DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 31, 2003) -- Fielding a race car in the Grand-Am Cup Series is no easy task. From car preparation at the race shop to transportation of equipment and crew to events to pit stops during the race, the list of things to take care of is endless. Now take all that work and responsibility and multiply by two, three or even six and you get an idea of what many of the multi-car teams in Grand-Am Cup face.
While teams in many racing series field only one or perhaps two entries in each race, one of the unique aspects of the Grand-Am Cup Series is the large number of teams campaigning several cars in each race. At the upcoming Grand-Am Cup Miami 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 32 of the 56 cars on the pre-entry list have been entered by multi-car teams.
"For professional teams and drivers looking to advance in their racing career, Grand-Am Cup is a great series to gain valuable experience. At the same time, it's a great place for those recreational drivers who want to experience something more than club racing, but might not have the time or funding to move into the Rolex Series," explains Grand American Road Racing Association Director of Competition Mark Raffauf.
"Because Grand-Am Cup can provide so much to a wide variety of driver types at different levels of expertise, you find several teams being able to easily put together multi-car teams. Some teams focus on only one type of car in a single class, while others offer a driver the opportunity to start in one of the Sport Touring classes and stay with the same team when they are ready to move up into Grand Sport by fielding entries in both divisions," he added.
Whether a team enters several cars into one of Grand-Am Cup's four classes or several of them, it does not diminish the difficult task a team faces of making sure all its race cars are competitive when the green flag falls.
"There are three keys to running our team - delegation, accountability and checklists," explains Team Lexus owner and driver Chuck Goldsborough, whose team fields up to four entries in Grand-Am Cup's Sport Touring I class.
"I try to delegate everything so that no one person has too much on them," adds Goldsborough, who watched a Team Lexus car and driver take the ST I team owner and driver championships last season. "We have very strict accountability, and we have lots of checklists. I believe checklists are very important. We have them for everything. Some people make fun of us for them, but when we check and re-check everything it really decreases the chances of overlooking something."
Team Lexus is not the only Grand-Am Cup multi-car team that believes checklists are key to keeping a team running well. "We have lots of checklists," remarked Nuzzo Motorsports team owner and driver Tony Nuzzo whose team campaigns a pair of new Mini Coopers in ST I. "We take parts inventory before we leave the shop to make sure we have a supply of anything we might need at the racetrack, and we have lists of things to go over to make sure the cars are race ready."
One of the most successful multi-car teams in the Grand-Am Cup Series has been the Planet Earth Motorsports and HRPworld.com teams run by the Nonnamaker family. While Planet Earth is listed as the team name on the Grand Sport II entries and HRPworld.com on the Sport Touring II cars, both teams are under the control of Joe Nonnamaker, his wife Kristine and his sons Wayne and Will.
This year the team, which has captured the ST II championship the last two years, has stepped up its efforts with plans to campaign as many as six cars between the two Grand-Am Cup classes.
"The key to our success is organization and division of duties," explains Will Nonnamaker. "It's truly a team effort for us. We have weekly meetings and run everything just like we run our other businesses. It's fun, but taken very seriously."
Preparation is another aspect that has helped in the Nonnamaker's success. "We are already preparing for Mid-Ohio (June 27-29). People sometimes don't realize how far in advance you have to plan. We are already ordering our replacements parts, so we are sure that we'll have them here in time for a race that's still three months away," continues the eldest of the Nonnamaker brothers. "Not long after we are celebrating in Victory Lane we are planning for the next race. On the way home from the races, we are already making lists of everything that needs to be done when we get back to the garage and delegating duties."
While fielding multiple cars in a race might improve a team's odds of posting a good finish, it can also prove to be bitter sweet when one car succeeds and another runs into trouble. "It's like having two kids playing on the same team and one is getting benched and the other is out there playing his heart out. We experienced that at Daytona when we had to retire one car while the other was still out there running," said Nuzzo of the debut race for his new Mini Coopers.
Round two of the 2003 Grand-Am Cup Series is the Miami 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, April 12-13. Tickets for the event will be available at the gate for $10 each day or $15 for a two-day pass. Additional information about the Grand-Am Cup Series can be found online at www.grandamerican.com.