Pontiac GTO Race Car
When I arrived at Sebring, I had not seen a Pontiac GTO in person yet, but at Sebring I saw 3 road cars, and 1 race GTO that will be driven by Stu Hayner in this year's Speed Channel GT series. The crew was very friendly, and I was able to talk to them quite a bit.
This car was actually bought from a dealership as a street car, and then converted into a race car, in less than 10 weeks by a crew of four people! Many of the cars in the series don't start out like this. When I talked to a member of a Dodge Viper crew, they told me that a Dodge Viper didn't even exist that looks like the coupe that they are racing (and there about a dozen of them!). It reminded me of the old days of NASCAR where all the race cars started out as street cars.
If I recall correctly, most of the drivetrain is stock with the exception of the engine, which they has been modified to gain more power. The original console remains in the car, it even has the stock shifter lever for the T-56 6-speed manual transmission. It also has the stock independent suspension rear end (which wasn't good enough for racing duties, and took them out of the race).
Some other tidbits about the car: The hood is custom carbon-fiber piece. The nose and front fenders is kind of a mix of stock pieces and carbon-fiber things because they ran into some problems fabricating stuff. The race officials also wan't them to make some modifications to get the car within all race specifications for their next race.
The doors are stock (and gutted). The rear view mirrors (on the doors) are stock, and still retain the electical motors. They weren't operational this race, but at the drivers request, they will be operational at the next race. The doors still have the manufacturing sticker on them from the factory, and even the stock door sills. The steering column is still the stock one (with the key lock removed), and console still has buttons for controlling the windows (which it doesn't have). The wheels center caps say Holden Motorsports, a link back to it's Australian Monaro roots.
The crew said the Monaro race team has been great support for them, and ironically, Pontiac's and GM's support has been non-existant. GM only wants to race the GTO in the Grand-Am series, and apparently doesn't want the GTO competing against their brand new Cadillac GT program. It mystifies me, because this GTO is going racing in this series whether GM likes it or not, why not give these guys a little support so the car performs well.
The GTO team spent most of their practice sessions getting the new car bugs out; it hit the track for it's very first laps on Thursday. They could have made it out sooner, but their trailer was actually broken and they couldn't get the car out till Thursday. On the race track they discovered that they will need to have more horsepower (which wasn't really a big deal to them because it can easily be fixed). During the race they also had contact with another car, and caused one of the half shafts to break. They knew the rear end was probably going to be a weak link, so it was no huge surprise.
To find out more information about this GTO and the latest news on it, visit Autosport Development's website at http://goautosport.com.
--- Article last updated: March 21, 2004 ---