On September 21, 2014 the USA’s first ever all service-disabled Veteran endurance auto racing team successfully completed their inaugural 14 hour ChumpCar World Series endurance race at Sebring International Raceway.
Driving a Porsche 944 the Veterans built in their Racing4Vets program, the Tampa-based team finished 52nd out of 120+ cars that started the grueling 14 hour race. This was the first race in a brand new car for the four service-disabled Veterans, and the team’s first wheel-to-wheel competition. By finishing in the top 50% of entrants against far more experienced teams, Tampa’s Racing4Vets team displayed the legendary commitment, grit and skill America’s Veterans are known for.
Racing4Vets team partners Chilly Performance, Superior Bearings, Zeigler Transmission, Raceday Safety and ChumpCar World Series provided outstanding material support and guidance to our Veteran racers. Chilly Performance provided the race shop space, tools and transportation for Racing4Vets to build the Porsche 944 race car. Superior Bearings provided competition bearings, hotel accommodations and financial support. Zeigler Transmission provided race transmission services and support. Raceday Safety provided race safety equipment for the Porsche 944. ChumpCar World Series provided discounted entry fees to Racing4Vets team. Without the commitment of these Tampa motorsports community leaders, our Racing4Vets auto racers could not achieve the remarkable success.
The 14 hour ChumpCar endurance race at Sebring is known for its grueling combination of tricky concrete runway track, long hours and challenging day-and-night conditions. The race started at 9:00 AM on a wet track from torrential overnight rains and slowly dried out. From 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM we raced into the night, which proved challenging on the 3.7 mile course with the car’s lighting and race traffic.
Racing4Vets Porsche 944 race car ran well, but the race was not without its mechanical challenges. In the first hour the car developed a main power switch problem required a tow back to the pits, where the team rewired the ignition with the assistance of Chilly Performance. Once back on track the Veterans drove a solid race pace. They completed 10 pit stops for fuel, mechanical checks and driver rotation. The Porsche 944 valiantly soldiered on, at one point coming in with the rear brakes smoking and surviving a failing rear bearing to come home in 52nd position.
Racing4Vets Tampa endurance racing team includes two U.S. Army Veterans, an Air Force Veteran and Navy Veteran. The team’s two male and two female Veterans have achieved what no other service-disabled Veterans have in the United States — Successfully completing an endurance auto road race as a team in a car they built themselves on the first attempt. Not only did they finish the race, but they placed in the top 50% of the field against far more experienced teams in well-tested cars. These Veterans proved they are on track to not just compete, but to win.
Their six month road to Sebring was an intense effort by the Tampa team and Racing4Vets partners. Racing4Vets Tampa Veterans obtained the street Porsche 944 donated and established a working space at Chilly Performance to build their car. They stripped the Porsche’s interior, rebuilt the transmission, fabricated the roll cage, rebuilt the brakes and wheel bearings, installed transmission and oil coolers and added required safety equipment, including a fire system, main power switch, tow hooks, racing seat, racing harness and window nets. They outfitted their team with SFI-compliant racing driver equipment. The team tested their new car and driving skills at an autocross and track day. In six months Racing4Vets Tamps Veterans obtained sponsors and donors, completed their first endurance race car, passed driving and safety inspection, and successfully completed their first race.
The team’s amazing accomplishment is a testament to our Veterans’ integrity and determination to overcome their injuries and build a winning program for the future. Well done Racing4Vets Veterans!