Salinas, CA (May 17, 2007) – With their competitive driving deeply rooted in California, both Southard Motorsports' Daytona Prototype drivers are returning this weekend to one of their favorite home tracks, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As co-drivers of the team's No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley, Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis are looking forward to running together at the beautiful Monterey area track on Sunday, May 20th in Round Five of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal.
Both Lewis and Ruhlman have special memories of their successes at the road course at Laguna Seca, having started their long professional careers racing here and at tracks across the West Coast. The pair of California drivers have both worked hard and been lucky enough to have long-lasting careers as professional drivers in road racing. And together, they give Southard Motorsports one of the most potent one-two punches in the Grand-Am Rolex Cup Series, as well as one of its most personable driver combinations.
Randy Ruhlman, who went to college in Northern California at Stanford University, won numerous races at Laguna Seca in his early days with the SCCA Showroom Stock series, later returning to the track with success in the top-ranked Trans-Am Series. "This is a challenging track and one that I really look forward to running each year. It's like coming home again. I learned a lot of my racing here, and I love it," says Ruhlman.
A life-long Californian, Shane Lewis won his first major professional race here at Laguna Seca in the Bridgestone Supercar Championship, driving a self-prepared Corvette against a full field of factory entries and factory supported teams. Lewis calls that win, "Pretty much one of my top highlights and what pushed me to actually have a driving career. And this weekend, it's great to be back in California and to be able to race at Laguna again. I'm really looking forward to being back here again in the Prototype."
Along with co-driving the Southard Motorsports No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley, Lewis and Ruhlman have a lot in common -- both on and off the track. "We've both taught driving, have a lot of endurance driving experience and have both been full time, professional drivers since 1990. We even learned to drive on the same tracks," says Ruhlman. "But the funny thing is," adds Lewis, "is that while we have so much of our racing experience in common, we actually never met until last year. Randy was driving in the Trans-Am Series, and I was able to do well in several different series over the years and got a lot of 24-hour race experience. But we have a lot of the same experiences with teams and Series, and we get along so well. It's nice to have that kind of camaraderie with a teammate."
Fresh from their twelfth place finish at Virginia International Raceway, Ruhlman and Lewis are counting on their past race experience on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn track, where they both have won races and hope to continued to find success. This weekend's Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 20th and television coverage begins at 4 p.m. on the SPEED Channel.
This year, Lewis and Ruhlman drive the No. 3 Preformed Line Products Lexus Riley for Southard Motorsports. Lewis has driven for the Powell, Ohio-based team for the past four years and was part of the two podium finishes the team posted in 2006. Ruhlman joined the team this year after running in the Daytona Prototypes last year for Derhaag Motorsports, the team he won multiple races for in the Trans-Am Series.
The No. 3 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype is campaigned by Southard Motorsports of Powell, Ohio. The Riley chassis is powered by Lexus engines with technical expertise by TRD Engineering and carries sponsorship from Preformed Line Products from Mayfield Village, Ohio. Shane Lewis is a four-year veteran of the Southard Motorsports and part of the team's two Grand-Am podium finishes last year. Randy Ruhlman joined the team this year after running last year in Daytona Prototypes and following a successful career in the Trans-Am Series.
Lewis is widely considered one of the sports leading development drivers and has competed in twenty-four 24 Hour Races--nine-times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three-times at Le Mans and twice at Nürburgring. Always a fan favorite, Shane Lewis earned two Daytona Prototype podium finishes with Southard Motorsports in 2006, at the Long Beach Grand Prix and Phoenix. He has multiple wins in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series and was the 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing Rising Star award winner.
Randy Ruhlman has been a professional driver since 1990 and 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. Last year, Ruhlman drove the No. 40 Preformed Line Products Daytona Prototype for Derhaag Motorsports. Ruhlman was the top American driver in the 2005 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship, holding the points lead throughout the season and scoring a pair of wins--the season opener at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix. Ruhlman was named the 2005 BBS "Most Improved Driver of the Year" and makes the record books as fourth in Top Ten finishes in Trans-Am history.
Southard Motorsports reflects the goals and dedication of its owners, Steve and Martha Southard, both former drivers themselves in Historic and Professional racing. One of only two teams to have competed in every Grand American Rolex Daytona Prototype Sports Car event since 2004, they have shown the continuity and commitment that are hallmark to all winning programs and the team was pivotal in winning the inaugural Jim Truman Driver's Award. Southard Motorsports' experience and knowledge was highlighted by last year's successful Daytona Prototype season, as they captured two podium finishes, a third at the prestigious Long Beach Grand Prix and another third at Phoenix.
Preformed Line Products (PLP) is an international manufacturer and supplier of hardware and support systems for the communications and energy industries. Products include COYOTE® Fiber Optics and VORTEX® Vibration Dampers used in the telecommunications, cable and energy industries. Manufacturing facilities are located worldwide in the USA, Canada, China, Brazil, Mexico, England, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Thailand.