans. The weather hasn’t ideal, but the Spokesmodels were troopers and posed with fans for the hour.

With constantly changing weather conditions Bryan, Wolf and Derrick were checking the radar every few moments, trying to decide whether or not to start on wet tires.

Fans of all ages came out to meet the drivers and see the new livery at the fan walk.

Nick Tandy (@NickTandyR), Bryan Sellers (@BryanSellers) and Wolf Henzler (@Wolf_Henzler) took a quick break from posing with fans to take a quick photo together before the grid cleared.

Even as officials asked the grid to be cleared, fans still approached the drivers for photos and autographs. We have some die hard Falken Fanatics!

Just in time for the green flag, our friends at Go Puck (@gopuckbattery) brought over this lithium battery for the phone we used to tweet updates. Instead of charging up once every two hours, Go Puck kept @FalkenALMS fully charged all 10 hours of Petit Le Mans. 

During the daylight hours of the endurance event, the Porsche suffered some minor contact on the nose of the car. It would later cause some problems with the headlights, but the Falken Porsche was tough and finished in first with everything working properly.

Every race, the team keeps a steady eye on the weather radar. The first few hours of Petit Le Mans were hampered with inconsistent weather conditions causing yellow flags and changing up each team’s pit stop strategy. 

As the Falken Porsche worked its way up through the field, the FOX Sports crew and other media members were often present to interview Wolf, Bryan and Derrick.

During endurance events, teams will arrange for their hospitality to provide snacks, meals and drinks for the drivers and crew.

Every now and then someone will put the coffee in front of the TV, leading for “down in front” to be yelled often in the pit.

Race tracks come alive as the sun sets. Temperatures drop, and the cars shine under the lights. As Petit Le Mans continued on, Falken continued to climb up the charts.

As the sun set, the Porsche underwent her final driver change.

In the final hour, everyone was all nerves, watching the minutes wind down as the Falken Porsche stayed ahead of the GT field.

In the final laps, Bryan and Wolf huddled together with Derrick, glued to the screens, waiting for that final lap where Nick brought the Falken Porsche across the finish line in first.

As Nick Tandy crossed the finish line, the team ran across pit lane to congratulate him as he drove by.

Photographers swarmed Bryan as he ran to congratulate Nick.

Wolf was next on the scene to congratulate Nick.

Team Falken Tire earned victory number four at the final ALMS Petit Le Mans!

Mike (@MikeZa88) was the first crew member to reach the Porsche, thrilled that the gold tooth survived all ten hours.

While waiting for the podium ceremonies, Scott Atherton came over to personally commend the Falken Tire drivers on a job well done.

A podium well earned by everyone at Team Falken Tire!

For the fans: Keep following the team on twitter at @FalkenALMS because we have a fresh batch of signed posters to give away!

Fan Photos

Bryce (@57BDR) snapped this pic of the Falken Porsche during Friday Practice.

Pit stop for the Falken Tire Porsche, and Anthony (@atflorio) was cheering us on from the east coast.

Mike (@avsfan26) posted this shot of Wolf behind the wheel, leading as the sun set.

Like us at Team Falken Tire, Peter (@BaronVonClutch) thought seeing the #17 at the top of the results was a beautiful sight.

Nothing like a victory interview! Peter (@BaronVonClutch) was watching and cheering us on from the west coast. 

The Porsche exiting turn 10b, heading to the front straight, by Brian (@BrianMcKayUSA).

Caleb (@calebbox) brought his son by to see the new livery on the Porsche at the pre-race Fan Walk.

The exit of turn 10B seemed to be a popular place for fan photos! Another shot by Caleb (@calebbox).

 Eric (@Cyanbane) caught the team performing our top priority: polishing the good tooth.

Eric’s (@Cyanbane) daughter Ava was a big Falken Fanatic, and stopped by several times during the weekend to say hello to the drivers and the car.  Thanks for the support, Ava!

Danny (IG: dantangfoto) stood behind the Falken Tire pit box as the post-race celebratory fireworks lit the sky. 

Nothing like watching the Falken Porsche charge through the darkness! Photo by (@DavidWillsATL).

Doug (@DeltaGolfSierra) stopped by the paddock to see the new livery. Hope you liked it, Doug!

Dana (@DriverAppear) was there to watch the Falken Tire rig pull out the next day. 

Shane (@engShane) tweeted this picture to us as the sun set on the final ALMS race.

Evin (@EvinPrelec) opened up the Atlanta Constitution newspaper to see Atlanta’s own Bryan Sellers and the team made it into the paper.

AJ (@fireba11) stopped by to check out the Katie, Juliana and the Falken Porsche on the pre-race fan walk.

AJ (fireba11) sent this photo of the Falken Porsche in her element. 

The Go Puck (@gopuckbattery) ladies stopped by on the fan walk for a photo with our Falken Ladies, Katie Carnes, Kelly (@K2theBru) and Juliana (@JulianaDaniell) to wish us good luck and give us mobile freedom!
From Allan (@Grand_AmFan99), the Falken Porsche roaring down the straight.

