VOICES OF DYSON RACING: THE DRIVERS In a business that is known for comings and goings, Dyson Racing is a picture of consistency and stability. Nowhere in the American Le Mans Series paddock - or any paddock for that matter - will you find a...
VOICES OF DYSON RACING: THE DRIVERS
In a business that is known for comings and goings, Dyson Racing is a picture of consistency and stability. Nowhere in the American Le Mans Series paddock - or any paddock for that matter - will you find a group that has been together as long as the Dyson team, which celebrates its 25th anniversary of professional racing this weekend at Lime Rock Park. It's an aspect of the team that isn't lost on the group of Dyson Racing drivers.
"I've been involved with it with my dad my whole life, so we've been lucky enough to be in racing and particularly here at IMSA. To grow up in the sport and really have him hand-off a lot of the responsibilities for the team and give some decision-making, it's been a real honor and a privilege.
"I think we have a great legacy in the U.S. and certainly worldwide. I think the success we've had over the years is great. We've always lived by the mantra 'You're only as good as your last race' and that keeps you from looking backward and keeps you focused on the here and now and the future.
"One of my earliest memories of our participation in IMSA was when we went out to Lime Rock with the Porsche 962 for the first weekend and we won. It really just surprised everyone. It was such a great win; we were such a small crew back then and to come out with a family team and run against the best in the business, we realized that we could stick around for awhile. Another wonderful memory was Watkins Glen in 1987 when we won the Camel Continental. I was up there with my grandfather, my dad and me, and we just had the best weekend right around the Fourth of July. And we went out and won against some really stout opposition. So there have been a lot of great memories growing up and to be able to be here now, having come full-circle, is quite something."
"I didn't think I would make it five years in racing actually. Growing up at Lime Rock pretty much, seeing Dyson Racing for so many years, watching them in the 962 and always seeing what an awesome organization they were, it is very special. I was there the first year they won at Sebring, and it is very gratifying to be able to be a part of the team and to be a part of that history.
"As with anything, of course, you're in the weekend, you're stressed out, you're fighting for every tenth of a second, you don't really appreciate what you have, but every now and then you just kind of look around a little bit and someone at an autograph session will bring a picture of one of Rob's old cars, and it kind of sinks in a little bit that you've really got a great job, a great team and you are very lucky.
"I have to say the sentimental favorite is probably the old Riley & Scott, just because it did everything right. There wasn't really a whole lot of advancements about it, it was an old V8 that the brothers managed to get ridiculous amounts of horsepower out of and it just felt right. There was no warm-up; you just put it on like an old shoe. It was really probably the sentimental favorite. Then on top of that you have to say the Porsche that we're driving now is such an amazing quality piece of equipment that we have so few problems with it, and the performance that we get out of it is really astounding.
"A very good moment would be winning at Sears Point in the MG in 2003. It was the first time we were able to get that car in the victory circle. One that wasn't really about me was when Elliot Forbes-Robinson won the championship in 1999. That was really cool to see him and the team take the championship against the odds. I don't even remember the year anymore, but the last time we won at Mosport was a great one. Mid-Ohio, I think it was 2005, we had a great race against the Zytek. Going back and forth, we had like five prototypes battling at it. When you think about it, there have been a lot of good times here."
"Well, it's great, obviously driving for Dyson. He has had a lot of memories, lots of great drivers driving for this team - notably James Weaver, who had been with the team for 20 years, Andy Wallace, and of course Butch as well. So it is great to be part of that history. I think they are probably the most successful American sports car team, and to be associated with them is a great feeling.
"The first time I ever met Rob Dyson was a great moment. I'd known about Rob and his racing and his team, and when I came over from Europe I met Rob at Sebring. He's just such a character, a great guy; he's got such a passion for racing. He's been a great mentor and a great adviser throughout the years.
"He always tells me not to wad it up, which means not to crash the car. I think that's pretty good advice. He's very supportive, he gives us all the tools we need. He's been there and done it in his own driving career. He's won quite a few of the major races; he's got a lot of experience to pass on to us. We never stop learning. Anybody within sports cars knows Rob Dyson and he's a real joy to be around.
"My first race with Dyson was in 2005 in Sebring, and I actually drove with Chris there and we had a blast. We had a great time; I thoroughly enjoyed driving for the team. It's got this incredible family atmosphere. Most of the team has been together for at least 10 years and some of the guys have been here probably since the start of Dyson, so there's this incredible chemistry. When you join the team there's a real camaraderie between the guys that's quite rare. Racing teams can be a little cold or a slightly hostile type of environment at first. Here they are very welcoming, and we continued at Petit Le Mans in 2005 and again I really enjoyed the experience. I was very excited to be asked to race for them in 2006 and here I am, still here, so I must be doing something right and I thoroughly enjoy it.
"They want to win and are so passionate about the racing. Rob is so passionate about the sport. It's not his core business but I think if it could be all his focus would go into the team. They really just give you everything you need. Most of all they give you the support out of the car, and they know that you're giving 110 percent."
"I think the biggest impact is just the friendly welcome I've received. You certainly feel part of the family once you're on board. There is a winning spirit from the top of the team with Rob and Chris to the guy who goes and gets the tires and cleans the car. No one is made to feel any more or less important than anyone else. You don't have the success without building a great team and being great people at their core.
"You would almost think they are the factory team with the resources that are available to you. We certainly don't have the resources of the factory teams but you wouldn't know by the way Dyson presents themselves. I don't think there's a better independent team in the world and certainly not one that's been going as long.
"There's not a lot of drivers to ask really about being with Dyson because drivers come here and they don't leave. So there's not a lot of turnover of drivers. When I first came to the States, one of my first races was the 24 Hours of Daytona, and Rob came over and introduced himself to me. Funnily enough I found his business card that he gave me then and it was really funny; it made me smile. He was so friendly and so welcoming to me and he's always been there for advice, and the whole team has been like that. I knew a lot of the guys before I came on board and I'm just having a ball being with them. It's a fun place to be but it's also very competitive; the will to win is very strong and I think that's very important."
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is race is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 12 at Lime Rock Park. SPEED will televise the race from noon to 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 13. XM Satellite Radio will air the event live on XM Sports Nation Channel 144. Additional live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring also will be available at americanlemans.com.