In the hot seat!

June 26, 2015

In the hot seat!

June 26, 2015

hotseatDrivers get the glory, but the people behind the scenes are critical to success in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

We asked some of the most successful hidden heroes the hardest and the best parts of their jobs. While they all face the same ultimate challenges, each sees his role in a slightly different way.

garyprattGary Pratt
Corvette Racing No. 3 and No. 4 in GTLM

“The hardest part of my job is not being as involved in all the ‘hands on’ parts and having to allocate resources and decide which projects to do and which not. Our guys always have lots of ideas and things to try or explore. You can’t do everything at once so you need to focus on a few things, but the competition is very high and everyone is pushing.”
“The best part is winning. It takes a total team to win.”
Champion driver Jan Magnussen says, “Gary can talk to each guy on the team and understand any issues. He knows how to do it himself. He sees the big picture, but he knows every part of the car and every job.”
There is only one time that Magnussen doesn’t look forward to talking with Pratt. “Dan Binks, my crew chief, is usually on our radio. If Gary is on my radio, then I know there is a bigger problem,” says Magnussen.


brianpillarBrian Pillar
Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 in Prototype

“The most difficult part of my job is dealing with yellow flags that come during the race, specifically, yellow flags when we are leading the race. Every time a yellow flag comes in, there are multiple ways to win a race and you need to quickly make a decision of what is the best way for you. You run the risk of the leader staying out and having the entire field pit and you also take the stress of being the leader and pitting out of the lead, potentially sacrificing your race from the fastest car. That is clearly the most stressful part of my job.”
“The most important part of my job has to be the final set up of the race car. All the work we have done during practice. You need to have a good car that gives the driver the ability to win the race or be in a position to take advantage of strategy. It is also very important since I often have two different drivers that want different things and picking the best car that will give the drivers the best chance to win the race at the end or the starting driver to put the car in the lead.”


billrileyBill Riley
Riley Motorsports No. 33 in GTD

“The toughest part of my job is being able to respond and react to problems.”
“You plan and prepare, but the business of racing is so fast paced, that every morning I have four or five emails that came in overnight from France regarding our Le Mans plans or something new. The plan is constantly changing. Racing is a 24 hour business and the races are intense.”
“In the race, how do you respond to problems? How quickly can you react and recover?”


davesimmsDave Sims
Risi Competizione No. 62 in GTLM

“To me the best is when the team is really working well like our Risi guys are right now. The guys themselves really gel. They start to think together. They discus things together and there are no rotten apples to contaminate the barrel. The guys are super.”
“They know how important pits stops are so they practice three times a day at the shop. They love to practice.”
“A big thing is the guys are all trustworthy. We know that we can trust them. We don’t have to say, guys we need to work late, they know. They know the work that needs to happen and they want to get it done.”
Sims develops a race plan with team principal Giuseppe Risi and then helps formulate the Risi team race strategy in the pre-race meetings. In the actual race, he defers to race engineer Rick Mayer and data acquisition maven Don Shaver to make the calls. “They track the fuel windows, the tire usage and Rick makes the call,” said Sims.
“We don’t have big discussions on the pit box. Rick talks to the Michelin engineer and they decide on tire changes, compound changes or extra stints. There is no panic. I want one voice on the radio to the drivers and that is Rick. Too many voices cause too much confusion.”

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