COSTA MESA, CA, SEPT. 10 – Former World Superbike and AMA Superbike Champion Scott Russell and motocross/Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael tested a Spirit of Daytona Porsche on Monday, September 8 at Daytona International Speedway with the pairing set to compete – along with road racer Jason Pridmore – in the car in the 24 Hours of Daytona in mid-January.
“It’s [Jason] Pridmore and Ricky [Carmichael] right now,” Russell said today from his home near Atlanta. “That’s the plan. I’ve heard James Stewart’s name mentioned, but just talking to Troy [Flis, the team manager/team owner]… and he would prefer three drivers. Right now it’s just us three. I’d rather keep it that way too, really. You get to drive more.
“I’m excited that this came up. It just popped up and it’s awesome.”
The Spirit of Daytona team is running a limited schedule in 2008 as it develops the Porsche Cayenne V-eight powerplant, according to Russell.
“It’s an older chassis,” Russell said. “It’s a development car that was introduced to the series this year – the other Porsches run the flat six and we’re running the V-eight. It’s a development type team and they didn’t run a full season this year – just select races. Their trying to bring that motor along is what they’re doing.” As for driving the car, apart from the intense heat, Russell was in a word – stoked. The Daytona test was his third in the car, the Georgian having previously tested it at both Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio.
“It’s kind of a handful at first, but once you get used to it awesome,” Russell said. “I was kind of taken aback by the thing when I first set in it at Watkins Glen. This is the third time I’ve driven it because I also drove it at Mid-Ohio and then here [Daytona]. Finally on the afternoon on Monday, I was able to kind of just look around and go, ‘Okay, I’m good with this.’ Knowing where the foot pedals and everything is at. It’s awesome. I tell you what, running around the banking on Monday I was like, ‘This is exciting.’ We had two and a half hours in the morning and couple hours in the afternoon. So Rick [Carmichael] was there, but [Jason] Pridmore was off to Bol ‘d Or so he wasn’t able to test it.”
The motorcycle guys weren’t the only ones to drive the car – and that gave Russell a measuring stick as to just how he was doing.
“They brought a car racer guy down to shake the car down and then they put me in it and then they put Ricky in it,” Russell said. “They also ended up putting Eddie Cheever and Christian Fittipaldi in our car too for a little bit and they were only a second faster than I was, so I was really happy with that. I’m pumped. They’re excited and my times are coming down. I’m finally in the window now where we can start looking at the computer and overlaying stuff and it meaning something. I’m getting that close. And that’s with only an hour and half in the car total. It’s unbelievable.”
The team is also hoping to attract sponsorship from within the motorcycle industry.
“It’s all motorcycle guys in a car team and what we’re trying to do is find some people in the motorcycle industry who want to sponsor because we want to just use motorcycle sponsors on that car,” Russell said. “So now I’ve got to pick up the phone and start calling around. They’ve got a pr guy who works with Jim France who is helping as well, so it should be good.”