Forest Finds a Home in Rolex Series

May. 1, 2010

Nate Siebens, Contributing Writer


Mike Forest (left) in the garage with Jordan Taylor at the 2009 Rolex Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.Mike Forest expects to be relocating from Colorado to a new address sometime in the next month or so.

But the 28-year-old racer has seemingly found a long-term home in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 with Starworks Motorsport, co-driving the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley with 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall co-winner Ryan Dalziel.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with GRAND-AM and I really would like to continue driving in GRAND-AM,” Forest says. “I think the talent level is extremely high and the racing is really close, competitive and enjoyable from a racing point of view. You definitely want to be able to change positions and run close with guys and GRAND-AM definitely offers that.

“I think the (Daytona) Prototypes is where I’ll be looking to race the next number of years. Hopefully, we can keep our program together here with Starworks and we’ll be able to progress over the years with them as well.”

The 2010 season has gotten off to a great start for Forest, who is competing in his first full season of Daytona Prototype competition after getting his first taste of the Daytona Prototype last year with Beyer Racing. While Dalziel co-drove the No. 9 Action Express Porsche Riley to the Rolex 24 victory, Forest combined with Kasper Anderson, Bill Lester and Dion von Moltke to finish 12th overall in the Rolex 24.

Joining forces with regular co-driver Dalziel, the No. 8 duo claimed a fifth-place result in Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, followed by a hard-fought third-place run in Round 3 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Forest and Dalziel combined to finish sixth last time out at VIR, and Dalziel trails only the championship-leading No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the driver standings. Forest is currently eighth in driver points with one-third of the 2010 Rolex Series season complete.

“I think this season has been really good four races in,” says Forest. “So far, in these first couple of races, we’ve managed to do a really good job. Certainly, the podium at Barber was nice to get early on, and I think it sets us all up to believe that we can win a race this year, which is our goal. We want to be on the podium and win races. I’m just really excited about the rest of this season and working with these guys.”

Starworks Motorsport owner Peter Baron has put together an all-star cast. The race-weekend engineer for Forest and Dalziel is Bill Riley, the mastermind behind the most successful Daytona Prototype chassis in GRAND-AM history. The crew chief is Simon Morley, who was a chief mechanic in Formula 1 with Michael Schumacher and also has IndyCar experience. Forest is also really excited to be working with Dalziel, whom he got to know while he was racing in the Atlantic Championship and Dalziel was racing Champ Cars.

“It’s great,” Forest says. “We’re just about the exact same age, with similar backgrounds in open-wheel. He’s a phenomenally talented driver, so he’s been able to really relate these cars. He’s been driving Prototypes in different capacities each season, but he has had experience over five years with these cars. He’s been able to give some suggestions and some ways to approach it. Certainly, from a setup standpoint, he’s top drawer.”

One thing Forest and Dalziel both have in common with other top Daytona Prototype racers — such as two-time Daytona Prototype champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney and multi-time race-winner Michael Valiante among others — is they all came up through the Atlantic Championship, which ceased operations earlier this year after a 36-year run. Why have former Atlantic drivers had so much success in Daytona Prototypes?

“I think there are a few ideas why the Atlantic drivers have had success in the Prototypes,” Forest explains. “It first and foremost goes to the competitiveness of Atlantics in the last number of years, where the drivers are well trained and they know what it takes to win in a competitive series. That is one of the strong points of GRAND-AM. It is extremely competitive.

“There’s also something to be said for the cars with the Prototypes. They are sort of momentum-style cars, where the downforce is a larger factor than the horsepower, so it requires a similar sort of driving as the Atlantic cars did, where you really need to work on the minimum speeds around the corners.”

The fact that Forest passed through the Atlantic series comes as no surprise when you look at his family background. His father, Ric, worked in the March chassis factory in England in the late 1960s and worked on the F2 test team for drivers Ronnie Peterson and Chris Amon before returning to his native Canada with a March chassis to race himself in the Formula B championship, which was the precursor to Atlantic.

“He raced against Bobby Rahal and Gilles Villeneuve and some of those guys,” says Forest of his father. “That was where the whole racing thing started in my family. My grandpa was running a construction company and had a number of heart attacks, so my dad quit racing and looked after the family construction business for a number of years. When I was about 18, I started twisting his arm wanting to get into cars. We did that at sort of a club level in Alberta and it just grew from there. I went to Western Canada and then the Southwest states.”

In the mid-2000s, Ric Forest got involved in the promotion of the Edmonton Grand Prix while his son continued climbing the ladder as a driver. Mike credits his father as being the number one influence on his racing career.

“On the business side of racing, he’s been the biggest influence for me,” he says. “Not only has he been a huge supporter over the years, but as we’re getting up to this top level, with his understanding of the business world, he has been able to help guide me. I certainly know the day-to-day racing side better than him at this point, but he’s always been able to understand what a company would want and how we need to maximize their benefit in order to do that. He’s certainly been the biggest influence on my career, getting me into it, giving me advice early on how to drive and how to race, and most recently, the business side of racing.”

Forest, who moved to Colorado to be with his girlfriend, says they will be moving to either California or his native Canada at some point in the next month. He knows that wherever they go, they will need to make sure the winters are snowy, so their two-year-old Siberian Husky, Blu, can continue his newfound hobby of pulling a sled.

“Just for entertainment’s sake, not really for any serious intentions of having him be a sled dog or anything, we hitch him up to a 50-pound sled and make a number of laps around the park,” Forest explains. “I run alongside, and we definitely get some funny looks from people. That’s as happy as he can be. He is happy that you took him out there and got him to do some work.”

Just like his owner is happy to work in the Rolex Series.


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