Team Spotlight on Marcus Motorsports
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 26, 2003) -- Marcus Motorsports made its Rolex Series debut in 2002, running a limited six-race schedule. After earning a podium finish at the 2002 Bully Hill Vineyards, Marcus Motorsports entered 2003 with high expectations. In only the second race of the season, the #69 BMW M3 finished third in class at the Nextel Grand Prix of Miami. That third-place finish put the #69 BMW on top of the GT team owner point standings, while its drivers, Hugh Plumb and Brian Cunningham, are tied for second in GT driver points.
Series - Rolex Sports Car Series
Class - GT
Car - #69 BMW M3 (Nicknamed Sylvia)
Sponsors - Market Place Holdings, Mobil 1, In Style Limousine, BBS Wheels,
Communications Constructions Group
Team Owner - Stephen and Marjorie Marcus
Garage Location - Richmond, Va.
Website - www.marcusmotorsports.com
Drivers - Brian Cunningham, Hugh Plumb
Crew Chief and Engineer - Todd Ketchum, Curt Jung
2003 - 3rd place in GT at Nextel Grand Prix of Miami
2002 - 3rd place in GT at Bully Hill Vineyard 250
IN THE WORDS OF STEPHEN MARCUS...
Q: When did you become involved in racing?
I began back in the early to mid '80s autocrossing and doing track events. I then moved up to instructing and then into racing. After that I decided to get into team ownership. Even now I am still involved in instructing for driver schools.
Q: How was Marcus Motorsports created?
Marcus Motorsports is a partnership between my wife Marjorie and I. We decided to do it as a business. That's the way we pursue our racing. We started at an amateur level. Recently we were racing in the Factory Five Challenge Series, and we decided that if we were going pro, we needed to do it as a business. We run that business like we run our limousine business. You've got to watch what goes in and what goes out. It's an addiction and a passion that we enjoy together.
Q: Why did you choose to run a BMW M3?
I wanted to race something other than a Porsche around the track. Also, I have a very good relationship with Tom Milner and PTG (Prototype Technology Group). They do a lot of work for us and really go the extra mile to help us out. They've basically tried to bring an older car back to life and make us competitive, which they've essentially done. It's nice having a BMW, and BMWNA (BMW North America) supports us as well with a generous contingency awards program. They're very excited to see the car run in the series.
Q: How were Brian Cunningham and Hugh Plumb selected as Marcus' lead drivers?
I met Brian last year when he was at the Daytona Finale. We got together, he gave me an extensive resume and we spoke a little bit. He was looking for a ride for this year and I was looking for a driver with experience and a dedication to grow with a new and up-and-coming team. He is an ex-factory driver for BMW with PTG and ran very successfully in many areas during his career.
Hugh called me one day out of the blue to tell me that he was also looking for a seat. I have been very impressed with Hugh over the years. He is one of those rare naturally talented race car drivers. We were fortunate to put both of these guys together this season.
Q: What do you think about competition in the Rolex Series GT class?
It's terrific! I'm looking forward to Phoenix, and I think there are going to be a lot more GT cars showing up there. So, we're looking for some tough competition. Grand American has been helpful to us in making our car competitive. Even though it is an older car, being able to run up front with the Porsches and Ferraris is a lot of fun. Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, and the Marcos will probably have a good battle this year. I think it's going to be great. It's good competition and being able to run somewhat with the Daytona Prototypes right now and the GTS cars has made it more fun. The drivers like it even better because they don't have to spend so much time looking in the mirrors.
Q: What are your goals for the remainder of the 2003 season?
I would like to solidify our team and become a front-runner at every event. We're also going to try to take a team championship and a driver championship. We are also going to have another hotshot driver joining us this year on a limited number of races, so we're looking forward to that as well.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a team owner?
Not having to drive. I enjoy making sure everybody does their job. I enjoy making sure that the drivers are taken care of. Whatever they need, we try to make it happen. Also taking care of the crew is very important. There are a lot of logistics, planning, payments, things such as that. It keeps me busy. I believe that it's a good place for me to be instead of being behind the wheel. I'm not as talented as Brian or Hugh. It's a learning experience for me at every event and I enjoy it. Also, having a crew like we do makes it pretty pleasant.
Q: As an owner, what advice do you give to your drivers and crew before a race?
I've gone through the Tom Miler school of pre-race meetings. We do have a team meeting before the event begins. Between Hugh and Brian, who we actually call Barney (Rubble), we talk very frequently on the telephone. We also converse by email regularly. It's a very open team type of relationship. I ask them for their advice and they come to me with problems, concerns, what they would like done, and what they want me to do. It's not like you have a pecking order where I'm at the top and this is how it's done. I go to the crew and drivers for their feedback. It works really, really well, and their suggestions are definitely looked at and listened to.
