WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (2 July 2021) – Rebel Rock Racing planned to spend a relaxing four days in the scenic Finger Lakes Region while preparing for Friday’s Sahlen’s 120 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event at Watkins Glen International.
However, those plans quickly changed when the No. 71 Urban Grid Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R was badly damaged in an accident early in Saturday’s Tioga Downs 240 at the circuit. Suddenly, it became the “Race to Recovery” to have a car ready for drivers Frank DePew and Robin Liddell for the second race at the historic 3.4-mile venue in seven days.
DePew crashed in Turn 8 on the seventh lap of Saturday’s race. Running a little wide exiting the turn, trouble came quickly when he steered to avoid a temporary sponsor sign that had been placed in the runoff area just prior to the race. The Camaro then slid across the track and crashed head-on into a tire barrier. The hit ruptured the oil tank and tore up everything in front of the engine.
The team initially feared that the car was not fixable at the track, and so they started making plans to collect the spare car from their workshop in Florida. However, Mike Flynn, owner of Irish Mike’s Racing, happened to be at the Glen due to his team competing in a support race. Located in Orlando near the Rebel Rock Shop, Irish Mike’s does the team’s body repairs.
“We were incredibly lucky that Mike was still at the track and came over to look at our damaged car,” said Liddell. “ He knows our Camaros well and whilst he was initially a little skeptical about the repair he went to work on it and performed some magic with just a few hand tools.”
“Mike is hands down the best chassis repair guy in the business. Watching him bend and bash the twisted chassis leg into shape was really impressive and within several hours we knew that we could rebuild the damaged car, rather than have to drive the spare car up from Florida.”
Rebel Rock is grateful to have borrowed a couple of parts from TGM, which also runs a Camaro in the series, but had all the other pieces on the team hauler.
“Other than that, we had everything we needed, we have to be pretty self-sufficient, and given the quick turnaround between races, we had already discussed contingency plans in case something like this happened.” said DePew.
The whole Rebel Rock Racing team did a superb job of rebuilding the car and were still able to enjoy one day off to enjoy the local sights – whilst being ready to go for opening practice on Thursday afternoon.
The lone practice session for the Sahlen’s 120 will be Thursday at 3:35 p.m. ET, followed by qualifying at 8:15 p.m. The two-hour race takes the green flag 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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