SCC: Driver Spotlight on Doug Goad

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2001) - The 2001 season for Doug Goad can be best described in his own words - "It's definitely been a season never to forget." He started it off at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in a race car that hardly had any bodywork...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2001) - The 2001 season for Doug Goad can be best described in his own words - "It's definitely been a season never to forget." He started it off at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in a race car that hardly had any bodywork left on it by the end of the famous endurance race, yet somehow finished second in the American GT class. Since then Goad has picked up five overall and 11 class victories in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series. He will return to Daytona next week to end the season at the Grand-Am Finale, and with or without bodywork on the race cars, both his Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup teams look to finish out the season with a clean sweep of their class championships - team owner, driver and manufacturer.

THE BASICS
Series - Rolex Sports Car Series & Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series
Class - American GT & Super Grand Sport
Team - Flis Motorsports Team X-1R & Powell Motorsports
Car - Corvette C5 & Corvette Z06
Date of Birth - November 18, 1957 (Age 43)
Hometown - Farmington Hills, Mich.
Birthplace - Birmingham, Mich.
Spouse - Diane
Children - daughter Taylor (18), son Brandon (16)

2001 SEASON DRIVER HIGHLIGHTS Rolex Series
Rolex 24 At Daytona - 2nd AGT (33rd Overall)
Nextel 250 - 1st AGT (16th Overall)
Sun Automotive 200 - 1st AGT (16th Overall)
Six Hours of The Glen - 1st AGT (9th Overall)
Lime Rock Park Grand Prix - 1st AGT (13th Overall)
ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic - 1st AGT (10th Overall)
Road America 500 - 2nd AGT (21st Overall)
Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières - 1st AGT (3rd Overall)
Bully Hill Vineyards 250 - 3rd AGT (12th Overall)

Grand-Am Cup
Daytona International Speedway - 1st SGS & Overall
Homestead-Miami Speedway - 4th SGS (5th Overall)
Phoenix International Raceway - 9th SGS (38th Overall)
Watkins Glen International - 1st SGS & Overall
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - 1st SGS & Overall
Mosport International Raceway - 1st SGS & Overall
Virginia International Raceway - 1st SGS & Overall
Road America 500 - 1st SGS & Overall
Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières - 2nd SGS (7th Overall)

IN HIS WORDS...

When did you begin racing?
Right after my wife and I moved from college to the Detroit area in 1980, I went out and bought a race car in the fall of 1980. I went to the spring drivers' course at Waterford Hills road course in Pontiac, Michigan. I got my license and started racing in '81. So, my first race was sometime in May of 1981. My first car was a 1972 GT3 Opel Manta.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue racing professionally?
I guess probably when I was about 12 or 13. My dad was an engineer for Chevrolet. He worked with Chevy R&D services, which was a real nice way of putting Chevy race. He used to take off during the summers and go down to a place that I knew as Rattlesnake Raceway, which happened to be in Texas. It is where they developed the Chapparals. He worked in the development team that developed the Chapparals with the Jim Hall group. I went out to some of the races, some of the Can-Am races, in the late 60's/early 70's and just fell in love with the sport.

Do you have any superstitions?
I don't know that I really have any superstitions. I'm just not a very superstitious individual.

What are you thoughts on the 2001 season?
It's definitely been a season never to forget. I'm not sure if we are going to be able to pull this off or not, but just the fact that myself or my co-driver in two different classes are going to be able to get a driver championship, two team championships and two manufacturer championships - it doesn't get any better than that. It's been a really great year. It's been a lot of fun. I hope to be able to repeat it again, though I think every time you say something like that you go down to about 15th place.

What was your most memorable racing moment in 2001?
Well, one I remember vividly is climbing up out of what I think is turn six at Daytona at night in the rain and seeing a SRPII come across my bow and ripping the front of the car apart. I remember that real well.

