The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón returns to action, July 7-9, for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Connecticut's Lime Rock Park. LMP1 point leader Dyson Racing calls Lime Rock Park home, and team owner Rob Dyson (LEFT, with son Chris) explains why it's the perfect time to launch their second car with drivers Steven Kane and Humaid Al Masaoosd.
Q: What pieces came together to get the second Dyson car entered in the remainder of the ALMS season?
“We had hoped to have our second car on the grid in 2010 and we've never stopped pushing to bring back the second car if the right opportunity came along. So I guess you could say we have been on standby for this opportunity for some time. We were fortunate to have a gap in our schedule that allowed us to evaluate Humaid and Steven without impacting our ALMS racing or development program. It was perfect timing, really, and it's come together surprisingly well. Humaid's guys have joined us and have integrated to the shop already, and we're all quite excited about going racing as a group this weekend.”
Lime Rock Park is your home track and the site of your first professional race win in 1985, do you remember that IMSA race? How has Dyson Racing evolved since then and how is it the same?
“The race in '85 was really a blur. We were the new faces on the Camel GT grid at the start of the day but by the end we were on the map as a team. From there, it's been quite an exciting and unbelievable journey. The times have moved on throughout the whole sport, and the team has grown, but we've never lost the passion that drove us back then. That's probably the most important thing, and we've also always concentrated on putting the basics first.”
How has Lime Rock Park changed over the years and what makes it an iconic American road course?
“What was always amazing about Lime Rock – and continues to be – is how fast a track it is for being only 1.5 miles. When we first started racing GTP here in '85, I think it was the third fastest average lap speed circuit on our calendar. They had to add a chicane in the uphill to keep the cars on the ground in the late 80's, and the track was still very fast. They added concrete and this changed the grip slightly around the track until the recent repaving in 2008. They did a great job with the repaving, and the lines are more like they were when I raced here in the 1970s. We're thrilled to be back on the "Classic" West Bend and the Bottom Bend/Downhill combination this weekend.
“What makes Lime Rock such an iconic place is the 50 years of history, the wonderful setting and the sheer fan-friendliness of the place. It is a picturesque environment and you really do feel like you're playing in a park. The hillside creates a natural, stadium atmosphere, and the fans are so dedicated and knowledgeable. It's cozy, but also an epic layout. It is made for drama.”
The Dyson Family and Dyson Racing obviously have lots of memorable Lime Rock Park moments, which would you say is your favorite?
“I would say winning here in 1985 was one of the happiest memories. We've had a lot of great days here. I won SCCA regional races here in the 1970s, then watched my son win here in the 2000s.”
As a father, was it exciting or difficult when your son Chris expressed an interest in racing?
“I would say I was very ambivalent about Chris expressing an interest in racing. He's always been a superb athlete, and I know how competitive and driven he is. He grew up immersed in the sport watching me and my guys race, and he was always so on top of what was happening in racing. He wasn't necessarily mechanically inclined as a boy, but he loved the sporting side of what we were doing. He was naturally very good from the first time he raced a kart. But, at the same time, I know the risks that this sport holds, and I wanted to make sure that he understood that if he was going racing, it was entirely his decision. I was excited that he wanted to pursue racing because I saw how much he enjoyed the competition and the fight. But I also know that sometimes when things don't go right in car racing, there can be serious consequences, and I needed to help him to understand that it was his rear end on the line every time he went out there. Thankfully, he's turned out well and has done a terrific job as a driver and as a team leader. But as a father, I'd be lying if I said that there weren't definitely some nerve-wracking times along the way!”
What will be the biggest challenge during the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix on July 9?
“For the drivers, the traffic management is always so important at Lime Rock. You have to be decisive and there is no room for error or poor judgment. This place always catches people out because you have to be aggressive at all times to go quickly, but at the same time it's a small track and you have to play nicely with others. Those two requirements don't always mix well, but that's why when you win an ALMS race here, you've really done a good job.
Another huge factor is the pit strategy and execution in the pits. There's a history of unpredictable yellows at Lime Rock unlike any other track. Because the lap is so short, it's almost impossible to get a lap back if you are on the wrong side of a pit call or a pit stop goes bad. Like I said, it's a dramatic place and you have to come to this place with your A-game, whether you're in the car or out of it.”
Round three of the 2011 American Le Mans Series is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 9 with more than three hours of live video coverage on ESPN3.com in the U.S. and on americanlemans.com outside the U.S. A two-hour race broadcast will air on ESPN2 starting at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 10. Worldwide, live audio coverage also will be available on American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com on July 9. For more information on the broadcasts, go to www.americanlemans.com/tv.
Visit the American Le Mans Series' schedule page for information on tickets and area accommodations.
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