Damien Faulkner: The American Dream
January 25, 2013 by Damien Faulkner
I’ve been promising Leo that I’d write this piece for some time now – sorry Leo, but here goes..
I’m somewhere above Greenland on the way to Daytona Beach to kick off the 2013 season with the legendary Rolex Daytona 24. This will be my third attempt of this event. The first opportunity came in 2008 through a team called Synergy via my Porsche Supercup engineer Mario Prezel. A guy called Cole Scrogham owned the team. And, it’s funny how live works – all three of us worked together again in the American Le Mans Series last season with Green Hornet Racing. My second chance at Daytona came last year with TRG. Co-incidentally, this year I will drive in the American Le Mans Series with them. And, if you’re not already confused, I’m driving for Alex Job Racing at this weekend’s event!
I enjoy racing in the US. I first came over here over ten years ago to race Indy Lights in 2001. Back then; I was still harbouring hopes of ultimate success in single-seaters. Despite a very successful season during which I finished third in the championship with two race victories my career stumbled.
I eventually found my way into sportscar racing thanks to Fergus Brennan organising for me to drive the “guest” car for Porsche Cars GB in the first round of the British Carrera Cup Series. I won both races. One year later an Irishman by the name of Eddie Mc Elhinney hired me to drive for him in the same series. Eddie’s company SAS; was the largest sponsor in the category. We enjoyed tremendous success winning two championships (‘04/’05). This success propelled me towards the Porsche Supercup with the help of personal sponsors; Gerard Kelly and Derek Mc Mahon. This is one of the most hotly contested championships on the planet and it has a great platform with all races supporting Formula One around Europe, Bahrain, Turkey and Abu Dhabi. I did three seasons with the Lechner Team finishing as championship runner-up twice and winning four races. It was a great experience hearing the Irish National Anthem ring out from the F1 podium two hours before the Grand Prix.
In 2011 I got a call from Jeroen Bleekemolen – my old nemesis from Supercup. He was in the US and asked if I could fill in for him for four races in the ALMS with Black Swan Racing. I duly took him up on his offer. My first race was the Sebring 12-hour. We had a great race and won it. My performances in 2011 lead to a full time seat last year with Green Hornet. That’s one of the beauties of racing in the US – merit still has some weight.
I’ve moved on a bit from Greenland! Hopefully Orlando isn’t too far away now. I’m arriving a day early, as I like to acclimatise to the time difference. It’s still relatively cool for Florida so the heat isn’t too much of an issue. 24-hour races are physically tough and it’s imperative as a professional driver to be appropriately fit and healthy. Well fuelled and well watered. We have a great chance, on paper at least. You never know with 24-hour races how they will pan out, but I’m confident. I’m also looking forward to sharing the car with Jeroen Bleekemolen (who’s now a friend!), Porsche work’s driver Marco Holzer and Cooper Mac Neil. We are in the GT class in the number 23 WeatherTech sponsored white Porsche.
Daytona is a great event and getting more competitive by the year.