One of the other vivid memories I've got is of the rain at Phoenix. Again this is in the GT car. We couldn't see. Not just hard to see, but couldn't' see. I remember getting on the radio and calling back to the crew with just a long series of expletives saying that they needed to get up on the trailer and tell me where I was going. And they thought I was kidding, but I was more than serious. It ended up that (team owners) Troy and Todd (Flis) got up on top of the trailers and walked me around the racetrack every single lap. They told me when to hit the throttle. They told me when to brake. They told me to turn left, right. It was remote control racing. That is why we won the race. Everyone else in our class came in, but we just kept going around. Not very fast, but we kept going around. That was probably as nervous as I have ever been in a race car. I remember floating off of the infield. We didn't slide off. We floated off of the infield because there was so much water. I'm not quite sure why we didn't crash. I'm not quite sure how we finished. But I will never forget that race.

I think probably the most memorable moment for me, that comes to mind right now, in the Cup car was the run at Virginia. Just the pure joy of a car that worked perfectly on a racetrack that was extremely challenging and that was new and different. And just barreling through that series of whoop-de-dos in the back. Every single lap I looked forward to getting back there to see if we could do it again, and if the car was really going to stay on the racetrack. That was pretty cool.

Are you and Craig Conway working out a way to tie for the AGT driver championship?
Knock on wood, we will. There are a lot of little things that can go wrong and take it away. I think as long as the car starts, Craig will start. That way he will be guaranteed of his points. Then it's just a matter of me getting the one extra lap to tie it back up. If the car doesn't want to go the distance, then Craig will take the full championship. If the car is willing to go the distance and do her job, then we will have foiled the points guys.

How does it feel to be one race away from possibly winning a driver championship after narrowly missing it last year?
It feels great. The fact is that nobody is going to touch us for the overall championship with driver. Whether Craig gets it alone or we are able to do it as a co-championship, the important thing is we are picking up what really should have been, as far as we're concerned, our second championship.

I was involved in the very, very beginning of the Firehawk Series, and back then IMSA was trying to figure out how to put its rules together and so on. In 1986, because of a couple of goofs we made in the pits and penalties that we took, my dad and I were denied a drivers championship that year. I kind of liken last year's events to a very similar situation in that the sanctioning body was trying to get its feet grounded, working really hard to try to make things right for everybody, and we just kind of trapped ourselves out. And there's not much you can do about it. Certainly within the Flis Motorsports team and between Craig and I, we know that basically we won it last year. There is not question in our minds about that. So this year we are just going to get last year's trophy.

How do you juggle driving in two series?
I have two great teams to work with. They are both very understanding of the other's needs. I've got two fabulous co-drivers. Both are very accomplished and very capable. Most importantly, they are both very willing to put in the extra time in the saddle to sort the car out and get things worked out in the event that I'm off screwing around with the other one. Because they are both good at what they do - they are both A-level drivers - I'm always driving a car that is pretty well sorted out. Both teams are very, very capable, and they make it real easy. There is no stress whatsoever. Even at Mid-Ohio when we had back-to-back races, it was like, 'Oh this is a neat, new challenge for all of us to try and tackle." It just made it a lot of fun.

What are some of the difference between the Corvette C5 you drive in the Rolex Series and the Corvette Z06 you drive in Grand-Am Cup?
The big difference is the way that the cars work. The Z06 Cup car is a very, very finely tuned thoroughbred of a production car, but it's still a production streetcar. So it's got a lot more slip angle in the tires, and it's a little bit touchier as far as your inputs, because it's got a little bit more boost in the power steering. It's very precise, and I'm almost tempted to use the term delicate, although you can throw it into the corner really hard and the car will respond and hook. It really likes a very, very precise light input.

The American GT car, on the other hand, takes a little more, what I call, aggressive finesse. You can easily overdrive the car, but you cannot approach it from a timid standpoint. You have to drive it hard into the corner and really use the throttle to get the car to come through the corner and out. In that matter, both cars are very similar. Both like to come out of the corner on the throttle. They both like to go in relatively hard. On the other hand, it's much easier to overdrive the Cup car into the corner than it is the American GT.

