Through The Esses - Donohue And Brumos Make A Change At 50
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© Andrew S. Hartwell

We recently took a minute to add up all the races held to date for the Daytona Prototypes that run in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. From modest beginnings rooted in a handful of cars from just three constructors taking to the track at the first race, this "new business model" for sportscar racing has sprouted into a very large - and green, as in financially successful - racing series. Adding up the numbers we learned the July 30th race at Barber Motorsports Park was the 50th for this modern day interpretation of American sportscar racing.

It all began at the 2003 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, with Dave Klym's Fabcar chassis leading the way. Championed since day one by the veteran and very talented Brumos Racing Team, led by owner Bob Snodgrass, the Fabcar was the first chassis to have, and the one to have to finish first. But that was three racing seasons ago and while the speed of time remains unchanged, over time speeds increase.

After 49 races with the Fabcar chassis, the Brumos team decided to make a switch. They purchased two new Riley chassis - one to be designated #58 for Darren Law and David Donohue to drive, and one to become car #59, for Hurley Haywood and JC France.

Brumos stuck with the original Fabcar chassis since the series first started. They endured while progress raced past them in the form of the Riley and Crawford built cars that dominated the podiums. They endured through every single race, despite the lack of success. They demonstrated complete support for the series and they certainly worked harder than anyone to try and turn the fortunes of the Fabcar chassis around.

And through it all, one man who was behind the wheel for Brumos at every race was David Donohue. For the 50th race, Brumos owner Bob Snodgrass decided it was finally time for Donohue, and his co-driver, Darren Law (another one who has raced in all 50 events, although not all with the same team) to try a new set of wheels. Snodgrass purchased a new Riley MKXI chassis (chassis #29!) and the team then set about debuting the car at Barber.

With just a short week to run some tests at Mid-Ohio, the team got the car to Barber, and set some pretty quick times out of the box. But no one gets a podium in this class, in this series, the first time they hit the track. Never mind the 49 races that came before, this time they were starting over with a new car that the team came to learn simply wasn't anything like the one they raced before.

We talked with David Donohue early in the week, before he was about to drive up to Watkins Glen for the Crown Royal 200, from his home in Pennsylvania. He gave us some insight into how the switch to a Riley chassis came about, and what lies ahead for this veteran team that is, in effect, starting over at the "age" of 49.

"Dave Klym needs to continue to develop the Fabcar as I feel there is still potential there. But, simply put, the way our schedule runs, and the level of competition just does not allow time for that kind of development. No one expected the series to have grown as quickly as it has. Not only in terms of the number of teams but also in the level of competitiveness and intensity."

In a team press release, Dave Klym echoed Donohue's suggestion that time away from the hectic pace of a race season is his best shot at getting his chassis back onto the grid. He said, With the time now available we can work on the parts of the chassis that we have identified and test our updated configurations in conjunction with Grand American's rules. I look forward to setting some more records with FABCAR as we did when the Daytona Prototype class started in 2003."

Donohue is, perhaps, the most qualified observer of the growth of this series, having been at every race since the beginning. He has seen the competition level increase significantly with each new race and he offers this example of how competitive this form of sportscar racin