October 4, 2000

By Buzz Fyhrie C5R# W0564
To all you Corvetter Registry Members out there,
Got back Sunday night from my 9 hour all day Sunday drive from Road Atlanta to sunny & warm Ft. Lauderdale.
I feel sorry for any of you who missed the Petite LeMans race and especially then conclusion of an extremely exciting Corvette vs. Viper shootout race which was raced right down to the wire on the last lap.
Here's my story of being in the "right place at the right time" at Road Atlanta.

Early Saturday morning I spent a few minutes chatting with Andy Pilgrim in the Corvette paddock area. (Years ago {1987}, Andy & I both drove for the factory Pontiac Firebird team (Mr. Joe's Racing) in the old IMSA Firehawk Series. That's how I originally met Andy and now his computer software company now does my insurance agency's website work.) On one of my subsequent visits back to the Corvette Paddock area Andy came up to me and said they might need some help as the teams "spotters" hadn't arrived and to check back with him at 10:00. At 10:00 Andy said to come back at 11:00 as the expected help (friends of Ron Fellows) were still supposedly enroute. At my 11:00 check in with Andy he said it was a "go" and to grab some food from the Corvette hospitality area as we had work to do.

We then had a quick huddle meeting with Ian (a friend of Andy's & spotter #2) and the three drivers of Corvette #4; Andy, Franc Freon, & Kelly Collins to discuss exactly what information they would want to hear from us during the race over the radios. We were told to keep it brief, tell them when a faster prototype car was behind them, what the car # or description was if possible (Cadillac, Panoz, BMW or Audi) and on what side they would be passing and to not expect a response back from the drivers as they would be to busy. We were also versed with proper radio procedure, the 1 sec delay due to the repeater station, head set fit up and two fresh batteries and we were off to our "spotter" stations. (Thanks to Russ Schmidt (C5R# W0789) C5 Registry member, for the ride in his golf cart so I didn't have to climb that steep hill one more time.) I had asked Andy for the turn ten area for my spotter position as it would be next to the C5 Registry Corvette Corral and my cooler in my Corvette.

For the next ten hours I did my job as best as possible including radioing out a report that "Bambi" was loose on the track crossing over turn 10 and then headed down the hill for turn 12. That was really weird. There were lots of opportunities to advise the drivers of faster overtaking cars and listening in on the communications between the drivers and the pit crew. Including the dramatic moment when Kelly Collins went out after a pit stop & tire change only to scream back to the pits that the car was in trouble, scary and almost undriveable. Turns out the crew had cross threaded one of the wheel nuts (remember only one big nut per wheel) and it had tightened up with out tightening the wheel to the hub. A slow lap back with a wobbly wheel and loss of their 1st pace position and back to the pits for a replacement wheel & nut and they were back at it but now back in forth place. And so it went for the next 10 hours. But boy did it go by fast.

I can't even begin to tell you what a thrill it was to get the opportunity to be a small part of the team that WON!

After the race and while Andy and the other first three place GTS team drivers were waiting to get on the winners platform and while he was surrounded by his co-drivers, all his fellow Corvette Crew and the Pit Team members Andy asked if the spotters (Ian, another friend of Andy's) were present. I raised my hand in the jammed and jubilant crowd and said "spotter here". Andy then at length praised the tremendous help we all were in preventing several possible racing collision with the faster prototype cars. The whole Corvette team then turned around and cheered me! What goose bumps I got!!! The two other Corvette #4 team drivers (Franc Freon & Kelly Collins) then both came up to me and equally sincerely thanked me for my assistance in helping them win the race! Brings more goose bumps and tears to my eyes just to think about it again.


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