Q: What is your most memorable racing moment?
Every event to me is such a learning experience and extreme excitement. If I have to pick out one event I think it would probably be our first podium. We finished third at Watkins Glen last year. It was really exciting. We had some tough problems over that weekend. We had already hit the guardrail one time supposedly because of brake problems. We had a wheel come off going through the up-hill esses. Cory Friedman was driving at the time and he had the video camera on in the car so we got to watch it. After seeing Cory make that save and keep the car off of the Armco, the weekend could only get better. This year's Daytona was the first Daytona we've run. That was something else, also.
Q: What hobbies do you have outside of racing?
Is there anything besides racing? My wife and I live on a 150-acre tobacco farm. Last year we finished doing the renovation on the 125-year-old farmhouse. Hanging out at the farm with my Siberian Huskies is my relaxation. We have a large fresh water pond stocked with bass where my friends come over to try their luck. I enjoy sitting in the boat and having a golden beverage. I still do some instructing when I have the time. My wife and I work hard at our business otherwise so that keeps up hopping pretty good.
Q: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
As far as racing goes, Tom Milner is definitely the biggest influence. He really steers me in the right direction in terms of racing. Tom always treats me as his best customer, friend and a member of the PTG family. I truly listen to a lot of the people in my life, so it is hard for me to name just one. Most men are influenced by their father. I lost mine to Leukemia at a young age, so I can't go to him like a lot of guys have. My family has always been there when I need then, though.
Q: What is your favorite racetrack?
My favorite track to drive is Summit Point in West Virginia. Virginia International Raceway is also tops on my list. The track is challenging and the setting is just beautiful. I am looking forward to making it to Canada this year. I hear that Mont-Tremblant is awesome.
Q: Do you prefer the long endurance races or short sprint races?
It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all, except that I don't have to pace as much at a sprint race. If you ever see me in the pits, I'm always pacing back and forth when not doing the fueling. I think our car needs more of a tighter track than the long sweeping banks like Daytona or California. I think we're at a disadvantage because the BMW is not as aerodynamic as the Ferrari or the Porsche. The tracks I think you'll see us strong at are probably Mid-Ohio and Phoenix. We should also have a good run at Watkins Glen and VIR. We'll just have to see at the others.
Q: What kind of advice would you give to someone looking to start a new team?
Sponsorship-find a lot of money first. It is very easy to spend it quickly. Develop a good group of professional people. I'm talking as far as putting together a good crew. Anybody can go out and write a check for a car, but you want to develop the backbone of the team with your crew. If you show a good crew, if you have good equipment and run the team as professionally as possible, the drivers will come. And there are a lot of good drivers out there.
Q: Is their anything you would like to say to Marcus Motorsports fans?
We have our new sponsor to bring on starting in Phoenix. The name of the company is Market Place Holdings. Market Place Holdings is the largest minority-owned grocery store chain in the country. They will also bring along with them associate sponsors in the food and beverage distribution and manufacturing business. It's going be tremendous. I think you're going to find with the minority backing were going to introduce new fans to sports car racing. We're really looking forward to that.
We also have a driver who's going to be joining us. His name is Gareth Rees. He is a winner of the prestigious McLaren Young Autosport driver of the year award, and a McLaren F1 test driver for three years. He's a very talented driver with tons of racing experience.
We're doing a few changes to the car at this time. There will be a new paint scheme at Phoenix. We are going to move the exhaust to a side exit to keep the car cool and make gear changes easier. We hope to eliminate some of this vapor lock problem as well. Sylvia might even belch a few flames out of the side, like everybody loves to see. PTG is going to give us a competitive package to run for the rest of the year, and we're going to make a run for the money.
Q: You participate on the www.grandamerican.com message board a lot.
I enjoy the message board. I think that if you want to become part of the racing group, whether you're competing or just a fan, staying involved and keeping everyone aware of what's happening is fun. We've got our front page up on our website and it's not completed yet, so the best way to keep the fans up to date is on the board. I've had very few problems with anybody. And I tell you, it's almost like the 12th man on the football field. I think they've helped me with Grand American at the track. StillMattQ gave me the idea of sponsors back last year. Who says I can't get one like a Dyson Team?
The Rolex Sports Car Series' next race will be the Phoenix 250 on May 1-3 at Phoenix International Raceway. Tickets are currently on sale for the event by calling (602)252-2227 or go online at www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com. For more information on the Rolex Sports Car Series go online at www.grandamerican.com.