Martin Wins Detroit World Challenge GTS Race
Rehagen Racing Press Release Just six days prior to the Detroit Grand Prix, Dean Martin inked a final deal with Picture Cars East, Inc., and Grand Sanitation to co-sponsor his Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang for the weekend on Belle Isle. While Martin is a veteran racer in the GRAND-AM GS and NASA’s American Iron classes, he made his SCCA World Challenge debut as a rookie in the GTS class.
Martin’s No. 50 is an amazing story. When the possibility to race in Detroit arose, the team at Rehagen Racing began building this new car just 12 days prior to the start of the event. With the Memorial Day holiday falling during the build period, it was going to be a tall order to complete the build on time. With only hours to spare, the Ford Mustang was ready to hit the track for Friday morning’s practice.
Martin’s No. 50 Mustang donned a black band through the number 50 on his side number panels to pay tribute to his friend and 2011 GTS Champion Paul Brown who passed away last year after a short bout with cancer.
Martin qualified fifth for Saturday’s GTS race — the top qualifying Ford Mustang in the field. He ultimately finished in the fourth spot, just one spot off the podium. It was an outstanding result for his first foray into World Challenge with a brand new car.
Sunday’s qualifying began with drama. On the out lap exiting Turn 2, Martin was heating tires and brakes when his car shut down stranding him on the long straightaway just off Turn 2. Track workers pulled him back off the track into a safety station where crew members could tend to the car.
After pumping the fuel level to a low level for qualifying, the connector for the fuel pump did not get fully engaged, and the aggressive driving and bumpy track jarred the connector loose and shut off the fuel supply. After the quick service, Martin was out on track turning laps.
Slower moving cars hindered his first two qualifying laps. On his final flying lap, Martin was 1.4 seconds ahead of his fastest prior lap, but a crash brought out a red flag, ending the qualifying session. This relegated Martin to the eighth position on the starting grid.
At the start of Sunday’s race, Martin was trying to conserve tires for the first half of the race. Mark Wilkins was making this difficult with a lot of pressure from behind. Wilkins got past Martin in the early stages of the race, but midway through the race, Martin made a great double pass on Wilkins and Cunningham into Turn 7 putting him into fourth. Shortly following that move, a full-course caution came out bunching up the field.
On the restart, a five-car crash brought out another lengthy full-course caution. This would leave only eight minutes left when racing resumed. It was setting up to be a true street fight on the streets of Detroit as desperation would surely befall many of the competitors. On the restart, two GT class cars got together heading into Turn 3, causing mayhem in the corner. Everyone behind the incident had to take evasive action and Martin took full advantage and pounced once he cleared the incident. He was able to pull off three passes between Turns 3 and 4, snatching the lead from the Camaro of Lawson Aschenbach.
Just a few corners later, the full-course caution came out again and as the drivers passed under the flag stand at the finish line, they were shown the white flag signaling the final lap of the race. The race finished under caution with Martin claiming the top spot on the podium in his first race weekend in SCCA World Challenge.
“We’re thrilled at the victory in our first outing in World Challenge,” said Martin. “I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to my friend Paul Brown than to put the #50 back on the top of the box.”
The Detroit Grand Prix was a one-off event for Martin and his sponsors. With the great success from the weekend, the team is looking for sponsors for more races this season and a full season of World Challenge competition for the 2014 season.