Hearn Motorsports Showing Strong Despite Steep Learning Curve PORTLAND, Ore., July 22, 2004 -- Hearn Motorsports is a rookie team, with a rookie driver and a rookie car owner. So, how is it that a new team can have veterans of the Star Mazda...
Hearn Motorsports Showing Strong Despite Steep Learning Curve
PORTLAND, Ore., July 22, 2004 -- Hearn Motorsports is a rookie team, with a rookie driver and a rookie car owner. So, how is it that a new team can have veterans of the Star Mazda North American Championship Tour watching over their shoulder for the No. 70 Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber Mazda? In a series where the learning curve is as steep as Mount Hood, Hearn Motorsports' initial success is impressive and the reasons for that success vary throughout the paddock. Perhaps it is the driving experience of owner and team manager Richie Hearn that is influencing the success? Hearn's credit sheet includes five Indianapolis 500 starts, an IndyCar Series win and pole position as well as a Toyota Atlantic title--Or, perhaps it is the trophy case of 2003 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National title-holder and Hearn driver Raphael Matos, of Belo Horizonte, Brazil? Most likely, it is the quick way the team has meshed into a professional operation that has the attention of the competition.
As the Las Vegas-based team enters the Grand Prix of Portland here at Portland International Raceway (PIR)-- only its fourth Star Mazda race-- it has become evident that the team will be a winner, possibly several times over, before the season comes to a conclusion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 16. Saturday's 45-minute race returns owner Hearn to one of his old haunts from his days racing in CART but marks the first time for the young Brazilian to the "Rose City" facility. Matos and the team have proven quick studies in Star Mazda competition having qualified in the top-five at each of the first three races. The white Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber entry has earned two top-tens (fifth at Mid-Ohio and eighth most recently at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma) and only one DNF having finished 22nd at Lime Rock after an incident as Matos was securely within the top-five.
The Grand Prix of Portland Star Mazda race can be seen on SPEED, at noon, August 22.
Richie Hearn, team owner/manager: "We haven't been able to test anywhere like Portland. So we just want to have the Showtime/ Samsung car ready. That is the one thing about the Star Mazda Series, there really isn't a lot of trick stuff you can do. Honestly, I have never really run well here. It's one of the few courses I just never really had a lot of success on. It's a very flat track. There isn't a lot to it. I know Raphael will pick it up real fast. I can contribute a little bit but it's not really that hard of a track to figure out. My greatest strength is going out during the sessions and watching him while he is out there and helping him from there."
Raphael Matos, driver: "I think we are going to be stronger than at Infineon. We were very strong there; we had a P1 and a P2 there in the practices right before the qualifying. Unfortunately we had some problems in the qualifying. Then we had some tire issues in the race. But we are getting stronger every race and I am looking forward to Portland. I have never been to Portland before. I am just trying to learn as much as possible watching videos and in-car cameras. I think it is a pretty flat track. I think two of the hardest tracks we'll have are Mid-Ohio and Sonoma. I think Portland is going to be, not easier, but it is easier to figure out as a track."
For more on Hearn Motorsports and its 2004 Pro Formula Mazda Series' effort please visit www.richiehearn.com. To learn about Raphael Matos, visit his bilingual site at www.rafamatos.com. For information on the Star Mazda Series, please visit www.starmazda.com.