Editor’s Note: We are honored to be working with Ian James in 2014 to bring you an inside look at the life of a sports car driver in both the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship as well as the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge. Ian is a terrific driver and great friend of F1B and we couldn’t be more excited to bring Ian’s personal journey to you in 2014.
So the call comes in and the contracts are signed, after months of working on numerous deals, two come to fruition and all of a sudden you have contracts with what are arguably two of the best teams in the sport.
Is the work over now till Daytona when the season kicks off at the end of January? Absolutely not, it is late October and already the talk is “Flat out, long Days and mechanics and Engineers working around the clock”.
From a driver’s perspective the to do list starts: license, medical and the new Impact testing to establish baseline concussion data comes first. Integrating with your new team and starting the learning process of how they operate is the key to any successful deal, I am lucky enough to be driving for two team principles that I have known for along time in Alex Job of AJR and Larry Holt of Multimatic.
Both are straight shooting guys who leave you in no doubt as to the objective—win Races, go for championships and Represent the sponsors in the right way, seems a pretty clear mission.
As any successful program is testament to; the people and corporations that sponsor the racecar are the most important element to the program, as these beasts we drive consume cubic dollars at an alarming rate.
My Tudor program this year is with the new Porsche 991 GT America, supported by Gabe Newell of Valve Software fame and with the mandate to raise money for Seattle children’s hospital.
“The heart of Racing” team is born, jump on the plane to Seattle visit the Valve corporate offices and start getting involved with branding, communication strategy, and how we integrate the Alex Job racing team and the Heart of Racing programs.
Once the branding is decided the team has to order all the long lead time items like driver suits these embroidered pieces of art are usually made in Italy and anyone that does business in Italy will attest, give them lots of lead time! The suits are a custom fit and you take measurements like a tailored dress suit, luckily they have my sizing on file from previous year so less work there.
Testing started in late November so once you first sit in the car the team customizes the fit and ergonomics to your preference, moves the buttons on the steering wheel so you can use them easily, adjust the helmet blower to work with your new FIA mandated $4,000 helmet and fit your driver ID plug so the sanctioning body knows whenever you are driving.
Many briefings and conference calls ensue with the engineers discussing the “Package” we will start the season with, brake compounds, damper set ups, diff settings, the list goes on but it is important for the driver to be aware and involved with these discussions so as to be effective in decision making going forward during the season.
Next up Salt Lake city to sit in the board room and bring the folks at Total Care Auto and Prestige finance and members of the LHM group up to date with the new Multimatic Miller racing Ford Mustang Continental series program, program activation, B2B programs finalized back to the airport onto the next thing.
Teammates in any endurance racing program are very important as your results are ultimately in there hands—and vice versa—and I am lucky to have two great full season co-drivers Mario Farnbacher in the Porsche and Billy Johnson in the Mustang. Still need 2 more teammates for the Rolex 24, testing has gone well and Porsche see us as a contender. No problem, here are two Porsche factory contracted drivers Alex Ribero and Marco Holzer, thank you very much.
The heart of racing program is already starting to gather some steam, time for me to call in some favors and get a few items to auction off and raise some more money for the Hospital. Continental Tires and Motegi Wheels get the call. I explain the pitch and they said, “were in”. A generous $ 10k worth of stuff to auction off committed. I run into Timothy Raines, a celebrated auto Artist, “can you do a painting for the charity that we can auction off, “no problem” another $7k item.
So I am driving for a Video game tycoon with 65 million users and I don’t have a twitter account, it’s about time @ijracer1 registered my social media presence is born!
Many years ago when I started racing, I used to prep my own racecar, drive it to the track and race. That was a lot of work but a means to an end, now I am fortunate to be able to jump on a flight and arrive at the track with the car sitting there shiny and ready to hit the track, now I get to spend my time away from the track in a different fashion making sure we hit the finish line as well as the many other objectives we have to achieve to make 2014 a success.
As I sit here in Detroit Airport on my way back to Phoenix just—leaving the North American Auto Show with—100k+ air miles ahead of me this season and 26 races on my calendar, I am lucky to be doing something I love and living my American Dream!
Check out www.theheartofracing.org helping pediatric cardiac care.