UD junior Carter Gans was a member of the DragonSpeed team that featured members from Great Britain, Germany and Malaysia. The team finished first at the Rolex 24 in the LMP2 class. Photo from Gans
With many of Dayton’s winter and spring sports in full swing, Flyer fans are occupied cheering on their basketball, baseball, softball and tennis teams. Meanwhile, another Dayton student was making waves in the world of athletics more that 900 miles from the familiar confines of UD Arena.
UD junior finance major Carter Gans was part of the crew for DragonSpeed USA on Jan. 26 for the Rolex 24 Hours race in Daytona, Florida. His team ended up winning the race in the LMP2 class.
“As a kid, I’ve watched that race for as long as I can remember,” Gans said. “So to be a part of it and to win it, it’s just overwhelming.”
The Rolex 24 is an endurance race. In contrast to a traditional race where the drivers try to finish a certain amount of laps the fastest, teams in an endurance race will try to finish the most laps they can in a given time period. These range from eight hours all the way to 24, like the Rolex 24.
For Gans, racing has been a part of his life since he was a kid.
“My dad owns a carbon deposit shop in Indianapolis,” Gans said. “He does a lot of repairs for Indy cars, sports cars and NASCAR’s. I’ve worked there for four or five years.”
Even after years of helping with the body work and preparation, Gans had never had the chance to work as a crew member on an actual team until the Rolex 24.
“(My dad) rents out space in his shop to DragonSpeed,” Gans said. “I would kind of just nudge them, you know. I’d tell them, ‘if you guys need any help, call me,’ so it’s just kinda lucky.”
Gans eventually did get that call, but he didn’t get much time for preparation.
“I flew out Wednesday night, and I didn’t know I was going until like Tuesday at 7 p.m.,” Gans said. “I had like a day to prepare, I honestly went in having no idea what I was doing.”
Gans’ role on the crew is referred to as the “dead man.” The dead man operates the valve that controls fuel flow. Gans was operating the valve at every pit stop, which was about every 30 minutes throughout the length of the race.
“It was freaking exhausting,” Gans said. “There were definitely parts where I was struggling. It was pretty much just run the stop, get everything ready for the next stop and then sit in a chair and try to sleep for 15 minutes.”
Despite the grueling nature of working on the crew of a 24-hour race, it could’ve been much worse.
“Thankfully our drivers drove really well throughout the night,” Gans said. “Obviously there were teams that weren’t so lucky and got that 3 a.m. wake-up call like, ‘we’re in the wall, back to the garage we have to fix the whole car.’”
The good driving paid off for DragonSpeed. Despite having a much smaller team than some of their competitors, DragonSpeed was able to end the race with 812 laps, topping the competition.
“In a 24 hour race, any one thing goes wrong and your race could be over in hour two,” Gans said. “At the end there were a bunch of people crying. It’s one thing that we had just won this insane race, but it was combined with the relief that this 24 hour race was over.”
However, the celebrations after the thrilling win were short-lived.
“I remember right after we won our team manager was talking about how we were going out that night,” Gans said. “We went out to a bar and everybody maybe had four drinks, we were there for like an hour and a half. It was like nobody could stand up and we were falling asleep, it was hopeless.”
Gans is continuing to work on his degree in finance at UD, but he’s definitely not closing the door on his career in racing.
“I’ve loved racing my whole life, but I’ve never got to do the race team side for a whole weekend,” Gans said. “(DragonSpeed) travels all over the world, so part of me wants to graduate and go work with them for a couple years. Ultimately it would be really cool to end up in racing, but I’ll definitely stay with it as a hobby at the minimum.”