Action Express Racing will look to continue a record of success that stretches back to the origins of the team as it takes on the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-LMDh will be shared by 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion Pipo Derani (BRA) and ultra talented Alexander Sims (UK) for the full season. Jack Aitken (UK) will serve as the Endurance Ace and will join Pipo and Alexander for Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.
The team has an unrivaled record in IMSA competition, claiming the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Team and Driver championships, as well as securing the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 North American Endurance Championships titles.
Action Express Racing worked to find the top of the podium under the guidance of Gary Nelson, well known for his time spent in NASCAR as a championship winning crew chief and later the director of the NASCAR Monster Energy Series (then Winston Cup). Nelson also managed the development of the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC.
Having launched with a winning run in the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona with a leased Riley chassis, the organization then grew to develop and manufacture the Coyote Chassis for the Daytona Prototype regulations. Carrying the Chevrolet bowtie, the chassis became a winner in its debut 2012 season. Action Express Racing continued to develop as a team, with highlight moments including a dramatic 1-2 team finish at the Detroit Grand Prix in 2012.
As the sports car racing world merged into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Action Express Racing arrived in the new landscape extraordinarily well prepared.
The team won the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona with João Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, and Sebastien Bourdais. Victories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Road America set the stage for a run to the 2014 IMSA Driver and Team championships as well as the first-ever Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup as the No. 5 entry completed every mile of competition.
The 2015 IMSA WeatherTech Championship saw the team return to a full-time two-car program in the top Prototype class as Mustang Sampling joined the organization as the title sponsor for the No. 5 Chevrolet Corvette DP with drivers Barbosa and Fittipaldi, while the No. 31 entry proudly carried the iconic colors of Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP for teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron.
The team delivered two equal cars capable of competing for the title. Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Bourdais claimed victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, snapping a 50-year drought for Chevrolet in the oldest endurance race in North America. Cameron and Curran broke through for victory in Detroit, and struck again with a win at Road America. The team scored encore IMSA Driver, Team, and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup titles for the No. 5 entry as the No. 31 Whelen Engineering machine came home third in the IMSA championship.
2016 saw the No. 31 Whelen Engineering entry come to the fore, as the Curran/Cameron combination claimed the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Driver and Team Championships, while the No. 5 Mustang Sampling campaign delivered another North American Endurance title.
2017 marked the debut of the all-new Cadillac DPi-V.R, and Barbosa introduced the machine with authority, claiming pole position at Daytona on the way to a hard-fought second place finish with his co-drivers Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque. Both the Mustang Sampling and Whelen Engineering entries again demonstrated themselves as winners in 2017, with the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac closing out the year with an incredible fourth consecutive Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup title.
While expectations may have changed within the industry for Action Express Racing, Gary Nelson and his team entered the 2018 season with the same motto that they surprised everyone with in 2010.
On a large white sign in the back of the Action Express Racing shop visitors can find the words “Expect to Win” etched in black. The three-word phrase has been Nelson’s motto since becoming team manager of the team in 2010. While the outsider might misinterpret the attitude as arrogant, the veteran racer is quick to explain what that mindset really means.
“Expecting to win doesn’t mean we’re going to win every time we go to the track,” said Nelson. “If you were going to win every time, they wouldn’t call this racing. ‘Expect to win’ simply means that if everyone does his or her job to the best of their ability, we make the right calls on strategy and avoid any misfortune outside of our control; we shouldn’t be surprised that we ended up in victory lane.”
And that preparation once again bore fruit to start the 2018 season, as the team claimed a 1-2 finish in a record-breaking run to another Rolex 24 Victory. Victories at Long Beach (No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing) and Detroit Grand Prix (No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing) added yet more trophies for the shop. The legacy of IMSA Championship performance was once again extended as the team secured the 2018 Team and Driver Championship with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr.
The 2019 IMSA season generated more trophies--Victories at Sebring 12 Hour and Road Atlanta for the No. 31 Whelen Engineering entry, as well as another street-fight win for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac at Long Beach. The team continued its unparalleled success in the Michelin Enurance Cup, claiming the 2019 title to extend its amazing run of success in the races that demand the most of both team and driver.
For 2020 the team would have to deal with the very tough competition but also race during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. This meant a unique and very fluid schedule with multiple visits to some locations to ensure that we were able to complete the season. The No.31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPI earned 1 win at Sebring and podiums finishes at Road America, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca.
Action Express Racing returned to Championship form in 2021 behind masterful driving from full season drivers Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr with support from Mike Conway at the Endurance events. The No.31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac earned wins at Watkins Glen, Road America and Long Beach with podium finishes at Mid-Ohio, Detroit, Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta.
2022 would be the final season of the Cadillac Dpi-VR. While the No.31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac didn't find their way to the top step they did earn podium finishes at Laguna Seca, Mid Ohio, CTMP (Canada) and at Road Atlanta.
Action Express Racing and the No.31 Whelen Engineering team will join the Factory Cadillac program for 2023 and will compete in the all new Cadillac VR-LMDH platform. The GTP class will come with a lot of changes but you can bet that one things will stay the same, the team will carry on the "Expect To Win" motto and will show up at Daytona International Speedway to kick off the 2023 season with a championship on their minds.
