This past weekend’s race at Road Atlanta was only the fourth race for the recently formed #73 Park Place Motorsports sponsored car and what a race it was! The Braselton, Georgia venue played host to the Grand Am Rolex series for the first time, usually only hosting the American Le Mans Series due to the fact that they share an owner in ALMS founder Don Panoz. With the ALMS/Grand Am merger on the horizon it proved to be the perfect opportunity to introduce the Grand Am Daytona Prototypes and Grand Touring cars to the winding Georgia hills and daunting downhill turn 12.
Park Place Motorsports/Horton AutoSport drivers had all driven the track before; however, the 73 and 71 cars had to get setup for the 12-turn circuit for the first time. With weather creating a shortened practice day on Friday, the Horton AutoSport team scrambled to make improvements to the cars before the rain ended their progress. The rain came Friday morning and continued throughout the day, forcing qualifying to be canceled that afternoon. The 73 Park Place Motorsports/Children’s Tumor Foundation/HITRUST Porsche GT3 of Patrick Lindsey and Patrick Long would start the race 7th based on points and the 71 Godstone Ranch/American Heart Association/Hands-Only CPR Porsche of John McCutchen II and Jason Hart starting 11th.
Due to the nature of the starting positions both the 73 and 71 cars chose to begin the race more conservatively. “Bad things tend to happen when fast guys get stuck near the back of the field” noted Lindsey, who described the unfortunate gridding of the field based on points. Many of the front runners in practice would start the race in the middle of the pack, meaning they would have to fight hard to gain track position. Sure enough, contact resulting in an early caution rewarded the conservative driving of the cars, moving them up in the field. Eventually the 73 car would stop for a driver change just after the 50 minute mark in 5th place.
Solid strategy, amazing pit stops and excellent driving moved the 73 car within striking position throughout the two and a half hour green flag sprint to the end. When Long pitted for the last time with 40 minutes remaining he left pit road in fourth place and ready to pounce. The Brumos Porsche of Leh Keen was next in line and Long had to work hard to find a way around the determined 59 car. “I used a DP as a pick into turn one, backing up the corner, and we ended up going three wide into turn two with a GX Mazda. I made the pass stick on the inside to turn 3”, explained Long. Pressing on to the back of the Ferrari, Long somehow managed to squeeze past in the most treacherous part of the track, the entrance to turn 12; “It’s a place that I’ve never considered as a real passing zone, but with the amount of tire wear [Balzan] had to contend with, it was a chance to put the hard decision on his shoulders as I came up beside him in eleven”. With only two more times around the circuit to go the 57 Camaro of Robin Liddell would elude the 73, but the team was ecstatic to come back to Dallas with a 2nd place finish. Long added “We’re running against some strong competitors; it’s a good barometer that we’re going in the right direction as a group”.
The 71 Godstone Ranch/American Heart Association/Hands-Only CPR car would ultimately finish 10th with John McCutchen II and Jason Hart putting in a determined and fast drive. “It was great to be back in the Hands-Only CPR “Heart Car” with my co-driver John McCutchen. We had a solid run, finishing 10th and the team performed flawlessly. It is always a joy to drive a Porsche at Road Atlanta, I couldn’t be happier” were Jason Hart’s words after the big race. The 71 car took most of the limelight throughout the weekend as famed production group Bandito Brothers filmed a public service announcement for The American Heart Association. The PSA can be seen throughout the year when the Rolex Series airs on SPEED. John McCutchen is the driving force behind the “Heart Car” and came off the track all smiles. “The Horton crew impressed me more than in any recent race experience. Our car, like the 73 performed flawlessly and could have easily been on the podium too! All of us at Godstone and the AHA look forward to our next outing”. McCutchen added: “We are looking forward to seeing [the PSA] run the rest of the season beginning in Detroit. Hey, big thanks to Calvin Fish of SPEED TV for doing the on camera narration”.
The Horton AutoSport team has a long break before competition resumes on the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit June 1st. First though, the team will return to their home track at Circuit of the Americas to play host and sponsor to the Porsche Club of America event May 10-12. “We are incredibly excited to be a part of the first PCA event at COTA”, doted Patrick Huston, General Manager of Park Place Porsche and Park Place Motorsports. “We work hard to promote motorsports within the local Porsche community and sponsoring the PCA event at COTA proved to be a unique opportunity to introduce our clients and fellow PCA members to this world class facility”.