In a sport best known for high-tech machines, one team recognises that its Porsche 911 GT3 RS, while a remarkable automobile, cannot prepare or drive itself.

Success comes from the effort put behind the machine, and that's where the group of people that Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has assembled separates it from others that focus more on technical than the human resources.

The past season marked Petersen/White Lightning's most successful sportscar racing season to-date. The Las Vegas-based team worked with Alex Job Racing to win the LM GT class at the prestigious 24 Heures du Mans in June but, proving that the Mike Petersen-owned and Dale White-managed team was also up to the task of winning against the factory-supported AJR effort, it also won the American Le Mans Series GT class at Road America.

Until an early accident ended the team's day while fighting for the lead at the season-closing Petit Le Mans, the #31 Porsche had finished inside the top-five in class in every event the team entered in 2003.

Despite not attending three races, the driving duo of Johnny Mowlem and Craig Stanton finished ninth in the final points chase for drivers, one point out of eighth place. The race team, directed by lead technician Kent Moore, finished the season as the third highest GT privateer entrant, fourth of all the GT class entries, while the team's success helped to win Porsche and Michelin their respective manufacturers' titles as well.

"The 2003 season has now come to the end - and what a wild ride it was!" Petersen reflected, "We started the year with a second at Sebring but, had there been just a few more minutes, we would have beaten Alex Job Racing. We then went to Le Mans and, with some luck, won on our first time over there. In Wisconsin, we got our first ALMS victory for the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing team, and it was great to have the whole team there to celebrate with us, as not all of them could be at Le Mans!

"The Petit Le Mans is a race we love... or is it? After running up front for the first hour, we were making a pass for the lead when we were punted off. Watching the car clobber the wall down the straight was very hard for us all, as we knew we were out. We have the hardest working crew - we are all like family - and it was so hard for us all for it to end that way.

"With the good things that happened throughout the year, however, we had to hold our heads up high with the good results we achieved as a team. I would like to thank the team for, without all of their hard work and long hours, we would not be the threat that we always are.

Johnny and Craig really rose to the occasion when we needed it. I also want to thank Dale for making things work so smoothly and running this team with me, first
as a friend, then as a partner! To all of the other sponsors that made this all possible and thank you to Porsche and Michelin for making terrific products. Last but not least, thank you Mom for making so many of my dreams come true. I can never thank you enough!"

Showing that racing is the ultimate team sport, Petersen/White Lightning has utilised the skills of dozens of team members to support the primary staff. The list of key members of the team over the course of the 2003 ALMS season included Petersen, White, Moore, Mowlem, Stanton, and team engineer Harry Haggard. Technicians Nico Castellaccio, Dennis Chizma, Chris Manfredi, Pat Williams, Darrin Rudicil, truck driver Sam Andrus and team tyre technician Bill Raifsnyder maintained the car throughout the year. The team's web site, petersenmotorsports.com, was designed and maintained by Andrew Salas.

White and Petersen based the season less on the win-loss column and more on the results of the team members.

"We have a great group of dedicated individuals that all want to be the best," they said, "Rewards for our group come from doing well and they all have the desire to win, you couldn't ask for anything more than that."

"Of the three years I've driven for Mike and Dale, 2003 was without a doubt our most successful," said two-time ALMS winner Mowlem, "The Road America win was obviously our highlight, but I'm also pleased that we showed throughout the whole year, in both qualifying and the race, that we could be extremely competitive.

"Given what we had at our disposal, I think it is a testament to everyone involved that we always raced in the top-three, and only failed to qualify in the top-three on two occasions. The fact that we went into the final round fighting for second in GT despite missing three races, shows that the team was the real deal and thoroughly deserved its success."

Stanton reviewed the season in his usual laidback, California way.

"The team gained a lot of momentum throughout the season - we all came together," he said, "I really enjoyed working with the guys this season. Porsche and Michelin gave us an incredible car to start with and the whole team put out just an amazing effort every weekend to give us an edge. It was a real honour to work with Mike, Dale, Harry, Johnny and the guys.

"Sportscar racing is gaining momentum, which I think is awesome. The fans have been great this year. I really appreciate all of their support and I'm looking forward to racing next season with Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing."

Extensive plans are underway for the 2004 season. While later announcements will confirm sponsorship, driver line-up and anticipated schedule, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing is motivated to achieve the team's highest success to date in the American Le Mans Series. To that end, the team just completed a move into a larger preparation facility in Las Vegas to further strengthen the charge for a season championship.

One key fact will never change at Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, however. The team and its success will always be all about the people.

 

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