SCC: Rum Bum Racing Homestead preview

Event: Homestead

Rum Bum Racing Ready to Settle a Score at Homestead

After making a dream debut in GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition with a win at Daytona International Speedway last year, Rum Bum Racing couldn't have been more excited to return to Gatorade Victory Lane at Rum Bum Racing's home track as the series staged round two of the 2010 championship at Homestead Miami Speedway. But a promising day turned into a shocking one as a series of unexpected events conspired to knock the team from contention. However, that tough finish has the team even more motivated to succeed this time around.

Homestead, with it's tricky mixed oval and road course configuration, is a fine place to call home for Rum Bum Racing. The team commutes to all the races from Florida, with longtime Floridian racing legend Joe Varde calling the shots from the pit box. The team was founded by longtime Miami-area resident Luis Bacardi, giving the team a comprehensive connection to the area that makes winning at home a top priority.

Alas, it was not to be last year. Gian Bacardi opened the race with confidence before turning the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3 to co-driver Matt Plumb, who was powering to the lead with some rough and tumble racing that is typical GRAND-AM competition. Unfortunately, that close contact caused the hood pins on the BMW to break, sending the hood flying into Plumbs windshield as he navigated at top speed in pursuit of another checkered flag.

"I just couldn't believe it--it was certainly a frightening moment for me inside the car," said Plumb, who had to try to make it back to the pits without the benefit of sight. "But I had Nick (Longhi, team spotter and now co-driver) on the radio, talking me back in to the pit lane. Unfortunately, we made it all the way back to the pits only to make contact with the wall and that put us out for the day. We were just sick to miss the chance to win at home for Luis."

Fortunately, the team would still get back to victory lane in 2010. After Gian Bacardi decided to return to school full-time, a mid-season change to the driver line up saw Longhi move from spotter to co-driver for Rum Bum Racing. And to excellent effect, as the duo combined for a strong close to the 2010 season with two wins and a runner-up result. That strong finish to the year, and with Longhi, Plumb, and Varde all set to return in 2011, the shot at a home win is very much a possibility for the team.

"It'd be huge for us to win at Homestead," said Plumb. "We want to do as well as we can everywhere we go, of course, but that track would be a very special place to win, especially for Mr. Bacardi. As a team owner he has been instrumental in guiding our success, he has been the motivating force behind putting together a truly professional organization. They are such a part of the community and everyone loves a winner so it'd be a perfect result for us."

And while a Homestead victory ranks high on the to-do list back at the shop, it's part of a bigger goal for the organization--a championship.

"We definitely want to win--that's the best way possible to gain an advantage over the course of the season," said Plumb. "We want to build on what we started last year, and we've got some amazing support from Luis Bacardi and we have plans for years to come. A win at Homestead could be the perfect thing to kick start our championship."

That championship effort got off to an ideal start for Rum Bum Racing in the opening round as the team returned to the Daytona International Speedway victory lane to open up the season just as it had the year before.

@%-source: rum bum racing

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Series GRANDAM
Tags bmw, continental, sports car