BimmerWorld: Elkhart Lake SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Preview

August 7th, 2008


For most racers and fans, the 4.048 mile Road America race track nestled in the picturesque town of Elkhart Lake is a place of fond memories and future aspirations. But don't count the drivers of the BimmerWorld BMW World Challenge racing team amongst those with nothing but happy tales to tell about the twisting Wisconsin circuit.

While they’ve all had highs and lows, the team’s mixed fortunes at Elkhart are a blend of comedy and misery. For Nick Esayian – pilot of the #34 Debt Cures BMW E90, the state is responsible for his college education and also his racing education.

“It was my home track when I started racing there in 1992 until I moved in late 1995. I had quite a few wins there along the way, but I’m still fishing for one in World Challenge.” You’ll have to excuse Nick–his memories of the track have a few gaps, thanks to one race that ended in unconsciousness! “Certainly one of my worst memories was getting KO’d in the Kink a few years back. I didn’t even remember my son’s 1st birthday party which occurred later that day.”

Team owner and driver James Clay, pilot of the #36 BimmerWorld BMW, has avoided head trauma at the track, but that’s not to say he hasn’t been knocked around a bit. “My last two World Challenge weekends at Elkhart amassed 4 incidents, split evenly between 2 barrel rolls and 2 walls. I love the track and I think it is about time it loved me!”

Lumps not withstanding, Road America has also left a few presents at Esayian’s doorstep. “My fondest memory was the Cat SCCA National in 1994. Chrysler arranged for me to get the first NEON ACR (American Club Racer) off the line so we could run the race and promote the ACR program. Something broke on the car the first practice lap and we had it towed back to Milwaukee. The late Jerry Zimmerman and I had to drive it back to the track that night after we fixed it in a blizzard on shaved tires! We were almost killed a dozen times during the drive. It’s a longer story with a lot of twists, foul weather and phalanx of great folks involved, but in the end, I think I finished 2nd to Galati in the race. It’s a grand track that brings back a lot of memories for me.”

Now racing the finest BMW touring car in North America, Esayian’s anxious to get this year’s race weekend underway. “The E90 should stretch its legs there, and we should do just fine, but I am done with predictions. The guys wrenching on our cars have done great work for us this year and they deserve a win. The time for talk is over.”

Seth Thomas hopes his #38 BMW E90 can push back against the Japanese cars that have remained in a favorable competitive specification all season. “They’ve won all 7 rounds this year, but I know our cars are capable of winning too. We’ve worked tirelessly all year. Let’s hope the Series steps up before the season is over.”

James Clay is in a similar frame of mind. “Certainly if we have a speed advantage we will do well and the sweeping corners help our cause, but if some of the other teams pull out more Mystery Speed Oil, we’ll be in store for another challenging event. We’ll know in a few days time.”

Unlike some race weekends that are held in less than inspiring venues, the BimmerWorld team is prepared to make the most of their time spent in the colorful surrounding’s of Wisconsin’s most famous race track. Clay sees the opportunity to enjoy the local foods as something that can’t be missed. “With the race on Sunday, I plan to be in Wisconsin for 5 hard days of work on the track. Unfortunately, this may eliminate a little bit of fun that the area offers, but we’ll be sure to make some time for double-brats and a bit of steak.”

Esayian’s goals for an overload of carnivorous delights and sampling the local libations are a notch or two above Clay’s. “Let the dining and drinking commence! Swartz’s is one of my favorite places to eat so I’ll most likely be hitting the prime rib there five nights straight, and then plan to wash it down with some booze to keep my heart from calcifying. No fancy atmosphere; just great food. My James Hunt years of bad behavior are over so I’ll save the heavy boozing for a post podium romp.”

Follow all of the action from Wisconsin this weekend at with driver blogs, photo galleries, and exclusive in-car videos for your viewing pleasure.


Courtesy: BimmerWorld Media Services
[email protected]

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