Aspen race-car drivers gear up for Daytona
January 23, 2014
Like fast driving?
Check out these Aspen brothers.
Burt and Brian Frisselle will launch the new motorsports season Saturday at the famed Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
They'll be behind the wheel of the No. 9 Corvette Daytona Prototype car as they make their 10th start at the Daytona endurance event.
"Unlike football, we kick off our Super Bowl to start the year," said 32-year-old Burt Frisselle, the older of the two brothers. "There's nothing in sports-car racing in America … that a driver covets more than a (winner's) Rolex watch from Daytona."
Brian Frisselle, 30, said it's exciting to start the season at the historic Daytona International Speedway because of its rich history.
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"You see all the different drivers there … NASCAR, Formula One, IndyCar. … So many drivers, so much history," Brian Frisselle said.
The two brothers drive for Action Express Racing in the endurance sports car racing series owned and operated by the NASCAR organization.
After Daytona, the Frisselles will go to another historic track for the 12 Hours of Sebring.
"Actually, it all starts with our grandpa," Burt Frisselle said of the family ties to motorsports.
"Grandpa was a motorsports enthusiast," Burt said, adding that their grandfather died before they knew him. "But he passed that passion down to our father."
Papa Brad Frisselle started to pursue racing while a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
"He bought a race car and started traveling around to regional races," Burt said.
Brad Frisselle worked his way up the racing ladder, winning an IMSA championship in 1979 and also taking a 12 Hours of Sebring victory.
As the Frisselle family started to grow with a daughter and then two sons, Brad Frisselle opted to step out of the driver's seat and into the front office.
"He crossed the bridge and decided to put Al Unser in the car," Brian Frisselle said.
Good choice, obviously.
The race team was located in El Segundo, Calif., at the time. And of course, the two young Frisselles couldn't wait to start driving.
Burt Frisselle's Christmas wish list as an 11-year-old started with the Jim Hall Carting School in Ventura, Calif.
"Once I did that, it was all over," Burt said of the path to professional driving.
The family moved to New Hampshire, and the Frisselles switched to snowmobiles.
But before long, both brothers were working the regional auto-racing circuits and moving up — fast.
"IndyCar was the goal from the beginning," Brian Frisselle said.
But the world of open-wheel racing at that time was split between two organizing groups and struggling to establish an identity.
NASCAR and the France family, on the other hand, were on a roll, including a sports-car series.
Burt started in that direction; Brian was right behind.
Now, they are ready for another Rolex 245 Hours of Daytona.
"We've been a gypsy family, but my mom is a Denver native," Brian Frisselle said, adding that family was a big reason the two brothers ended up in Aspen.
"We were living in Hawaii at the time," he said. "And we are very much dog people, and our dog had just passed."
They went to the mainland to get a new dog. But with quarantine rules, they had to wait six months to take the dog back to Hawaii.
The Frisselle brothers had a cousin and an uncle who lived in Aspen.
"So we rented a house in Aspen for six months, … and we never went back," Brian Frisselle said. "We fell in love with the town."
At a point in their racing careers where they could select where they lived, "We chose Aspen," Brian Frisselle said.
"There's no better place for someone in a sport to train than in Aspen," Burt Frisselle said.
With an eye on this weekend's 24 Hours of Daytona, Burt Frisselle said the training they do in Aspen is critical to their performance in the endurance race.
And there are extra challenges.
"The most difficult thing is, No. 1, not making a single mistake, especially with how bullet-proof the cars are now," Brian said. "It is a survival race, … but the equipment generally is going to hold up."
He said the human factor will be the key considering that in each stint in the car, they will be making "thousands upon thousands of downshifts in the race."
A missed shift or an over-rev could spell disaster.
Plus, the drivers have to take care of themselves during the 24-hour race.
"We lose fluids at a remarkable rate," Burt Frisselle said, adding that the brothers use Osmo hydration products — like cycling sensation Peter Sagan, of Slovakia, who won four stages of the USA Pro Challenge bike race in Colorado last summer, including the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race.
While they try to stay hydrated inside, the brothers also have to cope with "water" on the outside.
Daytona is famed for showers, heavy rain, fog and lightning.
"Rain adds stress for the driver," Burt Frisselle said. "There's puddling at Daytona that we get. Rain makes a mistake so much easier."
But the two brothers won't trade those challenges for any other.
Said Burt Frisselle, "The endurance challenge suits our passion about this sport."