SCC: Randy Pobst answers fans' questions

The Winner Answers - Pobst Responds To Fans Questions DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 25, 2003) -- Randy Pobst celebrated his first Grand-Am Cup victory in Miami two weeks ago and today he responds to questions fans had for the Porsche racer. Pobst...

The Winner Answers - Pobst Responds To Fans Questions

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 25, 2003) -- Randy Pobst celebrated his first Grand-Am Cup victory in Miami two weeks ago and today he responds to questions fans had for the Porsche racer. Pobst talks about his plans for the remainder of the 2003 season, his racing rivals and responds to a much asked question - can that talented of a racer really be human?

Q: Why do you feel that the Porsches have slowly dominated this year and what is happening to the Vette camp?

Pobst: I, too, am surprised that the Powell Vettes seem to be a tad less competitive than last year. They did get a weight penalty for this season. I found (Doug) Goad to be the toughest to pass on the way to first, but I got him in braking for turn two. Mike (Levitas) and I developed a superior setup and strategy for this race. Our Porsche was very strong on the high-speed banked NASCAR turns, and into turn two, which follows closely the high-speed turn one.

We also chose to risk the extra pit stops under yellows to fit new Hoosier tires. We had them covered with our handling.

Q: When is Grand-Am going to start making you drive with one hand?

Pobst: Thanks, I think that's a compliment. I'll tell you this, I'm pretty sure our 2003 Porsche has received a weight increase for the next race from the rule makers.

Mike and I tried hard to point out our strategy and setup advantage. We feel we did a good job at Homestead in that regard, and that is why we won, not rules superiority.

Mike came to the track excited about the setup he had developed in testing. Drawing from my extensive Porsche experience, I suggested some pretty radical further adjustments. Some worked, some did not.

When we were done with practice, we knew we had something special. We could tell by the way our Ajilon Porsche could eat up the competition in the corners, especially the fast ones.

Q: It was great getting to watch you work this past weekend. You and your teammate were the source of zero 'excitement' for us corner workers. I understand you'll be driving a Mini Cooper S this weekend in the Florida Region SCCA race. What do you do differently to get a smallish front-wheel drive car around the track at qualifying speed vs. a rather large rear-wheel drive car like the Porsche? Also, are there any real differences in how you treat each car for an endurance race?

Pobst: No corner worker 'excitement', Paul? You must not have been working turn two! I had a little moment with a very slow Acura that never saw me coming. We were VERY fortunate that the Porsche survived the contact.

I did race again at Homestead in a new Mini Cooper S the next weekend. This twelve-hour club race was great fun with good friends, and done with permission from Audi.

While the Mini has a spiritedly 160 HP, it is still much slower accelerating than our Ajilon Porsche. However, it has very good braking. I had to adjust to much later braking points.

It may surprise you to know, Paul, that I consider a less powerful car to be more difficult to drive at maximum speed. This is because power is a very useful control tool. Also, to run a quick lap time in a powerful car, the turns must be taken with a straighter exit, a later apex, to maximize acceleration. This is easier than the less powerful cars, which must maintain the highest possible cornering speed throughout the corner. This can be pretty hairy, partly because there is not as much power to influence the handling. You are quite committed.

Do I treat the cars differently? The Grand-Am Cup race was a 250-mile/three-hour race. This is essentially a sprint. The Porsche can handle flat-out driving for many hours, when driven properly. This means no over revs, especially by downshifting too soon, and shifting with respect for the synchros.

The club race in the Mini was a 12-hour. The car was driven to the track. It is a Grassroots Motorsports magazine project car pretty much right off the assembly line. It held together famously. Very impressive for a car assembled in England. We had to be sure the clutch was fully engaged before hitting the gas on each shift. It was a little sensitive.

The front-wheel drive Mini had a tendency to spin its inside front wheel exiting corners. We had to make an effort to straighten the wheel on the exit of the corners as we applied the power. It is a very fun car to drive. It did feel rather slow on the straights in comparison to the 370 HP Porsche. I could brake ridiculously late, however.

