Referred to as "The Fastest Road in the West," Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California, was the venue for the kick-off to the 2011 Redline Track Events season. On Sunday in the Pro Time Attack, Paul Brown, piloting the K&N Motorsports Infiniti G35, clocked a 1:24.830, a blistering lap-time that was good enough to earn a victory over all time attack classes. The Pro Time Attack consists of one car racing a ticking clock, with the best time attack drivers in the world pitting their skills against the most challenging tracks in the West.
Driver Paul Brown's blistering lap-time was good enough for the win over all time attack classes.
Virtually all of the work on the G35 was done in-house at K&N's Race Shop, headed by Research and Development manager, Dave Martis and his team.
The fan favorite G35 was in fact so impressive at Willow Springs that the Redline officials invited the K&N team to run with the big-guns in the televised Circuit Battles event. Dave Martis, one of K&N's Research and Development managers, spends much of his time in the race shop and laboratory overseeing projects such as the G35, so clearly he was the man we wanted to talk with.
What sort of overall effort and manpower was put into G35 to get it so quick right out of the box, and what are some of the changes that were made to the car?
"Contrary to what one might think, K&N has not spent tens of thousands of dollars on this car. Virtually all of the work has been done in-house, primarily by a couple of my guys and me working in the Race Shop. We are fortunate to have a machine shop, powder coating and tube bending facilities on site if needed. But we use these folks sparingly because their main mission is production of K&N products."
The fan favorite K&N Motorsports G35 was so impressive all weekend that the team was asked to run with the big-guns in the televised Circuit Battles event on Sunday.
"This year the car is quick out of the box as a result of what we learned last year, and, Steve William's (K&N Vice President of Research and Development) faith that we could make it a better car over the off season. It helps to have experience in racecar design and construction, plus apply careful planning, accurate execution and attention to detail to achieve the end result of a car that is competitive for the targeted race application. This was our main focus."
"Our plan this year is to compete as a Franchise Team in the Redline Pro Time Attack Series, Super Modified RWD class. We are sticking to that plan. I think it became evident to the folks running the Redline Track Events that the car was hot because it was turning very competitive lap times on Saturday and a ton of fans were being drawn to it. So, Executive VP, Jackson Stewart, approached me Saturday evening and invited K&N to participate in the Redline Pro Track Challenge's Circuit Battles on Sunday. I told him that we appreciated the offer, but I also wanted to stick with our plan and race for the Super Mod RWD win Sunday morning. Jackson said that would be fine, but in doing so, we would miss the Pro Track Challenge qualifying race (also Sunday morning) and we would have to start at the rear of the pack for the Pro race."
"I agreed, knowing we had a good chance to take the class win for the Time Attack event we entered, and I wasn't sure how the Pro Track thing would go off, since it was the inaugural event. I wanted to stick to the original plan to run Time Attack for a win and figured that getting invited to the Circuit Battle deal would be a nice way to wrap up the weekend."
In the Circuit Battle event, Paul Brown passed the LG Motorsports ALMS Corvette in the last turn, on the last lap, with a 110 mph, two wheels off in the dirt pass that had the crowds on their feet cheering.
How unusual is it for a Super Modified RWD to be asked to run with the big dogs, and what did that experience mean to you? Also how is the Circuit Battle going over with fans?
"For the Pro Track Challenge Circuit Battle competition, there is a qualifying race in the morning that determines your grid position for the start of a 'seeding race' which includes all competitors. The outcome of the this race determines the seeding order for the two lap Circuit Battle; pairing competitors up for a two lap battle for the chance to move on to the next race. The eliminations work on a ladder system, similar to rounds in drag racing. At the end you have a winner."
"One of the best battles of the day was between K&N's G35, driven by Paul Brown and LG Motorsports ALMS Corvette driven by Lou Gigliotti. This run will no doubt make it to the TV show. The match up was a two-lap shootout, a green-white-checker. Paul and Lou swapped leads a couple of times, to stay out front, Lou came down several times to block Paul's pass. On the last turn, on the last lap, Paul got a run on Lou coming into the straight, and in his classic style Lou blocked, but Paul put two wheels off in the dirt coming out of turn nine at over 110 mph to pass Lou and take the checked flag for the win. The entire grandstand crowd was on their feet. From my perspective, the fans seem to love this format of racing. Some of the match-ups result in really hard racing during the two lap sprint race shootout, and the quick succession of the rounds allows no time for things to get boring."
How did the concept for the G35 come together, and to what extent were you involved in the project?
"The G35 is a car that our Sports Marketing Dept. got from Infinity back in 2004, and it was originally built it as a show car for our SEMA booth. Afterward, it underwent a couple of iterations, and then was disassembled in preparation to make it a Drift Car. For various reasons it sat as a bare tub in the back of the shop. When I came onboard, I kind of inherited it and was asked to make it into something the company can use for exposure. Being a road racer, I had a weak desire to do the drift scene, so we looked to Time Attack which was highly popular with the 18-to-25 year old demographic."
"I was tasked with building the G35 for time attack competition and it debuted in 2009 in K&N's booth at SEMA. We ran a few time attack events in 2010 and learned quickly the car had potential, but it was limited by its relatively stock suspension and small tires. We did manage to podium twice with a first and third place at two of the events and ended the year in third-place for Super Modified RWD. I took responsibility for the car's development and now manage the K&N Motorsports race team for the G35."
"At the end of the 2010 season I was given the green light to make modifications to allow the car to be more competitive. I looked at the stock suspension and ended up completely re-working it, changing the geometry and all of the suspension links to make the car more responsive. These changes along with a new/wider body kit allowed us to use wider wheels and tires for increased traction. With the help of sponsors such as Lucas Oil, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tire, G-Stream, Mackin Industries and APR Performance, we were able to build a car that is able to compete with some of the fastest production based road race cars in the nation."
Round two of the Redline Track Events will be contested at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona, April 9-10.
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