The limit of adhesion on the American GT is much higher. Whereas you get a lot of feedback on the Cup car, the GT doesn't give you quite the feedback. That is one of the transition things you go through to get the brain clicking to the other adhesion point and limit point. It's kind of like a little gyroscope up in the brain that starts to register. 'Uh oh! Wrong car. Wrong place. Wrong time. Oh shit!"

For the most part, they're both very, very capable. We have developed the American GT car into a very comfortable race car. A year ago when I first drove the old Camaro at Daytona, it was a very uncomfortable, very nervous, almost timing diabolical car to try to drive. Now it's just an absolute riot. Although the driving style is different, the cars are both a lot of fun.

What are your plans for the 2002 season?
They are starting to settle down now a little bit. On the Cup side, I think there is a strong interest on the Powell Motorsports team to go and try and get another team championship and another manufacturer championship for Chevrolet. And it looks like we have a big onslaught of Porsches coming our way, which will make it quite a challenge. There is also a strong interest with John (Powell) to develop a GT car for the GT class of the Rolex Series. I have a feeling that's probably, because of the events of September and the overall business climate right now, going to have to sit for about a year, which is not a bad idea.

I would say its probably 80 to 90 percent likely that I'm going to be back in the seat with Craig in the Flis car to take it on again in American GT next year.

What goals do you have set for yourself?
To raise two healthy kids, who start two healthy families. Retire early. And race for the rest of my life.

Probably my biggest aspiration, and I've told a couple of people this, is that both of my kids have indicated an interest in racing. And I don't know they will really keep that interest, because they both know that they can't race until they are out of college. That was the deal I made with my dad. That is the deal I have with them. But if they are interested, one of my aspirations would be to run the 24 hours of Le Mans with my two kids as my co-drivers. I think that would be pretty cool.

At one point in time, God willing if things go the way that I hope they go, I would like to start up a racing organization and move up into SRP, because that really is where I would like to be - in the SRP cars.

What hobbies do you have outside of racing?
I enjoy snow skiing, boating, hiking, camping and being with the kids, which means doing just about everything that they want to do. It's usually a pretty full calendar during the year.

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
I think as time goes by we begin to realize more and more what an influence our parents have. I would have to say they had the biggest influence. You asked me what got me started in auto racing, and there is no question it was the influence of my dad being involved in motorsports. At the time he would disappear and go do it, and I would miss him during the summer. But he was following his dream, and it kind of taught me to do the same thing. Now there is no way I would be doing what I'm doing, either in business or in motorsports, if it hadn't been for the influence they gave me back when I was sniffling little brat.

The second one, probably right along there, is my wife Diane. We have been married for almost 24 years. The same things hold true. We've grown together. We started dating as seniors in high school, and it has been a very interesting journey together.

What else would you like sports car fans to know?
We need their support. We need sports car fans to get it to the other fans of NASCAR and those open wheel things that we've got some of the greatest racing in the world going on, and we need them to show up. We basically do this whole thing as much for our own satisfaction as we do it for them.

One of the real memorable moments I have in racing is something that is totally different now from where I was with running the Firebird. For as many years that I ran the Firebirds, there has always been a good following of Pontiac people. However something very memorable happened when I got into the Corvette. Not this past year but the year before, for the first race at Daytona the halfshaft broke, and we rolled to halfway back in the back of the racetrack. These guys came up, and they had tears in their eyes, because we were racing against the Vipers and were soundly thrashing the Vipers, which was kind of nice. To see that kind of enthusiasm, satisfaction and appreciation out of fans is what makes it even that much more fun. There is no question that we do this for ourselves, because we enjoy it, but I can only imagine what it is like to be driving a NASCAR and having that kind of loyalty and appreciation for what you do. It's got to be pretty awesome. We need our fans to go get more fans.

Tickets to the Grand-Am Finale, being held as part of the Manheim's Daytona Auto Auction Presents The Brumos Continental Historics at Daytona International Speedway, Nov. 1-4, are currently on sale at the Speedway ticket office. They may be purchased by calling 386-253-RACE (7223) or by logging on to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

Additional information about the Grand-Am Finale, the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series is available online at www.grand-am.com.

-GrandAm-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Doug Goad , Craig Conway