Ask Bryan Sellers what the highlight of his 2012 season was and the likeable Braselton, Ga., resident will find it tough to narrow the selection to just one thing. If 2011 had been the breakout season for the Falken Tire factory driver, 2012 proved why he is one of the hottest commodities in the sport.
Sellers increased his career American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón race-win tally, added a number of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge podiums to his lifetime results and was honored as the Most Popular Driver in the ALMS.
With fulltime rides co-driving the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Porsche with Wolf Henzler in the ALMS and the No. 46 BCKSTGR/Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 in CTSCC with Mark Boden set to continue in 2013, most expect more of the same next year.
"Continuity is often something that is overlooked," Sellers said. "I am very fortunate and honored to be returning to both the Team Falken Tire Porsche and the BCKSTGR/Fall-Line BMW. It makes the start of the season flow so much smoother because there is no adaptation to learning the teams and the people. We can get to work immediately and set our goals on wins."
On-track, Sellers' year was bookended by impressive drives that, despite coming up short of victory lane, proved the immense talent of the Ohio-native. An inspired run on the high-banks of Daytona in the CTSCC season opener gave notice to the paddock that he intended to support co-driver Boden all the way to the owner/driver's first CTSCC GS class championship.
However, several incidents not of the No. 46 car's making left the operation out of title contention in the end. But, to prove their point, Sellers and Boden sped to two podium finishes (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park) to close the year on a high note. The trio of podiums was good enough to lift Sellers and Boden to seventh in the final CTSCC driver standings.
"We were so strong all year and that's how our season should have gone," Sellers said. "We started off so strong and then had a string of bad luck. Those last two races we were back up to our full potential and had a little bit of 'Lady Luck' back on our side."
In ALMS, the dual-development of the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with the ongoing tire work caused early struggles for the Falken operation. Showing signs of brilliance several times, the combination came into perfect sync on the city streets of Baltimore. In a nearly identical replay of the 2011 victory there, Henzler started the No. 17 before handing the car to Sellers. Sellers fought a determined Corvette for much of his stint before ultimately putting a definitive stamp on the event by holding off the faster machine with his car.
"Baltimore was, obviously, a huge moment for myself and everybody at Team Falken Tire," Sellers said. "In any sport, to repeat a win is a very difficult thing to accomplish, but we were able to do so, and the manner in which we did it made it a little sweeter. It was such a hard-fought race and those are always the most rewarding."
Sellers helped Porsche's four-car 911 GT3 RSR GT class effort capture second in the manufacturer championship and Team Falken Tire to fifth in the team championship.
Narrowing down Sellers' top moment of 2012 was made even tougher by off-track honors the young racer achieved. The most prestigious, and humbling, privilege of the year came as the fans voted him as the "American Le Mans Series Most Popular Driver" for 2012. Another momentous career milestone came as the USF2000 Championship named the 2002 champion to its series' Hall of Fame.
Although the calendar still reads 2012, Sellers is already gearing up for the 2013 season, as Team Falken Tire spent three days testing at Sebring International Raceway earlier this month.
The "Roar Before the 24" GRAND-AM testing at Daytona International Raceway comes the first week of January, with the race itself at the end of the month.
ALMS testing will continue with the official ALMS Winter Test at Sebring in February, and the ALMS season kicks off on March 16 with the 12 Hours of Sebring.