I really enjoyed the twelve-hour SCCA club race. Thanks to my co-drivers Catesby Jones and Rennie Bryant and his Redline shop and team for a great adventure. I like to race at every opportunity. Every race makes me better, smarter...and God knows I can use that!

Q: What are your plans for the 2003 racing season?

Pobst: I am a factory Audi driver in the Speed World Challenge GT series, in a Champion Audi RS6 twin-turbo V8. I'm also driving the Grand-Am Cup Series with Mike Levitas' Team Turbo Peformance Ajilon Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. I will be driving with Mind Over Motorsports in the Rolex GT race at Fontana, and I am pursuing rides in other non-conflicting races and series. I am under contract to Audi N.A., so these races are done only with their approval.

Q: Why did you wait so late in the last yellow to pit for tires? Did you take on two or all four?

Pobst: Our strategy was not planned. As in any endurance race, full-course cautions affected our options. On our last stop, there was quite a discussion among our team and drivers. It was finally decided to stop because we were not sure the fuel would make it. To save time, we changed only two tires. The fuel was only a splash, so there was not time for all four.

I wanted to stay out, because we were already in the lead, but I did not have the pertinent time/fuel information. After the stop, we did not quite catch the field before the green flew. We had some distance to make up, and the new tires accomplished that for us.

Q: How well did your crew perform during the Homestead race? Also, I've heard they wanted to do an autopsy on you following the race because there were rumors that you are not human and the team wanted to find out what was running through your veins.

Pobst: Team Turbo Performance was not only terrific in the pits, but very entertaining on the radio while I was driving. They asked several times if I was "carbon based", a Terminator movie reference to being human. I replied, we've got a superior setup, and thanks for making me look good.

Q: Randy, do you plan on running the entire GA Cup schedule? Also, any chance we may see you enter a few races in the GT class in the Rolex series?

Pobst: I'll run all the Grand-Am Cup races that do not conflict with my Audi drives. As mentioned earlier, I will drive the Rolex GT at Fontana, and am working on other such opportunities.

Q: How is it that you are so cool? Does it come naturally or did you learn it from Stuff magazine?

Pobst: Do I appear cool at times? I'll try to maintain that fantasy for my fans as long as possible. Teams like Turbo Performance and Champion Audi make me look like more than I may be.

Q: Hi RandytheRocket, congrats on your win at Homestead. Who do you think is going to be your biggest threat on the track in both Grand-Am and World Challenge this season? Hope all goes well for the season.

Pobst: My biggest threat in Grand-Am Cup? Several strong Porsche teams and the Powell Corvettes. I'd say, David Murry, David Lacy or maybe Doug Goad.

In World Challenge, the BMW factory team, especially Bill Auberlen, and my old team 3R Racing. The John Young Saleen Mustang is very scary, too.

Q: Front engine/all-wheel drive to rear engine/rear-wheel drive. Two very different platforms. What's different about how you have to drive them to win?

Pobst: I have always adapted quickly and easily when switching from front to rear drives. Front drives require great sensitivity to straightening the wheel when accelerating. The gas and steering must be opposites. More gas, less steering angle, and vice versa. They also like a much stronger initial steering input at turn-in. Front drives usually can use extremely high entry speeds, and trailing throttle and brake. It helps them turn (Trailing throttle is foot-off-the-gas cornering. Trailing brake is foot-lightly-on-the-brake corner entry).

The Porsche is not only rear drive, but also rear engine. While we work to minimize understeer in the front drivers, we usually are trying to minimize oversteer in the rear engine rear drive. The Porsche requires much less initial steering input; fingertips only, please.

Q: I do some club racing and would like to know how to adapt to new tracks and or cars in a matter of 5 or 10 laps like you do?

Pobst: New tracks were a big challenge early in my career. With more experience, I began to see similarities to other tracks that helped me learn faster. Plus, driving with a sharp eye focus looking ahead. This is how rally drivers do it on roads they've never seen before, especially when there are no cheater pace notes.

Look well ahead of the car, through the corner. As it tightens, be patient on the gas. When you see the inside radius beginning to open up, smoothly begin to add power.

Best of luck with your racing exploits, too, Ken!

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers David Murry , Bill Auberlen , Randy Pobst , Doug Goad , John Young , Catesby Jones