Drissi returns home for Long Beach
It’s fair - and probably obvious - to say that prototype design and performance has changed significantly since the last time Tomy Drissi raced in the American Le Mans Series. More than four years later, Drissi will return to the Series as part of the Autocon Motorsports lineup at next week’s Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.
Drissi, a winner at the 2000 Trans-Am round at Long Beach, will drive the Autocon Creation-Judd with team owner Michael Lewis as the Series makes a stop at the country’s premier road race for the second straight season. When Drissi last competed in the Series he finished seventh overall and sixth in LMP1 at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2004, partnering with Lewis and Vic Rice in an Elan-powered Riley & Scott.
Two months ago, Drissi slid into the cockpit of a prototype for the first time since that race when he spent 15 minutes driving the Creation at California’s Buttonwillow Raceway.
“We were light years behind even when we had the Riley & Scott,” Drissi said Wednesday. “The one thing about the 15 minutes is that I almost threw myself out of the car under braking. They were just so strong when they got up to heat. They were OK on the Riley but this Creation really is modern.
“The good thing is that we will not have to worry about downforce on the car so much,” he added. “It’s more of a driver and technical track. So one thing I’ll be behind on is seat time. You have to first finish before you finish first, especially at Long Beach. There is no room for error. As far as I’m concerned, getting to the podium is a success.”
That’s something Drissi knows a little bit about. He finished fifth in class at his only two Series street events (Trois Riveries and Miami in 2003) in addition to his Trans-Am win in 2000.
“That track has always been there for me,” said Drissi, who works in motion picture advertising; the upcoming film What Happens in Vegas will be a prominent part of the Creation’s livery. “But we’ll have a lot of trouble keeping up with the Audis, Porsche and Acuras. We’ll be out there trying to keep up.”
The Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, Round 3 of the 2008 season, is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 19 from the famed Long Beach street circuit. ABC will broadcast the race from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 20. XM Satellite Radio will provide coverage on Channel 144 from 7 to 9 p.m. ET Saturday, April 19. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage of the race at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.