Sebring 12-Hour Teamwork

Powered by Mazda

Everything was in alignment.  Mazda, BP, Yokohama, Castrol, and the crew and drivers of B-K Motorsports had all contributed their heart, souls, sweat, and time into bringing a fast race car to Sebring for the 56th annual 12-Hours of Sebring race.  

No one could have predicted what was to come on the second flying lap of Qualifying on Thursday.  My teammate Ben Devlin was just entering Turn 1 on his second flier when somehow the car snapped left into a neck straining oversteer.  Ben did everything he could to make the car go straight, but it pulled hard left into the concrete wall at the apex of the corner.  In the next instant, air got underneath the chassis, picking Ben up like a paper airplane and tossing him straight across the surface and into the outside tire wall.  The car was destroyed, but thankfully, Ben was not hurt.  

Even before the car had returned on the wrecker to our paddock space, the team was unloading the spare tub.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Here was this painfully ruined race car, and our incredible B-K Motorsports crew taking ownership to rebuild a brand new car from a spare tub.  In the time that ensued, a new car was built from scratch in 24 hours.  We made it through tech inspection on Friday just before it closed.  Afterwards, the crew continued to prepare the car for a 12-hour race the next day.  Most teams were putting the finishing touches on their polished race cars.  We built a new one.  The team even applied every bit of color, BP, Castrol, Mazda, and other partner logos all in place in time for the morning warmup.

On Saturday morning Ben took the new car on track for the warmup session.  Sure, there were a few issues that cropped up as they always do with a newly assembled car, but it ran great.  We returned to our paddock to complete our preparations and fix the few issues.  That's when we discovered a fuel leak.  It was surreal watching the crew tear into this car to find the leak.  Our engineers were all involved, including support from our chassis manufacturer, Lola.  They were trying to save our race.  Finally, we ran out of time.  The leak could not be fixed before the 1-hour time cutoff in the series rules.  We had to do at least one lap before one hour of racing elapsed.  There were tears everywhere.

In the aftermath, our team assembled for a meeting where every partner took the time to thank every member of the team for giving every ounce of energy they had over the previous six days.  It was in this moment that I felt the collective energy of my team in a way never felt before.  Our team had grown in strength and come closer together through adversity you couldn't dream up.  

We are extremely excited about our next race, coming up on April 5th at the downtown street course in St. Petersburg, FL.  Join us in person, or on ABC at 1:30 PM Eastern time.

Thanks for your support,


© Gerardo Bonilla 2015