Pushing Through at Daytona
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
27 January 2024
In racing, victory depends entirely upon the marriage of human skill and mechanical performance.
One doesn’t go without the other. When things go well, person and machine harmonize to move at blistering speeds. When they don’t, the long trip back to the paddock seemingly takes forever.
This past weekend, the realities of racing were on full display in Racing to End Alzheimer’s return to the track for the 2024 season. With a lineup of familiar faces set to take the wheel, we partnered with Hattori Motorsports to field a souped-up Toyota Supra GT4 at Daytona International Speedway for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge support race of the Rolex 24.
All Star Cast, Fickle Fuel Pump
Along with partner Mark Kvamme and friend of Racing to End Alzheimer’s Matt Forbush, Nick Galante came into Saturday hoping to tap into the success that has earned him multiple Pilot Challenge championships. In front of a massive international crowd, the purple and white clad Toyota rolled up to the start line with the promise of a new year glinting in its headlights.
Unfortunately, the promise was short-lived.
Three or four laps into the opening leg, driver Mark Kvamme noticed that the car was cutting out early in higher gears, meaning he had no chance of keeping pace on the straightaways. Though the GT4 performed well around the infield in lower gears, the lack of speed forced the team to retreat to the garage for repairs.
After some troubleshooting, the engineers zeroed in on a faulty fuel pump. But, even for well-seasoned mechanics, this was a tough fix. The fuel pump sits right above the red-hot turbo, so any fuel that splashes can easily start a disastrous fire. Not for the faint of heart, or the shaky of hands.
The engineers proceeded unfazed, replacing the fuel pump along with the power steering. A true feat of mechanical prowess, the repair nonetheless left the team nearly an hour out of the race. For the Racing to End Alzheimer’s crew, the rest of the event would be devoted purely to the love of driving.
For the Sake of Racing
When Mark Kvamme got back out onto the track, it was clear that the podium was a very long way off. Despite the setback, Mark came out firing and set the tone for the rest of the race. Laying down consistent lap after consistent lap, Kvamme exhibited the never-say-die attitude we’ve come to expect from him.
Matt Forbush was up next, displaying remarkable resolve and capability through the middle part of the race. Like Kvamme, he put his head down and churned out solid laps, one after another.
When the reins came to Nick Galante, we all should’ve expected what would happen next. In the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Galante is a force to be reckoned with. Working from behind, he never let up, pushing the No. 51 GT4 up four spots in the GS class. By the time the checkered flag waved, Racing to End Alzheimer’s was in 22nd place in class, a finish that seemed nearly impossible from the garage just hours before.
Though we hope to reach more podiums this season, last weekend’s race at Daytona once again solidified something in our minds. When you love something, you don’t give up on it.