Johannes van Overbeek to Leave the Lizard Lair
Original Lizard Johannes van Overbeek to Bring his GT Racing Experience to Extreme Speed Motorsports
December 22, 2009 - Sonoma, California - As Johannes van Overbeek prepares for his new role driving with Extreme Speed Motorsports, his teammates at Flying Lizard know firsthand the level of racing experience and team building know-how that he will bring to the new group.
Over the last six years, Johannes has been an integral part of Flying Lizard. Even before the team was formed, he was at the center of the first race and pro win for the group (in 2003, at Watkins Glen) that would eventually become Flying Lizard. In 2004, the Lizard's first season in the ALMS, Johannes led the No. 45 Porsche to a surprise second place finish in the GT2 championship, pushing the factory-backed Alex Job team and drivers to the limit, and serving notice that Johannes and co-driver Darren Law were a force to be reckoned with.
Johannes continued in his ALMS career to finish in the top three in the GT2 championship every year through 2008. In 2007 he won prestigious the Porsche Cup, awarded to the top-ranked privateer Porsche driver worldwide. He has finished on the podium in nearly half of his 77 career ALMS starts and has competed at Le Mans four times with the Lizards. Two of his stand-out finishes include winning the 2007 Petit Le Mans (with Joerg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb) and finishing on the podium at the team's first Le Mans entry in 2005.
"Like many of the Lizards, I doubt I would be racing if it wasn't for Johannes," said team principal and driver of the No. 44 Porsche Seth Neiman. "I first drove a Porsche after a call to a business partner of mine (Johannes' dad, Tom) who introduced me to Johannes. Just a few months later, I won my first pro race, driving with Johannes and Lonnie Pechnik. As we built the team, his sense of what was needed, and his personal racing connections quickly became the core of the new team. He has been genuinely instrumental in our development and success, always putting us in the fight. I expect that Scott Sharp will come to rely on him as he builds the new team. I speak for all of us in wishing Johannes the very best!"
Lizard crew chief and co-technical director Tommy Sadler reflected, "Hanging out with Johannes is always an adventure, you never know what's coming next. Later, looking back on what you accomplished, you never regret any of it. Over the last ten years, we've had many a day off the track wondering 'how did we get ourselves into this one?' while hiking, climbing, riding motorcycles and of course, racing. But somehow we have always worked it out and the next project showed up and we were off and running. Johannes has always landed on his feet, and now he's doing it again, moving on to the next exciting level of his racing career."
Flying Lizard chief strategist Thomas Blam added, "One of the things has set Johannes apart as a driver is his willingness to push himself to the limit. The first time I worked with him at the Daytona 24 Hour in 2003 he drove more than half of the race -- more than 12 hours -- to finish third overall. The whole team went to Outback after the race to celebrate; Johannes was so exhausted that he fell asleep in his steak. I have really enjoyed working with him over the years; he was instrumental in getting me to join Flying Lizard, I definitely owe him for that."
Eric Ingraham, team manager and strategist of the No. 44 Porsche, added, "My racing career started with dinner with Johannes at a Thai restaurant in Berkeley, and if not for that dinner, I wouldn't even be in racing! Johannes has been an integral part of the team since the beginning, and I've especially enjoyed being his strategist for the last two seasons, in the No. 46 in 2008 and the No. 44 in 2009. To me, the season finale this year at Laguna Seca really exemplified what a racer he is when he chased down and passed two cars for position, holding one off by six tenths of a second at the checker."
Chief engineer Craig Watkins added, "I met Johannes in 1990 at a Golden Gate Region PCA track day at Laguna Seca. That day, I had no idea that the 18-year old kid in the silver 914 would become one of my best friends and we'd end up at places such as Le Mans together. He has played such a central role in my life -- on and off the track. In fact, he married my wife and me; he got a license to officiate on-line so he could marry us! We'll miss having him on our side -- he will definitely be a formidable competitor."