Flying Lizard - new sports-car team to debut at Daytona

Flying Lizard Motorsports will make its sports-car racing debut on Nov. 1, competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Daytona International Speedway. The race will give the California team a headstart on its 2004 season, which will...

Flying Lizard Motorsports will make its sports-car racing debut on Nov. 1, competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Daytona International Speedway. The race will give the California team a headstart on its 2004 season, which will include both American Le Mans Series and Rolex Series races.

The name and scarlet graphics are new, but the Daytona race will be the third start for Flying Lizard Motorsports and the No. 83 Porsche 911 GT3 RS owned by the group. Racing under the RennWerks Motorsports banner, the team competed in two previous Rolex Series races this year - and finished on the GT podium both times.

Seth Neiman of Burlingame, Calif., Lonnie Pechnik of Pacific Grove, Calif., and Johannes van Overbeek of San Francisco were quick from the start. They topped the GT podium and finished third overall in the six-hour race at Watkins Glen International in New York, then combined for second in class and fourth overall in the six-hour enduro at le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Québec.

"The first two events are hopefully precursors to our upcoming season," van Overbeek said. "As of Daytona, the lizard is officially hatched! It's a great group because of the organization and mutual respect. That's the reason we were able to be successful so quickly."

The move from RennWerks to Flying Lizard was a planned transition, carefully managed by the five team principals - Neiman, Pechnik, van Overbeek, chief engineer Craig Watkins of Sebastopol, Calif., and crew chief Tommy Sadler of San Jose, Calif.

"RennWerks did a wonderful job supporting us and helping us find our legs," Neiman said. "They've been strong partners in keeping us competitive as we moved from renting a ride to supporting our car to launching our team today."

Neiman, Pechnik and van Overbeek will drive the Flying Lizard Porsche this week. The Rolex Series race is scheduled to start at 1 pm ET on Saturday, Nov. 1, on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway infield road course in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"Things are really starting to come together and I feel very lucky to have this opportunity with Flying Lizard," Pechnik said. "It will be my first race at Daytona, and I'm excited that we'll make our first start as Flying Lizard at such a historic venue."

Flying Lizard Motorsports

car/colors
No. 83 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RS titanium grey front, red roof and rear, lizard logo on rear side panels

drivers
Seth Neiman, Burlingame, Calif.
Lonnie Pechnik, Pacific Grove, Calif.
Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, Calif.

driver helmets
Neiman - titanium grey with stylized red rectangle around visor
Pechnik - red top, white horizontal stripe, blue trapezoid on back with danger sign
van Overbeek - orange with black stars

team personnel
chief engineer Craig Watkins, Sebastopol, Calif.
crew chief Tommy Sadler, San Jose, Calif.

pronunciation
Neiman NY man
Pechnik PETCH nik
Johannes van Overbeek yo HON us van O vr bek

Seth Neiman

started his career as a guitarist, became an engineer and engineering manager during the computer revolution, was founder and chief executive officer of Brocade Communications Inc., then moved to venture capital and racing

why racing? "The appeal is mostly about how hard it is to do well, and how different it is from all the other areas I have [been] deeply involved in so far in my life. The last 25 years for me have been very analytical. Racing can use [analysis], but driving the car is more like a sort of real-time meditation. It's mental, but it's not thinking!"

earned a letter in high-school track for discus-throwing; has raced sailboats; also enjoys cycling, books, travel and "hanging with my kids"

says he's "not a great chef, but certainly a good cook", with Asian and Italian specialties

Lonnie Pechnik

12-year race career has combined competition - Skip Barber, SCCA and NASA racing - and business, as senior instructor and race-car tester at Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park and Laguna Seca Raceway - "The best thing about teaching young drivers is seeing their potential realized."

his passion for performance includes street and race cars - "I've been paid to drive almost every high-performance street car (Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, BMW, Porsche, etc.) at the limit, and I have tested a wide variety of race cars."

proposed to his wife at the Nürburgring after a few fast laps on the Nordschleife

other sports include cave and technical diving (including a live-aboard dive in Papua New Guinea), surfing, alpine skiing and snowboarding; tried sky diving and bungee-jumping, but decided they were "too scary"; played ice hockey in college; member of wrestling, football and lacrosse teams in high school

Johannes van Overbeek

race highlights - 2003 Rolex Sports Car Series GT - one win, five podiums in five races; 2002 World Challenge GT - six consecutive podiums; 2001 World Challenge GT - third in driver championship, one win, two poles; 1999 American Le Mans Series GT - third in driver championship, one win, four podiums

competed in the Mille Miglia race in 1999, driving the 1957 Maserati in which Juan Manuel Fangio won the Grand Prix of Argentina en route to his sixth world championship

enjoys the certainty of racing - "The results are very clear at the end. In a lot of things in life, the progress that you make isn't as obvious. In racing, it's black and white: Whoever won can say they were the best that day."

started his first business (a mail service) at age 14, gaining skills that have been valuable in racing - "It boils down to knowing what you want and knowing how to get it, being precise enough to tell people what you want. The advantage to being involved with a business early on is I had so much more time to refine my presentation and learn about people."

returns to racing this week after a relaxing 18-day honeymoon in Hawaii and the continental United States

-sp-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Craig Watkins , Juan Manuel Fangio , Johannes van Overbeek , Skip Barber , Seth Neiman , Lonnie Pechnik
Teams Flying Lizard Motorsports