They will have a long 24 hours ahead, in a new car, with a new driver lineup, but Spencer Pumpelly Racing (SPR) is getting all the experience it can muster into one potent package. The Richmond, Virginia based team has one immediate goal, to chase down the GT victory at the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The team will run a Porsche GT3-R in the first Grand Am event of the North American based series second season. Team leader Spencer Pumpelly is optimistic about the team's chances in what is internationally recognized as one of America's premier sportscar racing events.
"We have been testing the car at Virginia International Raceway, and so far, things are looking good for our first race. We have signed on some incredible talent and I feel fortunate to be sharing the driving with these great people. And I love having modern equipment!"
That last line was a reference to the old - in every sense of the word - Porsche 911 that Pumpelly campaigned in 2000, as finances permitted. The under-funded team had an amazing run at Watkins Glen this past summer - in a car that didn't even have electronic fuel injection - losing time to a filler nozzle problem that brought them into the pits several times. In spite of this deterrent, they still managed to keep moving forward throughout the 6 hour Grand Am endurance race.
For the 2001 season, SPR has made a pivotal move to help them advance even closer to the podium. The team picked up a very competitive, and very current, model Porsche GT3R. The car was previously campaigned by Reiser-Callas Rennsport with veterans Hurley Haywood and Craig Stanton at the wheel. The car is a 2000 GT3-R, with a 415hp engine and 6-speed transmission. At Daytona, the new Porsche will hit a top speed of 170mph on the banking. The 25-year old Pumpelly wryly comments, "This will be the first time I will be racing a car in GT that isn't older than I am!"
Joining Pumpelly at the Rolex will be Steven Ivankovich , a 6' 4" tall veteran of the Ferrari Challenge series. Even more experience takes a seat behind the wheel as well with the addition of Skip Barber Driving Instructor - and Speedvision World Challenge competitor - Rick DiIorio (pronounced De-oreo).
Pumpelly's father, Tom Pumpelly, was the inspiration for Spencer's involvement with fast cars. "My Dad ran the Ford Probe GTP cars with Tom Milner in 1989. I went to every race and that was how I developed the desire to race. I next went to Skip Barber and did his race series and then moved into sports cars. That's really where I want to be because that's where my dad raced and where my racing interests first developed."
The elder Pumpelly is no stranger to the Rolex, having made a stab at winning several times. Like father, like son? "My ultimate goal in racing is to win the Rolex 24 overall. It goes back to when I was younger and I watched my dad race. He actually led the 24 hours back in 1982, in a Ferrari 512, until the engine let go before dawn. Mechanical disappointments followed his career. Fortunately I have had a bit better luck. But my goal is to win in Daytona."
Team Member Bios:
Spencer Pumpelly became interested in racing at an early age watching his father race sportscars. At age 19 he attended the Skip Barber Racing School to learn the art of racing. In his first two years as a racer, Spencer stayed within the Skip Barber Racing organization, racing in the Formula Dodge Eastern Series, winning several races in the open wheel cars. Through contacts he made in the amateur ranks, he landed a ride in the 1997 Rolex 24 racing a Camaro in the GT1 class. Spencer has since been a regular competitor in the GT3 sportscar class and has been very successful with an outdated car. The 2001 Rolex 24 will be the 25-year-olds fourth attempt in the race. Spencer, who is single, now works as an instructor at the Skip Barber Racing School and resides in Mason Neck Virginia, which is a suburb of the Washington DC area.
Steve Ivankovick has raced both closed and open wheel cars in his career. Most recently, Steve has been a competitor in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series. Steve brings solid sedan experience to the team, having been a competitor in the closely contested Ferrari challenge in both 1997 and 1998.
Ivankovick is single and lives in Chicago, Illinois
Rick DiIorio (De-Oreo)
Currently an instructor for the Skip Barber Racing School, Rick began his involvement in racing 15 years ago in both autocross and club racing. His interest in muscle cars led him to compete on the professional level in the American sedan class, where he captured the championship in 1995. For 2001, Rick will be competing in his second Rolex 24. Last year he drove an AGT class Camaro to a podium finish in the prestigious race.
"I am really excited to see how the other side lives! While I am an instructor, I can always learn something new myself! I am looking forward to learning the techniques of driving the rear engine Porsche. From what I have heard, our car is one of the best factory racecars ever. Last year, we had an antiquated car in the Camaro. When I looked at it in practice, I was a bit nervous that we could compete, but we ended up finishing third. This time, we are going into the race with one of the best cars out there, and I'm not nervous at all!
"It is great to be running with Spencer and Steve. I think we have an excellent chance to finish on the podium. Center position on the podium would be fine, thank you!"
DiIorio is 38, single, and he resides in Harvard, Massachusetts.
2001 will mark the 30th year of an amazing racing career for Tom Pumpelly. He began racing in SCCA Formula Ford in 1971 and quickly moved to Formula Atlantic, where he won 17 national races. His first taste of Daytona came as a driver in a 63-car Formula Ford national race, where he was able to take the victory. In 1982 and again in '83, he ran in the 24 hours leading both races until engine failure put him out both times. He next ran in the 24-hour endurance class in 1986, driving a Fabcar Porsche GTP Light. In 1988 and '89, he drove a Ford GTP car for Tom Milner racing (currently running the BMW North American team in the ALMS) but he was again unable to finish the races due to mechanical problems. In
1990 he drove the Corvette GTP, with Jack Baldwin, but has not been in a race since. The 2001 Rolex 24 will be his first race in 11 years.
"Nothing has really changed since then, the goal is still to win the race. I ran the Fabcar GTP lights car in 1987, so I am familiar with what it is like to be in the slower class. Despite all the bumping going on between the prototypes and the slower GT cars in the ALMS, we really don't feel the faster cars should be a problem. There will be a lot of traffic though, so I will be sure to keep my wits about me!"
A resident of Mason Neck, Virginia, 55 year old Tom Pumpelly will be joining his son Spencer for the first time at the 2001 Rolex 24.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Paul Chabris is one more experienced element in the potent mix that is SPR. Chabris has been with the team for over a year and was instrumental in the team's incredible runs in the 2000 season. Paul, who resides in the Richmond area with his wife and daughter, also works as a field engineer for US filter.
Spencer Pumpelly Racing Is Sponsored By
The North Atlantic Marine Group(NAMG)
<pre> 2001 SPR Season Schedule
Month Event Circuit Series
Feb Rolex 24 Daytona Grand Am Mar 12 Hours of Endurance Sebring ALMS May 6 Hours of Endurance Watkins Glen Grand Am May Dodge Dealers Grand Prix Lime Rock Park Grand Am June US Road Racing Classic Mid Ohio Grand Am July Road America 500 Road America Grand Am Aug Watkins Glen 250 Watkins Glen Grand Am Sept Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta ALMS