South Florida Entrepreneur Turns Passion to Profession with Debut in 24 Hours at Daytona
MIAMI (Jan. 10, 2006) -- Russ Oasis has always lived his life in the fast lane -- building and selling an ad agency to a global company, taking struggling radio stations and turning them into gold. On Jan. 28, Oasis, 55, makes his professional race car driving debut as he joins teammates Tommy Archer, Leighton Reese and Dino Crescentini in Daytona Beach for the 24 Hours at Daytona, one of the most grueling races in the world.
A former disc jockey, Oasis founded one of the most successful advertising agencies in Florida, The Ad Team, specializing in automotive advertising. After selling the agency to Omnicom, he returned to radio, buying struggling radio stations in South Florida and Fort Wayne, Ind., and turning them to gold.
Oasis has always pursued his passion for cars. He has raced three seasons with the amateur Viper Racing League, earning the league's 2003 Rookie of the Year title. Oasis said he was surprised by an invitation from racing champ Tommy Archer to join him as part of the race's four-man team. Oasis will be sponsored by The Hair Cuttery.
"Being in this race is the opportunity of a lifetime," said Oasis. "Cars and racing have always been a passion of mine. I started taking racing lessons in the 1980s and I am thrilled to fulfill one of my childhood dreams to race professionally."
Archer, the 2004 Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship winner, brings years of experience to the team.
"My brother recommended we ask Russ to join us. I had instructed him when he first joined the Viper League and was familiar with his style," said Archer. "This race requires concentration and consistency and is more physically demanding than the 24 hours of Le Mans. It is a great chance for Russ to get his feet wet in the professional ranks."
The Daytona race is the second largest 24-hour race in the world next to Le Mans in France. However, Archer maintains the Rolex 24 at Daytona is more intense.
"Le Mans runs on a longer track with 48 cars," said Archer. "At Daytona, with more cars and shorter run, drivers are always passing or being passed. You have to been on your toes at all times."
With 60 to 80 cars moving at 180 miles per hour or more and a cockpit that reaches 170 degrees, maintaining concentration, speed and consistency is challenging. Archer said drivers will shift 500 to 600 times in an hour.
"There's constant communication between the cars and the pits," adds Archer. "I'll be there to talk Russ through any challenges on the track."
To prepare for the race, Oasis has increased in cardiovascular regimen. The team will start practicing on track the first week in January. For the big race, they will be driving teammate Leighton Reese's C-6 Corvette.
According to Oasis, decisions on how drivers are rotated throughout the 24-hours are made spontaneously.
"If someone likes to drive at night, they may drive a little longer," said Oasis. "If a team member doesn't care for driving in rain, they may shorten their drive. And, we'll have a trailer on site for drivers to take cat naps as needed but we don't expect any shut eye in the first 12 hours of the race."
Oasis and his team will be competing against the racing world's heavy hitters. Last year's participants included Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman, racing legend Rusty Wallace, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, 2005's Nextel Cup Champion, Tony Stewart, and up-and-coming driver Danica Patrick.
The official practices for the race are held at the Daytona International Speedway two days leading up to the race with the Rolex 24 commencing at noon on Saturday, Jan. 28, and ending 24-hours later at noon on Sunday, Jan. 29.
For tickets or more information about the Rolex 24, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.