DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2001) - After starting the 2001 Rolex Sports Car Series season on a low note with an early exit from the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Chris Bingham is looking forward to changing his luck during his second trip to Daytona ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2001) - After starting the 2001 Rolex Sports Car Series season on a low note with an early exit from the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Chris Bingham is looking forward to changing his luck during his second trip to Daytona International Speedway for the Grand-Am Finale, Nov. 1-3. Bingham scored his first-ever professional race victory at this year's Nextel 250 and followed it with five more class wins throughout the 2001 campaign, putting the 29-year old driver atop the GTS driver standings. He only has to complete one lap under green flag conditions to clinch the championship during the three-hour Rolex Series race on Saturday, Nov. 3. His first professional win and driver championship in the same year - not too shabby for a rookie season.
Series - Rolex Sports Car Series
Class - GTS
Team - Park Place Racing/Fordahl Motorsports
Car - Saleen S7R
Date of Birth - December 15, 1971 (Age 29)
Hometown - Bellevue, Wash.
Birthplace - Seattle, Wash.
Spouse - Cherish
Children - Race (12/11/00)
2001 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Nextel 250 - 1st GTS (9th Overall)
Sun Automotive 200 - 2nd GTS (13th Overall)
Six Hours of The Glen - 1st GTS (6th Overall)
ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic - 1st GTS (6th Overall)
Road America 500 - 1st GTS (6th Overall)
Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières - 1st GTS (10th Overall)
Bully Hill Vineyards 250 - 1st GTS (9th Overall)
Nine-time X-1R 'Run With The Best' Pole Award Winner
Current leader in the GTS driver championship standings
IN HIS WORDS...
When did you begin racing?
I actually started out in motocross and in carts. I would say I was around 14.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue racing professionally?
When I went to Jim Russell Racing School in 1991 and did their advance driving school.
Do you have any superstitions?
None. I don't believe in any superstitions at all. People ask me all the time if I have any superstitions, and I never have. I don't believe in it.
What are your thoughts on the 2001 season?
It's been a great year for our first year in the car and to develop a new car. To have won as many races as we have, six of eight basically because we didn't run Daytona. We didn't have the car at the Daytona race. I ran a Viper there and had a disappointing finish.
It's been a great year. I'm leading the championship. Now I have to do one lap to win the championship at Daytona coming up. The crew has done a great job. We had a few faults in the beginning at Phoenix with a lug nut. We had one incident at Lime Rock with some problems with rain and defrosting the car, but other than that, it's been a great year.
What was your most memorable racing moment in 2001?
I'd say it would probably be my first race win in my professional career at Homestead. That's any driver's memorable mark to do that.
How does it feel to be one race away from winning your first driver championship?
It feels great. A lot of opportunities are knocking on my door, and I'm just exciting about it.
Tell us about teaming up with Team Seattle for next year's Rolex 24 At Daytona.
We are going to be running two cars in the Team Seattle program, raising money for Children's Hospital. We will have four drivers per car. The driver lineup right now, that we know of, is Don Kitch, my dad will be in that car (David Bingham), Mike Solomon and Don Valencia. My car will be most likely me, Wade Gaughran, Dave Gaylord and whoever my co-driver for next year's series will be. I don't know if Saleen is coming back with me next year to have involvement as a semi-factory effort again. I'm still searching for my co-driver for next season.
Are you looking forward to racing with your father?
I really am. My dad has been a mental supporter of me my whole life. We've always kind of been racing together in club stuff. He's very fast. It's going to be exciting to get him into an actual professional car.
What are your plans for the 2002 season?
Well, we are running two cars, and we plan to be back again. As of right now, I have had someone who is actually pursuing me for an IRL ride right now. Of course I can't disclose who that is yet because it's in negotiations. That's where I started, in open wheel. I have been in sports car for a while. We still plan to run the Saleen team whether I am going to be at all the races or a few of them, depending on what happens with Indy car. I'm 29 years old and my goal is to obviously continue in professional racing as what I do for a living. I want to climb the ropes like anyone else does. Although I love sports car racing, that is where I want to end up and be and continue being a part of, I also want to get my name out there. The Indy 500 has always been something I've dreamed of being in. I just want to pursue my options.
What goals do you have set for yourself?
The Indy 500, of course. I would love to run Indy cars. Being a Grand-Am champion was a goal of mine, and I've achieved it this year. I don't have any intention of going to Formula One. I guess I would pursue CART possibly if there was an opportunity, but not unless it was a competitive team. I'm just keeping my options open.
What hobbies do you have outside of racing?
I'm very into golf and skiing. I have a strong fitness regiment of running and swimming. I don't have much time for anything else.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
I would say my father. He got me into racing and being involved in the car business. Being around racing has kind of kept me motivated throughout my life.
What else would you like your fans to know?
I want to just thank our sponsors from last season. BASF. HCI. Yokohama Tires has been a great help for us. TransGroup, who is going to be on our car for the last race of the season and hope to come on aboard next season with us. And Gatorz Eyewear has been a good help for us. Not only are they supplying us with sunglasses and this, that and the other, but also some other endeavors, as well as trying to promote me as a driver. All the fans should come see the Gatorz girls at our rig during the Finale.
Tickets to the Grand-Am Finale, being held as part of the Manheim's Daytona Auto Auction Presents The Brumos Continental Historics at Daytona International Speedway, Nov. 1-4, are currently on sale at the Speedway ticket office. They may be purchased by calling 386-253-RACE (7223) or by logging on to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
Additional information about the Grand-Am Finale and the Rolex Sports Car Series is available online at www.grand-am.com.