SPEED Winner to Get Pro Racing Shot
Written by: Erik Arneson
Charlotte, NC 4/4/2007
Intense. It's a word that won't be taken lightly in the new SPEED reality series, Setup. Beginning April 18 at 8 p.m. ET, 10 drivers will slip behind the wheel of identically prepared Pontiac Solstice GXP race cars for a chance at $100,000; but maybe more importantly, a real-life opportunity to compete for a factory ride in the 2008 Grand-Am Series Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Hosted by four-time Trans-Am Series champion, Tommy Kendall, along with actress Ashley Van Dyke and renowned racer and drifting stand out Rhys Millen, Setup challenges a select group of aspiring drivers in a series of hardcore races at Southern California's versatile Willow Springs Raceway. Drivers had to qualify, earn sponsorships and battle it out on each one of the track's intricate purpose-built road courses.
"It was apparent very early on that this would be a grueling competition, not for the faint of heart," said Robert Ecker, SPEED VP of Programming. "In fact, the entire situation was conceived to make this as difficult and challenging as possible for everyone involved the drivers, the crews and the cars. Based on the outcome, I dare say we accomplished that goal, handily."
Scott Gillen, Producer/Director of the popular SPEED motorcycle lifestyle show, Build or Bust, followed his passion when making this show. It's his hope the audience experiences a real connection with the teams, whether elated in victory, or furious in defeat, almost evoking the question, Are you sure you want to race at this level?'
"Authenticity was a must when we put this program together,' Gillen said. "I wanted to create a concept that gave the viewer a real sense of what it takes to become a professional race car driver. I wanted people to see that it's more than just driving a car. The screws were tight at every level for this show."
Each Pontiac Solstice GXP was built by the factory; shipped to long-time championship race shop Pratt & Miller and upfitted with Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) approved performance and safety equipment. Sporting everything from roll cages and exhaust enhancements to improve airflow, these factory rides were transformed into serious racing machines. The Pontiac Solstice GXPs were then delivered to Willow Springs carrying identical specifications putting the onus on each individual driver and mechanic to come up with the best combination of upgrades, balance and drivability.
"This show was a massive undertaking," Gillen continued. "The build process was a grind, as each team had to transform their individual cars to fit their own driving tastes. The drivers also had to load and unload their cars, bringing them back and forth to the track before and after every race. Not to mention each driver had to meet with potential sponsors - and if they weren't able to get one - they were sent home. This was a big deal for everyone involved."
The six-part series debuts in its regular time slot of 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 18.
"We were looking for an opportunity to showcase the performance credentials of our 260 HP Solstice GXP, and this concept was clearly the right fit for Pontiac" said Steve Sitek, Pontiac Director of Motorsports. "Nothing speaks to the credibility of a performance machine like racing, and to have 10 of our Solstice GXPs out on the track being pushed to the limits will demonstrate to viewers that the Solstice is more than just a sexy two-seat roadster. Additionally, we look at Setup as a way to continue the launch of Pontiac's entire GXP performance series, which will include a G6 GXP and Torrent GXP later this year."
Time Program Name Program Description
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
2:00 am Setup Introduction
8:00 pm Setup Introduction
11:00 pm Setup Introduction
Thursday, April 19, 2007
8:00 am Setup Introduction
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
2:00 am Setup Sponsor Run
8:00 pm Setup Sponsor Run
11:00 pm Setup Sponsor Run
Thursday, April 26, 2007
8:00 am Setup Sponsor Run
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
2:00 am Setup Getting Adjustments
8:00 pm Setup Getting Adjustments
11:00 pm Setup Getting Adjustments
Thursday, May 3, 2007
8:00 am Setup Getting Adjustments
Sunday, May 6, 2007
12:00 am Setup Getting Adjustments
10:00 pm Setup Introduction
11:00 pm Setup Sponsor Run
FYI - looks like a lot of fun for the Kappa sibling...