IMSA: DeltaWing revitalizes, improves its Braselton race shop

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The DeltaWing® Racing Cars team moved into a brand new race shop last week, vacating the workshop the team had shared with Élan Motorsports Technologies since March, 2013. This significant investment in a modern, dedicated space demonstrates a strong commitment to the revolutionary DeltaWing race car, the team and the competition future of the innovative program.

When new DeltaWing Racing Cars Team Manager Tim Keene came on board in June, he and Crew Chief Stef Chistel outlined plans for a purpose-built race shop. They envisioned a new space that could better support the team’s custom fabrication and car setup work while simplifying logistics and furthering the team’s ability to share ideas and solutions.

Accented with the DeltaWing Racing Cars team colors of black and red, the bright and climate-controlled shop has separate areas allowing crew to work on the chassis, gearbox, electronics and composite structures with ample room for tools and equipment. New office and meeting space also helps team communication and coordination. The workshop is adjacent to a large warehouse that provides secure garage space for the team transporter and affords plenty of room for the crew to load/unload the race car, pit equipment and the DeltaWing coupe bodywork.

When DeltaWing Managing Partner Don Panoz formed the team in January 2013, they set up shop on the Braselton, Ga. business complex that was home to the core of the Panoz racing family of companies, including Élan Motorsports Technologies, Élan Power Products, and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). The team shared space with Élan Motorsports Technologies, working on the DeltaWing alongside builds of the IMSA Prototype Lites Élan DP02 race car and the Élan Van Diemen DP08 chassis.

“The new space is beautiful and important,” Panoz said. “It’s an investment in our plan for the future, not only for the DeltaWing team but also for Élan and its growth plans.”

Though now in their own dedicated shop, the team continues to make use of the resources available in other parts of the expansive complex, including composite assistance from Élan Motorsports Technologies and Élan Composites, and engine work from Élan Power Products.

NHRA: Antron Brown on verge of earning 50th career Top Fuel win this weekend at Phoenix

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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When you’re used to winning championships – like three in the previous five seasons – any other season finish is disappointing.

That’s kind of how NHRA Top Fuel dragster driver Antron Brown looked at his fourth-place showing in the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“At the end of the day, we had a very competitive season last year and made it to 10 final rounds,” Brown said. “But we got into the Countdown (NHRA’s six-race playoffs) and our timing was off.

“We struggled with a lot of problems we don’t usually have. Now it’s time for a new chapter for this team and time to get better. This is a new beginning for us and it’s going to be fun and exciting and we’re coming after them.”

Antron Brown hugs the NHRA Top Fuel championship trophy after winning it in 2016. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Brown had a good start to 2018, reaching the semifinals before losing to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

“We had a great performance at Pomona and I couldn’t be more proud of what our Matco/Toyota guys did,” Brown said. “Now we are going to Phoenix where we’ve won three times (2009, 2012 and 2014, and was runner-up in 2011) and we’ll just try to hit it hard and get a fourth.”

Next up on the NHRA 24-race national event circuit is the second race of the season, this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix (Chandler, Arizona).

Brown has definite plans to make it four wins in Phoenix. And if he does that Sunday, he’ll set a significant career milestone: it would be his 50th career win driving a Top Fueler and the 66th win overall (he won 16 races in Pro Stock Motorcycle before shifting from two to four wheels).

In so doing, Brown would become only the fourth Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to hit the 50-win mark. The others are Tony Schumacher (83), Larry Dixon (62) and Joe Amato (52).

This will be the second time Brown has been racing in Phoenix this month. He was part of the preseason test there for Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock cars a week before the season began.

“Testing went really well there,” said Brown, leaving him optimistic that he can reach victory circle once again. “I love going back to Phoenix.”

Brown has been the most dominant driver in NHRA Top Fuel competition since 2012, winning more than twice the number of races (34) than the next most successful Top Fuel driver (16 by Schumacher) in that time period.

He also has a 71 percent overall win percentage, which exceeds both eight-time Top Fuel champ Schumacher and 16-time Funny Car champ John Force.

“I’m just pumped up, feeling like we’ve got some unfinished business from last year,” Brown said. “We had a good outing but didn’t close the deal, so this year, we’re looking forward to getting back there and getting off to a great start.”

NOTES: Brown will serve as honorary pace car driver for the March 4th Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas. He’ll be joined by teammates Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett in a weekend full of activities that they’ll all be involved in.

“I’m really excited,” Brown said. “It’s going to be my first experience as a pace car driver, and I’m just super stoked to go out there and drive the Camry pace car for Pennzoil and start those NASCAR boys off the right way. Throttle down, pedal to the metal. I just want them to get off to a great start.”

Brown has won four times at The Strip, the drag strip adjacent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s an honor to be out there with such talented drivers, and I know I’m going to really enjoy watching our NASCAR counterparts.”

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