Aspen drivers third at 24 Hours of Daytona
The Aspen Times
Aspen’s race-car driving brothers finished third at the prestigious Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona last weekend, just missing first place by 70 seconds — after 24 hours of endurance racing.
“We had a great race, but it is a little bittersweet any time you work that hard and come that close,” said Aspen’s Brian Frisselle, half of the Aspen racing duo. Frisselle and older brother Burt drove the No. 9 Action Express Racing Millennium Corvette prototype at Daytona International Speedway last weekend.
Early in the famed endurance event, the Frisselle brothers encountered a throttle problem that complicated matters for the drivers of their Corvette prototype. And they still had 17 hours of racing to endure.
“Early in the race, I was really pleased with my driving,” Brian Frissell said. “The car was very fast.”
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Then, the throttle delay changed the driver’s ability to shift and brake in the appropriate time frames.
“It was a downshifting nightmare,” Frissell said. “It was a new issue for the drivers, a small issue.”
“It hindered our ability to shift (in the usual pattern),” said Burt Frisselle, 32. “It made for downshifting challenges for sure.”
It also led to blistered palms as the drivers had to manually force the shift lever, absent the electronic shifting boost that was knocked out of whack by the throttle lag.
The drivers shift without using the clutch in the high-performance race car, using the left foot to brake like many NASCAR drivers.
“But nobody had an issue with it,” Burt Frisselle said. He and Brian and their two other driving partners managed to work the car through the last three-fourths of the race without incident — no spins, no slips, no contact with the walls.
“We went on to lead a bunch of laps. I was extremely pleased with how we drove,” Burt Frisselle said.
The sting of the close third-place finish was eased somewhat by the fact that their Action Express Racing companion team, led by Christian Fittipaldi, went on to win the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
“Their win was well deserved,” Brian Frisselle said, adding that the brothers have tremendous respect for Fittipaldi and his fellow drivers — Joao Barbosa of Portugal and Sebastien Bourdais of France.
“We’re all close friends,” Brian Frisselle said, adding that Fittipaldi has visited them in Aspen on ski trips.
The Daytona endurance win was the second for Fittipaldi and the third for Bourdais.
Fittipalidi is the son of former Grand Prix driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi and the nephew of two-time Formula One champ and Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.
French driver Fabien Giroix and Australian John Martin teamed with the Frisselles for Action Express Racing’s third place, giving the team two spots on the Daytona podium.
“It could have been closer at the end,” Brian Frisselle said. “But I had a lot of traffic to deal with in my last (stretch in the car). And we wanted to make sure we finished.”
He said the other complicating issue for the drivers at Daytona was the sensitivity of new, or cold, tires when they were rotated onto the car.
“You felt like you were driving on ice with sticker (new) tires,” Brian Frisselle said. “You had no grip.”
But, he said, the drivers handled the delicate new tires without a major issue.
And their team owner was ecstatic with a 1-3 finish, but hopeful of a 1-2 order.
“Our guys have all worked extremely hard to get the win,” team owner Bob Johnson said. “I am just as proud as can be that all of that hard work paid off.”
Fittipaldi also complimented the Frisselles and their performance in the No. 9 Corvette.
“I think the only thing that could have made it a little more special would have been if we could have finished 1-2, but obviously 1-3 is an awesome result,” Fittipaldi said. “And it’s a great result for Burt (Frisselle) and Brian (Frisselle) … Burt and Brian are working well (together). They definitely came alive.”
Brian Frisselle added the family’s perspective to the race last weekend.
“It is just a nice thing that we are blessed to be able to have success together (at Daytona) as a family,” Brian Frisselle said.
“Dad was on the podium … at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and he won the 12 Hours of Sebring. So Sebring is up next and hopefully we can match his mark there.”
The Frisselle brothers, who worked their way up the racing ladder with deep family racing ties, are longtime Aspen residents. They even raced snowmobiles for a time when they lived in new Hampshire.
Their mother is a Denver native and their father attended the University of Colorado in Boulder.
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.”
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