SCC: An interview with Scott Schlesinger

Scott Schlesinger has been a part of sportscar racing for over a decade now. Schlesinger has come on strong this season though as the three year development of the Porsche Boxster has turned the car into a race winning machine. Schlesinger is ...

Scott Schlesinger has been a part of sportscar racing for over a decade now. Schlesinger has come on strong this season though as the three year development of the Porsche Boxster has turned the car into a race winning machine. Schlesinger is getting twice the fun this year as he is driving the SpeedSource Porsche Boxster in all the Grand Am Cup events, and in select events this season he has driven the SpeedSource Porsche 911. The success this season has put Scott sixth in the Driver's Championship in ST1.

Question: Congrats on a great season so far in the Porsche Boxster. It seems that the development time that you and SpeedSource have put into the car have really paid off. Standing in victory circle at Barber and California, was all the effort worth it?

Scott Schlesinger: Thanks, Wayne. The effort was definitely worth it, I wish we would have gotten there sooner, because success has a tendency to perpetuate itself. We are running every race now with very high hopes.

Question: Now you have stepped into a SpeedSource Porsche 911 a couple of times. How do the two cars compare from your standpoint? Is either one harder to drive and is the extra power very noticeable in the 911?

Scott Schlesinger: The cars are not dramatically different to drive at all, obviously the 911 has a tendency to oversteer, but (SpeedSource Team Owner) Sylvain (Tremblay) and the Team have dialed in a bit of understeer so we don't burn up the rear tires before the drivers stint is over. It is harder to find the edge in the Boxster because the car is so neutral. The 911 power difference is not noticeably dramatic but you can tell its got the torque. I'd have to say the Boxster is harder to drive. What I like is driving different cars it helps me to drive better overall, more seat time, more variety.

Question: What are the Boxster's strong points that allow it to compete in he ST1 class?

Scott Schlesinger: The Boxster has great power for the ST I class. Getting it to handle has been challenging. Low and stiff in the front, soft in the back seems to be the trick right now. Sylvain and (SpeedSource suspension engineer) Dave (Haskell) have the car handling better than ever. I'm too superstitious to mention reliability!

Question: One of your past co-drivers, Alan Gefland, used to be a bit of a skateboarder. It is a pretty interesting story, but one that I don't think a lot of fans know much about. Tell us a little about Alan's skateboarding past and I hear there is a monster half pipe hiding somewhere in Florida?

Scott Schlesinger: Alan was a national champion pro skater in the early 80s and invented, "the Ollie" which was the no handed aerial move that is widely regarded as the trick that changed the face of skateboarding. At 40 years old he is skating everyday and traveling the country competing. And yes, there is a large warehouse somewhere in Hollywood Florida filled to the ceiling with a fifty foot long 12 foot high skate ramp. We built it for Ollie to use, now its on magazine covers, tv shows and skaters stop in from all over to session it. Right now, we are bowling out both ends of the pipe, it is going to be amazing. You should come and see it next year during the Homestead race weekend.

Question: Thanks. That's an offer I might take you up on, although I don't think you'll see me trying it out. You came up with a new nickname for one of your co-drivers this season.. you called team owner Sylvain Tremblay.. Sylvain in the Rain. While your victory at Barber may have been partly due to the wet driving talents of 'Sylvain in the Rain', the California win had to be pretty special since it was a heads up dry race that you won. Since you also got the pole there, your first professional one (right?), what is it about that track that suits you?

Scott Schlesinger: Yes, Fontana was my first pole in professional racing. the weather was great, the tires were new, we went out and in two laps clicked off a time over a second faster than we'd gone during testing and practice. The car was so much better this year at Cali than last year both in handling and power. the big giant straight away helped but only because we could fly through the bowl. the infield was tight and bumpy but you could put the power down this year. Last year the car was terrible in the last complex of turns leading onto the front straight. I think we went a couple of seconds a lap faster this year. I'd say I feel bad that my co-driver from last year couldn't enjoy the improvement this year, but J. C. is doing just fine with the cars he is currently driving.

As were finishing up with Scott, we caught SpeedSource team owner Sylvain Tremblay and were able to ask him a quick question as well:

Question: Scott has been a part of SpeedSource since it returned to professional racing in 2001 after a two year hiatus. That whole time Scott has been committed to the Boxster effort. How enjoyable was it to see him be rewarded with two wins and a pole so far this season? Also do you think part of this season's success has been due to development by Scott as a driver?

Sylvain Tremblay: Scott has been a part of SpeedSource since it returned to professional racing in 2001 after a two year hiatus. That whole time Scott has been committed to the Boxster effort. How enjoyable was it to see him be rewarded with two wins and a pole so far this season? Also do you think part of this season's success has been due to development by Scott as a driver? Their is no doubt that the single biggest step forward has been Scott improvement as a driver and his ability to tell us what he needs the car to feel like. Seat time for Scott in both of his GSII and ST1 Porsche race cars has made a huge difference in his comfort level at the track, his confidence has soared and his speed is undeniable. One of our biggest issues with the Boxster is that we learned not to set it up like a 911, once we went a different direction, the car responded to changes and the on track performance improved greatly. The ongoing development program led by our technical director David Haskell has seen us make jumps in handling and our new Dyno has benefited the horsepower side of this great little car. Three years is a long time with a car and the John Beitz lead team and Scott understand this mid engine sportscar better than ever and the on track success is just icing on the cake. As a driver coach, seeing a pupil improve to were Scott is at, has been very gratifying. As a team owner, success in any of our program is rewarding, but for a three year commitment to finally "pay off" just make it that much more special.

By Wayne Nonnamaker

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