A Falken Tire pit stop captured by Allan (@Grand_AmFan99). 

Trevor at High Revs Photography (@HighRevsPhoto) captured this great shot of the Falken Porsche showing off in the rain.

Robert (@Hutch_USA) was on hand to catch the victory celebrations at the podium.

Robert (@Hutch_USA) also stopped by the tire rig to see the to-be race winning tires! 

Just in time for Petit Le Mans, TC (@iowa_bb61) tweeted us a picture of the wheel he won at the Austin Hatcher auction Falken participated in at Road America. Table looks great, TC! 

Jason (@JasonZais) couldn’t be at the race, but he showed his support at home. Thanks, Jason!

While we were racing at Road Atlanta, Bill (@jaxhockey) raced with us in spirit, doing some SCCA autocross on his Falkens.

Atlanta local Josh (@jbank003) sent in this photo of the Falken Porsche looking speedy! 

Not exactly a Team Falken photo but Justin (@jblakem1) tweeted us this pic of the track from the air. Who knows, maybe you can see the Porsche from here….

Justin (@jblakem1) was also the winner of a Vitesse ride, courtesy of Porsche. All season long, Porsche (@Porsche) has given us so many Vitesse rides to giveaway to our twitter followers.

Past the halfway point, Jesse (@jeriley) tweeted us this photo of the Falken Porsche leading the Viper.

Jesse (@jeriley) also stopped by on the grid to get a photo with Wolf on the pre-race grid.

JP (JHamilton), a member of the 10 Tenths motorsports forum posted this beautiful photo of the Porsche.

John (@johnremus) was among the fans excited to see Falken drivers Wolf and Bryan in the winning post-race interviews. 

 Falken’s own Joyce (@joycelex) was at the podium to celebrate with the team on a hard-earned victory.

Pre-race Joyce (@joycelex) tweeted this pic of the team lined up during the pre-race ceremonies. Left to right: Juliana (@JulianaDaniell), Mike (@MikeZa88), Kelly (@K2theBru), Alex, Artie, Brad, Sebastian and Katie.

Kellie (@kellieq123) was on hand to support the team and tweeted this post-race photo of the battered but race-winning smile of the Falken Porsche.

Kellie (@kellieq123) also made it to the podium to celebrate with the drivers on the victory podium.

She might be missing a few teeth, but as shown by Karl (@Koolkarl19), our lady came out grinning! 

Kyle (@kyle_keesling) tweeted support from his Falken filled man cave. Looks great! 

Falken Tire takes the checker flag in first! Thanks Kyle (@KyleGibbyGibson) for the photo. 

There’s nothing like cold champagne down your back, celebrating on the top step. Thanks (@lainey_vb131) for a photo.

Falken Frenzy, Sharknado, the Toothinator, you name it. Fans like Marco (@mar_B_ond) were showing their support for the new livery!

Kyle (Mechanic Z) sent us this photo on 10 Tenths Motorsport Forum of the Falken Porsche being towed back to the garage victorious.

We’re pretty sure Michael (@michaellgoodwin) was a fan of the teeth.

Michael (@michaellgoodwin) stopped by as the team had her dentures out.

One of our most supportive Canadian fans (@MikeyP155), was thrilled to see the Falken Porsche leading, gold tooth and all.

Race over and back inside the rig, team member Mike (@MikeZa88) posted this picture with the winning trophies.

Moni (@Monielysium) loved taking shots of the new livery all weekend long. Thanks for the shots, Moni!

Scott (@Om3ga73) tweeted us mid race with a picture of our hero card for support. Thanks for cheering us on, Scott!

 Performance Prime (@PerformPrime), always a fan of the Falken Spokesmodels.

Dave (@PorscheDave09) tweeted his support with the shot of this beauty.

 Dave (@PorscheDave09) snapped this shot of the Porsche being chased by the Ferrari and the Corvette as she roared down the front straight.

Brian (@rax262) called our Porsche “some sort of automotive Bond villain” with her hold tooth.

 Brian (@rax262) picked up the 2013 poster to add to his collection.

Our own Rick (@RickMahurin) tweeted this photo of the Forza Motorsport Livery in the game. The final result was pretty close to the original design.

 The Porsche heading into turn 7 at Road Atlanta, by Sang (@SangBehr).

As he cleared the grid, Sang (@SangBehr) stopped by for a quick photo in the Falken pit.

Cindy (@skinkyL0u) stood behind the Falken pits in the final moments, as the team watched Nick take the white flag, then the win.

Jeff (@spyboy1) created this tribute for Team Falken after the win. Thanks Jeff!

Ben (@TheBenWedge) told the team if Falken won, he’d buy some winter Falken Tires, and sure enough, in the days to follow, he held up his end of the bargain! 

Katie (@YourRacingBelle) caught our Porsche mid-pass on a GTC Porsche.

Last but not least, Zach’s (@Zach23Czerniak) photo of the Falken Tire fan designed livery on the grid.

Next Up
Next, Wolf and Bryan will be at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas with the Petit winning Porsche on display. The car will remain in her post-race condition. Follow on for autograph session times and driver appearances.