RUHLMAN TO DRIVE WITH DERHAAG MOTORSPORTS TEAM IN GRAND AMERICAN ROLEX SPORTS CAR SERIES
Derhaag Motorsports has announced its full time entry into the Daytona Prototype category of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Association. No stranger to the series, having qualified on the GTS pole for the 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the team has signed top drivers Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman to drive the #40 Preformed Line Products Pontiac Riley. The team has added racecar engineer Buddy Fey and has slated top Chevrolet factory driver Ron Fellows to complete the driver lineup for the longer races.
"I am thrilled to have the whole team returning this year, with some excellent additions,” says team owner Jim Derhaag. “Last year, everything jelled. The crew worked hard, Randy won races; things just clicked. My team has raced in the Trans Am Series since 1982, and obviously, we are very saddened to see that Series go away. This move to Grand American with the Daytona Prototype is a milestone for us. The series is growing rapidly, and the knowledge and experience within Grand-Am is phenomenal. These cars have state-of-the-art technology and are driven by world-class drivers. We are excited to have such a great driver lineup for this year, with Randy and Chris as our full time drivers for 2006, and Ron coming in for the longer races. We are very excited about our future here!”
“We had a great year in 2005 in Trans-Am, but we've also been looking at Grand American for a while now," said Ruhlman, driver of the 2005 #49 Preformed Line Products Corvette for Derhaag Motorsports. "We were all set to run for the Trans-Am Championship this year, but when things collapsed at the last minute with Champ Car and Trans-Am, Jim Derhaag found a great opportunity for the team to move up to the Daytona Prototypes. The Rolex Series is a series that seems to be a natural for Derhaag Motorsports. They have the teamwork, exceptional organization, and a well-deserved reputation for putting together fast, reliable cars that give their drivers every chance of winning. That's exactly what it takes to succeed at these long races. This format will be a new experience for me and I'm excited to be teamed up with a driver of Chris' caliber.”
Joining Derhaag Motorsports after several successful seasons in Grand American is Chris Bingham, the 2001 and 2002 Rolex Series GTS Champion. “Following a turbulent season both owning and driving the #15 CB Motorsports Pontiac Riley and never quite reaching the levels of performance and results I felt we were capable of, this new opportunity is a welcome relief. I am in this series to race and to win and that is all,” said Bingham. “Owning the team last year distracted me from my goals and it became apparent I needed someone to handle the car and team and let me focus on the track. Jim and Derhaag Motorsports are the perfect fit for me, as they have such a strong reputation and pedigree. I have no doubt that 2006 will prove to be far more satisfying than last year. Driving with Randy and Ron next year will be a real treat and will undoubtedly help me push my game to a new level. Working with Jim, Buddy and the entire crew will be a privilege and I look forward to a successful and enjoyable 2006 season. I’d also like to thank KeyBank, McDonald Financial Group, Centurion Financial Group, Park Place Ltd, and Gatorz eyewear for their support this coming year.”
Bingham, of Bellevue, Washington, is a professional racing driver with an impressive resume and years of experience. He has competed in the Busch Grand National Series, open wheel racing in Indy Lights as well as IRL and has extensive endurance racing experience. As a two-time Rolex Sports Car Series GTS champion, Bingham was nominated as one of the "Best Road Racers of the Year" in 2002. He made his return to full time Rolex Series racing in 2004, piloting the #15 CB Motorsports car, before joining the Derhaag Motorsports team for 2006.
Ruhlman was the 2005 Trans-Am winner of the Long Beach Grand Prix and Cleveland Grand Prix races, was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year", and was runner up for the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship. Ruhlman, hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, has extensive racing experience, predominantly in road racing in the Trans-Am Series, as well as in IMSA, ASA and the NASCAR short track series.
Fellows, a veteran racer of many series, including NASCAR Nextel Cup, American Le Mans and Trans-Am, is a factory driver for Chevrolet and no stranger to 24-hour endurance racing. Fellows was an overall winner in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2001 with the factory Corvette team, as well as winning at Le Mans in GTS in 2001 and 2002. Fellows brings vast experience to the team for the longer venues and will be joining the effort for those races during the season, the first being the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The driver lineup will be complemented by the addition of new team engineer, Buddy Fey. Fey brings to the team a wealth of knowledge and racing experience, as well as an unsurpassed expertise in these technically demanding Daytona Prototype cars.
The Rolex Sports Car Series is the fastest growing road racing series in the world. Its beginnings and continuing ties to the NASCAR family of racing series affords it great visibility and longevity. The series has a full Television package on the SPEED Channel with the majority of races shown live or same day coverage.
Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona begins January 5th at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, as teams prepare for the Rolex 24, part of the Daytona NASCAR Speedweek events on January 26-29. Other Grand-Am events in the 14-race, 2006 season include the Long Beach Grand Prix, Mexico City, Homestead-Miami, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Phoenix, Virginia International, Barber Park (Birmingham, AL), Watkins Glen, Miller Motorsports Park (Salt Lake City), Mid-Ohio and Infineon Raceway.