SCC: Virginia (VIR) II: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing returns to Grand-Am Cup at VIR.. (Orlando, FL. August 26, 2002) Getting a taste of the competition in the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series was just enough to keep Automatic Racing Owner/Driver Jep Thornton wanting to come back...

Automatic Racing returns to Grand-Am Cup at VIR..

(Orlando, FL. August 26, 2002) Getting a taste of the competition in the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series was just enough to keep Automatic Racing Owner/Driver Jep Thornton wanting to come back for more. His team will compete this weekend at the Virginia International Raceway, (VIR), in only its second event since it was formed. Even though they are a new operation, there certainly in no lack of experience, skill and determination among team members.

In what can almost be considered a Skip Barber revival, Thornton, a former Barber Racing School student and current Barber Masters Race Series driver, needed to look no farther than one of the school's instructors, David Russell, Jr., to be his co-driver and race team specialist. Once Russell was on board, the team started coming together. Former student Steve Secor was added for media relations/marketing, and fellow Orlando resident and long-time BMW racer/enthusiast Bob Turnage fit perfectly as Team Manager. Between Russell and Thornton, a list of BMW racing experts were added for the crew and Automatic Racing was on-track to finish the 2002 Grand-Am Cup season.

"I can't believe how well this whole operation just came together," said Thornton as he prepared for his second professional race this weekend."Dave and Bob really took the reins and made it all happen with their various contacts and I just enjoyed watching them go with it."

Before the team entered its first Grand-Am Cup event (Watkins Glen Raceway in June 2002), they took the car to a SCCA Regional"Citrus Enduro" Event at Moroso Raceway in Florida. The result was a resounding success with Thornton getting the experience he needed in the car with the on-track competition and Russell, a veteran of SCCA Pro and Club Events, The Motorola Cup and other street-stock racing, finishing out the day by running away with the competition in the team's newly acquired BMW M3 racecar, which they will use for the balance of this season in GAC.

"It is obvious that Jep is a quick learner and a flat-out adrenaline junkie," Russell said."He impressed all at Skip Barber and he continues to do so every time he jumps into the car. I know for sure that there will be a lot of work to do and a lot of learning for all of us, but I think that we have the right formula to be a successful team and a successful series."

As it turns out, the' learning curve' for Thornton happens to be at the historic Watkins Glen Raceway. In only his first-ever professional race, Thornton spun the team's BMW M3, made contact with the Styrofoam"soft walls" and the car sustained enough damage for the team to call it a day. Despite the unfortunate end to an otherwise promising weekend, Russell is excited that the team performed well together as a group and building that special teamwork principle is an important result. Of course, they look to build on the momentum they started while in competition this weekend.

Automatic Racing, along with sponsors Automatic Air, LLC (Orlando, FL), Land-Air Honda/Suzuki (Burlington, VT), Engine Recording Studios (Chicago, IL) and RaceMat Systems (New York), competes as part of the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series. You can learn more about the team and the series at www.grandamcup.com. All races are broadcast on The SPEED Channel (formerly Speedvision). For broadcast dates/times, please visit their site at www.speedtv.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Skip Barber , Jep Thornton , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing