Grand Am Road Racing Media Conference
Topics: Grand Am Road Racing
August 31, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to the special edition NASCAR GRAND-AM teleconference with the exciting news, a new Daytona prototype team as we get ready for the September 11 season-ending Utah 250 in Salt Lake City. We are pleased to be joined by Chris Dyson, the vice president and sporting director of Dyson Racing, and drivers Davy Jones and John McCutchen.
Chris, Dyson Racing won the first three team championships after the Rolex Series began competition in 2000, and you missed the driver's championship in 2002 by only two points after you won five races.
Chris, we are very excited to learn more about Dyson racing's long-rumored return to the GRAND-AM Rolex Series; can you tell us a little bit about what we are going to expect to see at Salt Lake City?
CHRIS DYSON: First of all, it's great to be back and great to speak with you, and I'm delighted to be joining you with Davy and John.
We are very enthusiastic about bringing in an additional program into our shop and re-joining the Rolex Series for the Utah round. Like you said, we have got a great history of competing in the Rolex Series, and we have got a great record of success in some of the most important races that the series has, have a lot of affection for the people involved, and we think we have got a tremendous package that we'll be able to take out and hopefully establish a nice framework for, you know, going forward in the future and bringing an additional program into our facility.
THE MODERATOR: John McCutchen, Godstone Ranch Motorsports partnered with the veteran GT team in this year's Rolex 24 Daytona to showcase the Texas Heart Institute. You also ran a few races in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Please tell us why you decided to move up to the Daytona prototype class with Dyson Racing.
JOHN McCUTCHEN: Thank you for having us on and really appreciate being able to showcase Texas Heart Institute. The first time I thought about running a prototype was the third time I got dive-bombed at Daytona at night.
About midseason, we noticed that the prototypes of are the star of the show, as they should be, and of course, if we are going to showcase a charity, you know, you need to know -- people need to know about it, and the only way for them to know about it is to drive the marquis cars.
So we started working on trying to put together a program. We really wanted to do kind of the last three races of the season and it was just a little bit too ambitious for us to get that done, and then we managed to find the Lola and of course Dyson through Davy Jones, and that was an absolutely home run idea from the get-go. Who would not want to be involved with the racing royalty of Dyson?
And obviously I'm prejudiced but I think the Lola is the sexiest looking prototype out there and certainly one of the quickest. It made all kinds of sense for us. We are the amateurs, Godstone Ranch Motorsports is, but Dyson is not, and the master, Davy Jones, is anything but an amateur.
So to be able to partner with a team with that kind of experience is exactly perfect for people like us who are new to this game.
THE MODERATOR: Davy, you group up in McGraw, New York, not far from Rob Dyson's home in Poughkeepsie, racing against each other at various levels, culminating in the Camel's Prototypes (ph) where your TWR Jaguar battled against the Porsche 962. Could you please talk about finally having the opportunity to race with Rob and Chris Dyson?
DAVY JONES: Nice to talk would you today. It goes way, way back. Doesn't seem like that long ago. Seems like it was just yesterday, but it was a number of years ago when, you know, it was like you said, when we were are always competing against the No. 16 car, Dyson Racing, and you know, through the years, I've always, you know, wanted to have the opportunity to race with Dyson Racing, and drive the 16 car, and here it is today.
So you know, I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to it. Rob Dyson has been a true friend for many years, and to be able to work with him and his team and to work with Chris, I'm looking forward to Salt Lake and what we can do going forward from here.
Q. Chris, with your previous involvement in the Rolex Series with the long history of the chassis and stuff, the Lola Daytona prototype is new and Dyson Racing has a long history with Lolas, as well, what kind of support or will there be any technical share to shorten any learning curve you might have with the new car? And secondly, I know that when we last spoke about this project, the Rolex 24 was certainly something you had your eyes set on for next year, you speak to those endeavors and whether we will hopefully see the number 16, the beginning of next year?
CHRIS DYSON: Thanks. I'll address your first question. We have been trying to work with Lola for quite a while to try to get a program together that we could bring into our shop and kind of facilitate a return to the Rolex Series in a meaningful fashion with an in-house project. We have got an enhanced facility now and tremendous staff here and we just had to get the timing right.
You know, it's thanks to John's efforts and for Davy for bringing us together, that we have been able to finally put ourselves in a position to talk about coming into the Rolex Series, alongside our other primary program in the ALMS. It's a terrific development for us.
Lola has been extremely helpful, and the folks over at Proto Auto and Krohn Racing, particularly, recognize that this is a great opportunity to showcase the car with a new team, and I think that, you know, certainly based on Dyson Racing's working relationship with Lola, you know, their product is state-of-the-art. It's very user friendly and from a driving standpoint, extremely good.
So I think that John and Davy are going to be sitting in a great car here. The Krohn Racing guys are going to have provided some really big technical support for us, and I can't say enough about the efforts that were put in by Multi-Maddox (ph) to help us put this car together.
They just finished the car last week and we did a shakedown run with it and absolutely trouble free. Really looking forward to getting John and Davy some seat time this week in advance of our race at Utah, and there's a lot of parties definitely pushing in the right direction hear, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Roush-Yates connection here. We think by putting their Ford V8 into our program, it's really a huge fundamental part of the equation here, and John Maddox and everyone at Roush Yates could not have been more helpful to bring this deal to fruition.
As far as the Daytona 24 Hours is concerned, we are focusing right on on doing a very solid job next week at Utah, and then definitely looking at the Rolex with more attention than ever, and trying to get a program set up so we can take advantage of the next couple of months. It will be here before we know it.
And you can't underestimate the competition there now. Certainly with some new tires coming on to the scene and with the surface being repaved at the Rolex, the playing field is a bit more level than it has been in quite a few years. We think there's some great opportunities for us to take a very proven package and bring some partners together and go out and try to get some results.
But we are taking it right now one day at a time and just trying to build on some successes early with this program.
Q. Where is your pressing taking place? What's the goal for two weeks in racing?
JOHN McCUTCHEN: First, we are testing in Monticello. We are going to test there the next couple of days on both of the courses, so that has plenty of challenge and it's close to the Dyson's unbelievable race shop that I'm standing in. So that makes it easy on us to really understand the car and maybe time to get a lot of seat time.
So it's an old adage, to say that we wanted to finish is silly, I mean, everybody wants to finish and that's not racing. Every race car driver wants to go to the track to win. I can't really predict what we think is really going to happen. We are going to put in a solid finish or not end up upside down on fire, and we are going to try to really put on a good show for what is the brand newest Daytona prototype in existence.
We have got a lot of our trusted partners, Johnson and Trolls, Baker Triangle, Miley and Penny (ph), Jim Greer with Hayley Greer who most of you know from the A.J. Foyt connection is our partner, too. They are all going to be at the track and this is really kind of a calling card for us to show them what NASCAR GRAND-AM racing is all about, what it's like to be involved with a world-class race car manufacturer like Lola, what it's like to be involved with a world-class team like Dyson, and what it's like to have an absolute world-class driver like Davy Jones, all together, and understand how you can activate that between races for not only their businesses, but also to raise money for the important charity of Texas Heart Institute.
That's a roundabout question, but I expect us to have a very solid run there, and the cars done well there in the past, the Lola has, I think it was on pole in 2008, I can't remember, but it's not been a bad track at all for the Lola, so I think we have pretty high expectations, frankly.
Q. With Dyson Racing winning the Rolex 24 in '97 and '99, and then additionally, the entry this past year, which if it had not been for being punted by somebody, likely would have won the race; I'm kind of left wondering, what this one race crash is all about, if not to go into the 2011 season running the 24. Can you answer that, Chris, please?
CHRIS DYSON: Well, you know, like I said, we are taking it one step at a time, and you know, working to do the best job we can off of all available resources. You know, I think in this day and age, you've got to think about getting all of the basics right and being realistic about living within your means. I think we are all taking this as a very good step and a very big step towards getting a bigger program going.
You know, like I said at the beginning of the call, one of the main purposes behind us jumping on board with this program was to get a car in house that we believe that we could take to the Rolex 24 and do well down there. It's a classic race and you know, I think that having one race under our belt and understanding the car, heading into the off-season, the run-up to Daytona is an interesting strategy, because it gives us, you know, I think a very good framework for good engineering decisions and also to do some future testing.
But yeah, I would be lying if I said that we were not seriously looking at the Rolex 24, and we have not made any bonus about wanting to get back there with a winning effort. So I just appreciate John and Davy coming on board to help us make it happen, but really to kind of establish the program with us.
Q. Davy, I'm curious to know, your history with Jaguar, another British outfit there, what you thought when you got into that Proto Auto Lola for the first time?
DAVY JONES: Well, we are about to get into the car for the first time the next couple of days, we are testing here at Monticello, New York, which is a beautiful racetrack. And I'm looking forward to it. I've always said to play the game, you've got to be in the game, and the series is so competitive that you just can't come in and do a one-off race. You know, so after we did the 24 hours at Daytona I got my itch and I said, if we are going to do something, let's put a program together and let's do it 100%.
It's the first time in a long time that I've actually been in an environment where I've had all of the surroundings, all of the right tools to be competitive like the days with Tom Watkins (ph) racing, so I'm looking forward to going to Miller Motorsport Park. Like John had said earlier, our goal is to finish the race and just to put in a good showing. If we can work together as a team and build from the data that we collect together going into next year, that would be more than we can ask for. We have to take it in baby steps, and we have to walk before we can run.
With all of the right tools, you don't really know where we stand until you're on the track and you're in the session and you look at the grid sheets and what everybody else is doing. So it's one step at a time.
Q. Point of clarification, if I may. I heard the term shakedown used with regard to the Proto-Auto Lola that you guys are going to be running. Who did that shakedown then?
CHRIS DYSON: That was actually undertaken by our friends up at Multi Maddox (ph) who had actually helped us to finish building the car at their shops last week. The car has just arrived in our shop today. We know we are under a tight time scale to get our shakedown test done and our initial running done with John and with Davy, and we appreciate, you know, the GRAND-AM approach to letting us make sure we get a car that's safe and also get our drivers sufficient mileage in advance of a major race.
DAVY JONES: It goes to the level of the team. Here, rather than showing up tomorrow to do our testing at Monticello with a brand new car, Multi Maddox that's build the car and prepared the car, along with Dyson's crew, you know, they have shaken it down, so we have the pinion and we have the brakes bedded in and we know the car is not going to have any issues by the time we start our program for testing.
Q. What are the challenges of fielding an additional car in your shop, and what are the challenges you two face going into a track where you may or may not have raced in the past and just getting into a Daytona prototype and going against the competition that you'll be facing?
CHRIS DYSON: I would say from our perspective at Dyson Racing, this is a great opportunity for us, because we have, like I said, an enhanced facility now that we didn't have a few years ago. So we view it as a challenge, yes, but more importantly, an opportunity to take advantage of our facilities and our staff that we have here.
My guys have all been asked to work a little bit harder than normal the last few weeks between our ALMS schedule and accommodating an additional program. But everyone is up for it. The buzz within the shop is tangible, and you know, everyone is a little bleary-eyed right now but very enthusiastic. We have a hole in our schedule and this made perfect sense for us to slot this event in, like I said, with the bigger picture in mind.
Q. I was interested in the driver's perspective of the challenges you see going forward in working together, going with a new team, and just going against the competition that you'll be facing.
JOHN McCUTCHEN: I'm going to answer that first. Clearly it's all very challenging. You're in the highest level of professional racing, with highly technical cars that are closely matched in most cases. I think every single driver has a major challenge every time they hit the track, period, just against the competition based upon what gets thrown at you.
Clearly the other guys are out there racing with half their brains tide behind their backs because they have been doing it all year, and in the consideration of the new crowned champions several years together in the same car, the same everything; so we have a little bit more mental overload, at least I can speak for myself.
Fortunately, our friends over at Momentum Auto Sports, who we have raced a couple of races in their Camaro in the Continental Series just to learn some tracks and help them as they advance their car, have offered a car to us on Thursday and so Davy and I will be able to run that course. I have never raced it before so, that at least we'll have some high-speed track time before we actually get out there with the prototype.
I know Dyson has a schedule the next few days, very surgical, precision type of schedule for us to work in to understand the car and the equipment, which is one of the biggest hurdles a driver has. I learned the hard way at the 24, we didn't have an opportunity to shake down the car the first time we ever rolled a wheel was at the Lola 24 Hour, first time I had ever been on the track and I can tell you, it's a lot of mental overload.
We are not going to have that this time. It's something that Davy, it the professional that he is -- I never went out in the cars I had never driven before on major races.
So we are doing it right this time. We are doing it very pragmatically as Chris talked about. We absolutely have our eye on Daytona. We can't make any kind of announcements until we know for sure what we are doing. The team has to gel together. I think that will happen in the next couple of days. Davy and I have a very close relationship, I'm not looking at any issues related to that.
DAVY JONES: Just to concur with what you said, John, the GRAND-AM series is probably the most competitive that it's ever been. You know, you can see from the last few races, you know, just by the timing with their pit stops and their fuel strategies, you have got to be on your game or you miss a position.
It's the difference between winning and finishing second. So, you know, all of the teams, they are going into the last race, they are in their zone and they are in their rhythm and they are going to push hard.
Us as a new team coming in, I have got to look at it like I have going in there, my first and foremost thing is just to do the best thing that I can as a driver and knowing that I've got all of the tools surrounding me with a competitive car, a competitive engine, a competitive team, and that I can really put my mind to work to do the best job that I can, is all that a true athlete could ask for.
And, you know, you've just got to see how the weekend unfolds as we get involved into the different sessions and into the race. Certainly we just want to put in the best job that we can for Dyson Racing and for Lola and Ford.
Q. Davy, you have a lot of history at the Rolex 24, and could just talk about in more detail perhaps what it will be like for you to return to the 24 hour in a prototype with a team that has got all of the tools to win the race?
DAVY JONES: You know, that's something that I've been really itching for for a number of years. You know, when all my years of racing, I've always been a hired gun. You show up at the track with a team, and just like Jon Fogarty, Scott Pruett, they are showing up in Utah, and their mission is to win that race and they are going there knowing they can win that race.
That's the position that I would like to get myself back into. John and I did the 24 hours at Daytona this year, and it got my itch to make that happen, to get back into the game, to get the surroundings behind me -- too, so I can show up at the track, going there to be a competitive and put yourself in the position to win.
So you know, to be able to do that, I know that it's been a number of years since I've won the 24 hours in Daytona won the 24 hours in Le Mans, but, you know, if you're fit and your mind is into it, it can be achieved.
So that's our goal going forward is to get the best position that we can team-wise, car-wise, chassis, engine, and it starts for us at Miller Motorsport Park, just collecting data and moving one step at a time.
Q. John, I believe, mentioned that you were sort of one of the go-betweens in putting this deal together. Could you talk about how your role played out in that respect?
DAVY JONES: Well, it's seeing when what your options are. Obviously we have been able to lend some support to the program with the Texas Heart Institute and you look at all of the different options with other teams and running a second car, a third car, putting a couple of races together for this year as a package.
You know, you want to weigh them out to what is the best for everybody, where it's a win/win, and I believe, you know, for John McCutchen, for myself and for Dyson Racing, for Lola, for Ford, I think it's a win/win for everybody for what we have put together going forward.
Q. You're going to be running a Roush-Yates engine in the Proto Auto there for Miller. Does that signify a perspective engine deal for your other Lola?
CHRIS DYSON: No, at this point, we have got the contractual relationship with Mazda for our American LeMans series program that we plan on continuing for the next couple of years.
Obviously we are enthusiastic about the fact that Roush-Yates is spreading its wings and growing it's business just as Dyson Racing is growing its business. Roush Yates is looking to go into the American Le Mans Series but they are going to build and support the best Daytona prototype engines out there. When we were looking at this project, we were trying to identify the best all-around power plant and some of the people that we like, working with. John Maddox and everyone down in North Carolina really fit that bill for us.
You know, this is a program that is going to be running parallel to our American Le Mans Series program. It won't have any impact on that program. That's the beauty of where Dyson Racing is in 2010 versus where we were in 2005, and that's that we can accommodate multiple platforms here, and I think, you know, serve our clients and our partners well.
I'm really looking forward to linking up with Roush Yates, because we have worked with them years ago when we ran we Essex Racing, it was actually Ford's first race in Daytona prototype, and very quickly identified that it was a great engine to have. It's nice to come back several years later and put it in a car and now we have got that car in our shop and I'm looking forward to taking Davy and John and going out and having a good run with them.
Q. Back in 1990, driving the XJR 12 to a win, the fastest lap in that race was posted by Frank Jelinski in a Porsche 962C; when you look at this past year's Rolex 24, the fastest race was put in by Sun Trust, fastest lap was put in by Sun Trust Racing, and it was almost six tenths of one second faster than the race which you won back in 1990. What does that do to your head there?
DAVY JONES: Well, it just goes to show you that consistency pays off. Certainly, you know, the thing I love about 24-hour races is everybody gets all in this big hype, you know, an hour into a race, two hours into it and somebody is way out front, and, you know, they are thinking that they are going to win it easily and the rest of the competition is just nowhere.
And then come along Sunday morning, the roles have reversed; the guys that were out -- the rabbit is up front is long gone and the guys that were just putting in nice consistent lap times in the middle of the race, there they are, and all of the excitement from the media and everybody in the stands, it's all focused on those guys and who is going to win the race and they have long forgotten about, you know, Saturday afternoon at the start of the race.
So, you know, whether it's 20 years ago or if it's tomorrow, you know, racing is racing. It's just all about the competition and that's what brings us to (speaker) being more so important, is having a team like Dyson Racing. You know, Vince who is going to be our engineer going to Utah, I worked with him in 1996 on an IndyCar program, so there's a lot of experience here. It's the experience that pays off in the end.
THE MODERATOR: As a footnote, the shakedown took down at Calabogie, Ontario, which is about one and a half hours west of Ottawa. And we do have one question from our Facebook friends, Robert John Vicera (ph) for Chris Dyson, he wants to know how the new Ford Lola compares to the Krohn Racing Proto-Auto Lola.
CHRIS DYSON: Well, it's pretty much identical fundamentally. Clearly the Krohn guys have been running the car for a couple of years now and they have made some massaging adjustments to the way things are packaged and fitments and whatnot.
But as a standard piece, the car is virtually identical, and there's some new answer details that I'm sure that they have discovered that we will discover as we run the car. But you know, everyone at Proto Auto and Krohn Racing and Lola have all been very open book about trying to make sure that we have the same platform as the Krohn car.
And I think that's terrific, because you know, we have always thought that the Lola was, you know, the fastest car and definitely the most promising car in the Rolex Series, and it's just terrific to have it on our floor with a lot of cooperation and help from Krohn racing.
I think once we are running head-to-head, that will probably and naturally, the book will start to close a little bit, but at that point, hopefully we'll all be in front of the rest and fighting amongst ourselves for the wins.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Chris, and thank you, John and Davy.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|