Mexico City: Bill Auberlen race report

Bill Auberlen continued to win races and set records in 2005, adding 11 victories and eight records to his impressive resume. The Redondo Beach, Calif., driver competed in four series this season, driving BMW M3s in the Rolex Sports Car Series and...

Bill Auberlen continued to win races and set records in 2005, adding 11 victories and eight records to his impressive resume. The Redondo Beach, Calif., driver competed in four series this season, driving BMW M3s in the Rolex Sports Car Series and selected Grand-Am Cup races, a Panoz Esperante GTLM in the American Le Mans Series and a BMW 325i in three SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship races. He also drove the Panoz in the prestigious 24 Heures du Mans in France, where he qualified third in the GT2 class.

Auberlen's career has been packed with awards. He has earned 68 victories and 123 podium finishes en route to six sports-car racing championships. Four of those championships came in three fast years, from 2002 to 2004. His career score includes 52 pole positions, 40 with record qualifying laps, and 59 fastest race laps, 45 of them records. He has set 98 series and track records during the past 15 years as a professional racer.

"To be able to click off championships and wins and records, year after year, is absolutely incredible. It's a tribute to the people I've worked with and the cars I've driven. I've just been so fortunate to be in some of the best equipment there is. When that combination comes together, it's lethal and it wins," Auberlen said.

The driver, of course, is also part of the equation. With a clear focus on sports-car racing, Auberlen has honed the unique skill mix required for long endurance races -- maximizing speed while preserving the car for the finish. He achieves the seemingly conflicting goals with a wily mix of chess mastery and racing talent.

"First you have to get to the end of the race, but I don't think about that as much as how I can chess-match my way to the front and not get the car damaged," he explained. "I've done endurance racing so long that it just becomes instinctual. You have to learn to do that at a super-fast rate, so that you're still on record pace and also taking care of the equipment."

His early years may have tipped the balance in his favor. Auberlen started racing motocross at age four and went on to win 39 per cent of the 200-plus races he entered.

"In some of the other sports I came out of, if I wrecked, I got hurt," he explained. "In motocross, you're side by side. If you go over a jump wrong and touch somebody else, something on your body is going to break. Maybe it taught me to to always be that one inch away that you need to be. You don't need to touch somebody every time to make a pass. You don't need to go clunking into everything in front of you to win."

Auberlen has shown the formula works, but he's not content to rest on past success. He's already gearing up to prove it again in 2006.

-Sylvia Proudfoot

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bill Auberlen