Hines ready to challenge for T-2 Runoffs victory after 2-year sabbatical
8 September 2003: Robert Hines, the 1999 T-2 National Champion and 2000 T-2 Silver Medalist, is ready to contest the 2003 T-2 National Championship. Hines, who finished second in 2000, is returning to the Valvoline Runoffs after a two-year absence caused by a stint in the SPEED Channel World Challenge Series. The 2003 Valvoline Runoffs, the Olympics of amateur motorsports, will be held September 15-21, 2003 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Mansfield, Ohio.
Hines is looking forward to returning to the Runoffs as a competitor. "I enjoyed the two years I participated in the World Challenge and would like to return, but the cost of mounting a World Challenge effort just was not in the budget for this year. At the end of last year, we decided to build a new T-2 car and take a stab at the Runoffs," said Hines. During the winter, Hines and his Kumho Tires Hines Group Motorsports team put together the 2003 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28.
"This is the second time we've built a car and I can honestly say that it doesn't get easier. Though, with all the snow we had last winter, the car did give us something to do that was indoors," joked Hines. The car debuted at the Flower Power National held at Lime Rock Park and put Hines on the podium. "After the first session at Lime Rock, we knew that that we had a good car in the Kumho Tires Hines Group Motorsports Camaro, but we also knew that we still had a lot of work to do before it would be a great car," said Hines. Despite struggling with some teething pains during the season, Hines scored two victories, Beaver Run and Pocono, and a total of five podiums out of seven races in the competitive T-2 Divisional Championship.
According to Hines, it was a struggle during the early season races to keep the brakes from fading. "The Camaro is long on go, short on stop," an honest Hines admitted. "We contacted Larry Narcus at Carbotech engineering about the problems we were having. They worked with us, helped to solve our problems and I'm very happy with the brakes we have from Carbotech."
"When we built the car, I knew that most of the season would be the team growing into the new car," admitted Hines. "Handling, over-heating and braking were places where we knew it would be a learn-as-you-go process, but because of the generous support we get from Red Line Oil, I knew that engine failures were not going to be a problem."
This will be Hines' fourth appearance at the Runoffs and, while not picked as a pre-race favorite, his record at the Runoffs is excellent. Hines scored two podium finishes in three appearances and set the fastest race lap twice as well. Hines is honest, but optimistic about his chances, "This is probably the strongest T-2 field we've seen for the Runoffs, but I think the Kumho Tires Hines Group Motorsports Team is definitively a contender for the championship."