Team Principal: Bob Johnson
Team Manager: Gary Nelson
Director of Race Team Operations: Chris Mitchum
Technical Director: Ian Watt
Assistant Engineer: Giacomo Ballotta
GM Performance Engineer: Ryan Morrison
GM Propulsion - Engine Tuner: Scott Westfall
Shop Foreman: Mike Hill
Full Season Driver: Luis Felipe Derani
Full Season Driver: Alexander Sims
Endurance Driver: Jack Aitken
Race Strategist: Tim Keene
Driver Coordinator: Peter Baron
IT Specialist: John Poole
DAG: Stuart Taylor
DAG: Oscar Zelaya
DAG Assist: Jeff Zelaya
Dallara Electronics: Marco Guerra
Engineering Assistant: John Urbina
DAG Support: Andrew Taylor
Logistics Supervisor: Michael Rompf
Transportation Manager: Mark Millirham
Crew Chief: Bill Keuler
Special Projects Manager: Brian Hay
Front Mechanic/Sub Assy. : John Smith
Rear Mechanic/Fabrication: Christian PaHud
Interior Mechanic: Saul Prez
Mechanic/Load Master: Jared Williamson
Mechanic/Composites: Johnny Etheridge
Mechanic/Tires: Mike Morgan
Body Department Manager: Chris Funderburk
Body Tech/Tire Tech: Caleb Barger
Shop Assistant: Bennie Williams
Special Projects Assistant: Josh Stoltz
Transportation Driver/Fueler: Justin Lages
Transportation Driver/Hospitality: Eric Rang
Transportation Driver/Runner: Mike Smith
Gear Box: Brian Hay
Chief Marketing Officer: Scott Taylor
Marketing Coordinator: Amy France
Pit Lane Setup: Brian, Mike, Johnny, Stuart, Andrew, Jared
Team Principal: Bob Johnson (Center) along with other distinguished GTP team owners.
Hometown: Redlands, CA
Family: Sons William and John
P Championships: (5) Overall, (5) NAEC
Accomplishments: Improving the safety of the sport as well as 1983 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Championship Crew Chief, 1982 and 1986 Daytona 500 winning Crew Chief, 21 NASCAR Cup Series wins, 1991 – 2001 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Director, 2008, 2009, 2014 Rolex Daytona 24 Hour wins, 2006 Inducted into West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame
Hometown: Inverness, Scotland
Family: Jana Watt (wife), Ava (daughter), Ella (daughter)
Education: MSc, Cranfield Institute of Technology
P Championships: (5) Overall, (4) NEAC
Accomplishments: Daytona 24, Sebring 12 and Watkins Glen 6 Hour Winner, Crew Chief/Engineer with Team Green, Mo Nunn, and Cheever Racing in CART and IRL, Worked in NASCAR for Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Richard Petty Motorsports
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Restoring Cars and Wood working, first came to the United States in 1994 as a Lola Race/Design Engineer in CART.
Hometown: Marlett, MI
Family: Timothy (son), Christina (daughter)
Education: High School
P Championships: (9) Overall, (1) NAEC
Accomplishments: 5x Rolex 24 Wins, 2000 Indy 500 Win, 4x Kart Championships
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Golfing
Director of Team Operations
Hometown: Gainesville, FL
Family: Ann Mitchum (wife), Cali Mitchum (daughter) and Taylor Mitchum (son)
Education: BA, James Madison University, 30 years of racing experience
P Championships: (5) Overall, (6) NAEC
Accomplishments: 2002 SCCS Championship (Driver), 2014 Lamborghini Super Tropheo North American Championship (Team Owner), 2015 Lamborghini Super Tropheo World Finale Champion Gallardo (Team Owner)
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Youth Soccer Coach in spare time.
Special Projects Manager / Gear Box
Chris Funderburk "T-Bird"
Body Department Manager
Mechanic / Composites
Transportation Manager/ Driver
Special Projects Assistant
Body Tech / Tire Tech
Mechanic / Load Master
John Smith "Smitty"
Front Mechanic / Sub Assy.
Rear Mechanic / Fabricator
Mechanic / Tires
Transportation Driver / Fueler
Transportation Driver / Hospitality
2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
2019 Michelin Endurance Cup
2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
2018 Michelin Endurance Cup
2017 Michelin Endurance Cup
2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
2016 Michelin Endurance Cup
2015 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
2015 Michelin Endurance Cup
2014 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
2014 Michelin Endurance Cup
2021 Long Beach Grand Prix
2021 Road America
2021 Watkins Glen Sprint Race
2020 Sebring Sprint Race
2019 Petit Le Mans
2019 Long Beach Grand Prix
2019 Sebring 12 Hour
2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona (1-2 Team finish)
2018 Detroit Grand Prix
2018 Long Beach Grand Prix
2017 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
2017 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2016 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
2016 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
2015 Petit Le Mans
2015 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase (1-2 sweep)
2015 Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
2015 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
2014 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
2014 Brickyard Grand Prix
2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona
2013 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2013 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2012 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2012 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix (1-2 sweep)
2011 Virginia International Raceway
2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona