A Race Weekend Of Firsts
San Ramon, CA – This was a long time coming: Marion Engelke’s first ever race in USTCC – United States Touring Car Championship (and fifth of her race career). Well-prepared by coach Dave Brown who helped Marion advance through NASA HPDE and Time Trials, Marion got her provisional race license in late March, immediately followed by her first race in NASA Group C.
While Marion worked on improving her lap times, her car, the 2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII named “EleventyOne” received all preparations needed by Chris Hovey at Life Is Good Racing to be entered into TC for USTCC. The final piece was getting the dyno sheet for her #11 Mitsubishi EVO VIII from the Works shop at Sonoma Raceway.
In order for Marion to manage her limited Hankook tire contingent for the USTCC season, Red Panther Motorsport’s team worked hard to facilitate several tire changes throughout the weekend. In addition to USTCC, Marion also participated in two races with NASA’s Group C.
During Qualifying on the new rims and tires on Saturday, Marion set her personal best time at 2 minutes flat. In Qualifying on Sunday, she topped this time and ran a 1 minute 58 second’s lap. But her best time this weekend didn’t stay there: in the race, she had several laps at 1 minute 56 seconds – proper touring car times!
The standing start was another first, and while Marion managed to get off the line, she didn’t take full advantage of her Evo’s four-wheel drive. Still, she stayed with the field and even chased Ali Arsham in the #33 Hyundai Genesis. Working through a couple of overall position changes in the 14-lap race, Marion placed fifth in TC.
Marion beams as she comments, “This was a fantastic experience! Everything came together beautifully: the car felt great, the new tires had so much grip, the standing race start, the chase of another TC car, and making it to the checkered flag – I couldn’t have hoped for a better first race in USTCC! All of this was expertly supported by Team RPM with the best crew chief, Chris Hovey, driver coach, Dave Brown, team manager, John Lothrop, and spotter, James “The Brow” Gouveia, who was also EleventyOne’s car chief. Special thanks to Gary Minnich and Nick Brown for their support of the EleventyOne. And finally, I thank Team RPM for a great set up, excellent food, and wonderful company that helped make the whole weekend not only successful, but fun!”.
About Red Panther Motorsport (RPM)
A leading California based professional racing team. RPM competes in the Hankook Tires United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) race series and has won multiple class Championships. For more information, please see and visit www.RedPantherMotorsport.com and like us on our social media channels.