The Baja Peninsula in Southern California and Northern Mexico may seem like a different world from the pine tree-lined hills of Road Atlanta. However, for Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing, it was a natural transition from the bumps and sand dunes of off-road competition to the American Le Mans Series.

The Las Vegas-based team made the leap without losing sight of the lessons learned in the grueling world of desert racing and without losing their winning way.

Michael Petersen and Dale White, namesakes of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, are fielding the GT class #31 Westward Ho Casino/ MMPIE/ PAWS/ XtraJet/ Justice Brothers Porsche 911 GT3 RS in this weekend's 10 hour or 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Great Britain's Johnny Mowlem and Californian Craig Stanton will split driving duties for the team. Mowlem and Petersen/White Lightning combined last season to finish second in GT class at the Petit Le Mans.

Petersen and White met while racing off-road trucks in the early 1980s and quickly became good friends and partners. Over the course of the next several years, they walked away with over 50 off-road victories including three-consecutive overall wins in the famous Baja 1000 and Baja 500. But after multiple off-road championships, the team sought new challenges and turned to sports car racing.

"When we were off-road racing you couldn't afford to have anything go wrong," said White reflecting on the similarities of the two endurance sports. "We learned fast that you had to make sure that you made it to the finish because in the middle of the night, in the middle of the desert, you don't pull into a garage, fix it and go. So, our first rule has always been: make the car finish. That means it is as good as it can be mechanically. That lets the drivers run fast without worry. We have a car that comes from Porsche as the best endurance car in the world and we have the best tyres with Michelin. But, there are several good teams with those pieces. What we have that is special is a great group of guys that know what it means to 'finish first, you must first finish.' That has always been our philosophy and has always worked for us."

Michael Petersen continued White's thought by saying: "In both off-road and road racing you must use patience because the races are long. A very good driver combination and a good team are the keys. Several factors come into play at both venues such as strategy and car preparation. The heat that you feel in the two cars is close and fatigue is definitely the thing to watch out for. When we send Johnny and Craig out, we tell them to run the car for the win. They know the guys have put the car together so they can focus on turning fast laps, not nursing the car."

Since moving to the ALMS, Petersen-owned cars prepared by White Lightning have a career 'running at the finish' statistic of 85 per cent to 96 per cent of those in the top-ten! Utilizing the experience from years of bouncing over dunes and rocks in the middle of the desert at night, the team has taken numerous endurance victories including this year's Road America 500. And, also earlier this season, in cooperation with rival Alex Job Racing, the team won the most prestigious sports car event in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

With a star-studded driver line-up as well as a crew and management seasoned in the lessons learned in the desert, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has the opportunity to again visit the top-step of the podium this weekend. For a team owned by a pair of guys trained to take blind jumps off of sand dunes in high-performance race trucks, landing on top just comes naturally.



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