“Chapulin” Hops to Level 5

April 12, 2011

“Chapulin” Hops to Level 5

April 12, 2011

Luis Diaz, No. 055 Level 5 Motorsports. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Luis Diaz holds an unusual position in the American Le Mans Series paddock.

With nine ALMS wins, 21 podiums in 41 ALMS race starts, and the 2009 ALMS LMP2 championship co-driver with Adrian Fernandez, Diaz is in the words of a veteran former engineer, “still the most underrated driver in the paddock.”

A native of Mexico City, Diaz or “Grasshopper” is now a co-driver with Scott Tucker at Level 5 Motorsports aboard the #055 Lola/Honda.

He began his career racing karts in Mexico at age 12 and won numerous karting titles before moving to cars at age 18.

Since then, Diaz has built an impressive career, winning races, championships and various honors including the 2009 ALMS Most Popular Driver Award.

How could a driver with that kind of record and fan awareness be underrated? Part of it was a matter of timing as he and Fernandez ramped up to their 2009 championship season.

Another part is his style. Diaz is friendly, modest and quick to share recognition with his co-drivers, teammates and crew.

Luis Diaz, No. 055 Level 5 Motorsports Lola HPD. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

But to the people on the inside, the ones that see the team working and monitor the data streams, Diaz is a trusted hand, consistent, solid, and very quick when needed.

Now part of the rapidly expanding Level 5 Motorsports team, Diaz and Scott Tucker, joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay at Sebring, have already topped the LMP2 class podium in the first event of the 2011 season.

“We were expecting a very tough first race because of the relatively last minute nature of the deal we did to run two Lola-HPD cars in the full ALMS and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup this year,” said Diaz.

“We only ran the Lola for the first time on the weekend before the race, so everyone deserves a big pat on the back.

“I’m telling you there were some days that the guys slept no more than two or three hours at most, so looking at the effort from everybody at the team it was just phenomenal.”

Winning races, championships, most popular driver awards and ultimately the respect of his teams means Luis Diaz is no longer the best kept secret in the ALMS paddock.

This story appears in the Long Beach issue of The Alley, available online as a PDF on michelinracingusa.com and at the track at the Long Beach street circuit.

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