Forest Barber – Daytona Winner
And He Still Can’t Quite Believe It

dailysportscar.comAfter winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the Bell Motorsports Doran Pontiac, Forest Barber is now the proud owner of the coveted Rolex watch that goes to each winning driver. His comment about it was a simple, “yeah, it is heavy, but a weight I'll have to bear, I guess.” Gary Horrocks helps relate the tale.

“It’s really great to give Pontiac their initial win in the Grand Am and I think they are appreciative of what we were able to accomplish. We were also able bring Kodak, our primary sponsor for the full season, a great win to start the year with us.”

Forest went on to explain that the markings at Daytona were an interim scheme, which will be replaced by a whole new design for the rest of the season - which will be seen at the next race at Homestead.

The victory almost didn’t happen though. About 10 hours into the race, the engine temperatures started to go rather high, peaking once at 240F.

“We had started with some of the radiator taped to keep the temperature up, but then we had a couple offs which collected some sand into the radiator, blocking the flow. Then we also had the opening completely blocked by a wind shield vinyl from a Racer’s Group Porsche.”

But that was not the end of their worries. “We really were concerned about firing up the engine after the long red. With the sudden shut down causing the car to cool so quickly, we just weren’t sure what was going to happen when we went to start up. On top of that, the red also came out a lap before we were to come in for fuel. We were trying to find out what we could do, and what we had to do was wait for a lap of green before we could come in to refuel. I’m not sure if we could have made it much longer that we did.”

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dailysportscar.comOn the topic of the weather, “Both Andy (Pilgrim) and Terry (Borcheller) said that they could not remember anything as bad as this race. Both compared it to Le Mans in 2001, but thought that this was still worse. Terry told me that going red was the right decision, as just before they called it, one of the Citgo cars hydroplaned right off the track in front of him while going all of 20 mph.”

“We were aware of the possibility of rain for the race, but we just didn’t expect it to be of such Biblical magnitude. Because of that, I didn’t get into the car till late. I just didn’t want to put myself into a position where I could damage our chances at the victory. We all worked really hard to get to this point and as Terry, Andy and Christian (Fittipaldi) are all good in the rain, I figured it was best to wait it out. As long as we were in striking distance of the lead, I thought it was best to stay out of it. I am a terrible spectator, which made it even more difficult to watch. Usually, I just stayed out of the way, sometimes shuttling the drivers back to the motor home.”

So, did the “Biblical” rains make you as a team, change your plans or the way you approached the race? “Well, not really. We stayed with our plans, but when we started overheating, that is when things changed. As the off course excursion was weather related, maybe, indirectly we did change because of the weather. Andy did a terrific triple stint at the end of the race, and we might not have won it, or even made it to the end, without him doing such a great job managing the engine situation.”

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Forest acknowledged that there was discussion concerning the tire situation. “Yes, there was talk up and down pit lane about the tires. We had scavenged tires from other teams, so it really did not become an issue for us at all. As far as the red coming out to conserve the tires, well, I just don’t really know. To me, I think the red lasted about half an hour longer that I thought was correct, but then again, I could not see all of the track. Just as we started to go green, the rain came back again, so it is really difficult to say what the correct decision was.”

dailysportscar.comOn the quality of the field this year, Forest stated, “ I really thought we had a quality field here. Of course, many of the prototype cars were new, but even the GT classes were good, top to bottom. I do think that the Doran chassis did show what a good car that it is. We worked closely last season with Kevin (Doran) and developed the car, and in fact, last year should have been viewed as a development year for us. That we won the Championship with the slow start that we had is amazing. It just shows how good a package that Kevin has put together.” At Daytona, Cole Scrogham of G&W Motorsports remarked that when he gets his Doran, they will immediately start testing it, and won’t have to do the usual tear down and rebuild that many cars have to go through. “Yes, that is how good the Doran is. I’m anxious to see how they perform with that BMW motor. They could be strong.”

“As far as winning the race, I guess it hasn’t really sunk in yet. It is amazing that in only three years of racing, I find myself on a team that won Daytona. All of the team worked hard to get us this result. Our preparation and hard work all paid off. I still can’t believe it.”

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