Mid-Ohio: Series interview with Greg Pickett

IN HIS OWN WORDS: GREG PICKETT Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder making Mid-Ohio debut Trans-Am legend and Muscle Milk creator Greg Pickett returns to the American Le Mans Series this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course aboard the No. 6 Team...

Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder making Mid-Ohio debut

Trans-Am legend and Muscle Milk creator Greg Pickett returns to the American Le Mans Series this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course aboard the No. 6 Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder. The only driver in the history of the series to win a race in four decades of Trans-Am competition, Pickett returns to Le Mans prototypes with German co-driver, - former Trans-Am championship winner, Klaus Graf.

Pickett and Graf return to the ALMS after recording LMP1 podium performances aboard a Lola in 2007 and competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2008. The pair finished yesterday's opening test session second fastest aboard the Porsche in the LMP2 class.

Q. You are getting ready for your first ALMS race of the season... what are your objectives?

A: I don't really look at the times; that's not what is important to me. I think Klaus did well in our test session on Thursday. We ended up second, which was a bit of a surprise to all of us. We are kind of discounting that. The important thing is that we've made progress. I picked up a couple of seconds more from our first day of testing, which was on Tuesday. I am happy with the progress and catching up with the car a little bit. That's what I'm looking for at this point. I haven't set a bar. We just want to be heading in the right direction and that's what we're doing.

Q: How is the Porsche RS Spyder to drive?

A: The car does everything really well. It's just so well-mannered. It just asks you to just "keep driving me faster. I'll go around this corner quicker and I'll do this better and you can take me in deeper." So I'm getting all these messages from the car on a consistent basis. It's great to drive.

Q: Talk to us about your team.

A: I have a team composed of what I like to think as All-Stars. They have all been either car chiefs, crew chiefs or even team manager. The guys have all independently run cars on their own. Our goal is to blend those talents together with everybody having their distinctive jobs and so far I'm really pleased with how it's coming along.

The team is very well organized. We had no big commotion in the pits during testing. A team that hasn't raced in a while just gets a little bit out of sorts. Race teams like to race, they do that the best. So the guys did a great job, nothing went wrong, nothing was falling off the car. Everything is very well prepared. We got in all the laps that we intended to do. We're very happy about that.

Q: What made you come back to the ALMS with the Porsche RS Spyder?

A: I really did enjoy my prototype racing in '07 and when we took a Lola to Le Mans last year. They are really spectacular cars to drive, really challenging. It wasn't something that we had to do but as our businesses continue to prosper and continue to grow, it actually gave us the financial opportunity to consider it again.

When we were thinking about it in the last part of '08, with all the scariness the economy was going through we put that off for a while. We said "Let's see how the first quarter goes and how it comes around next year." By April or May, I got talking with Dyson about purchasing their RS Spyder. They packaged this in a way that we thought was by far and away the best opportunity for us. I had raced against the Porsches and of course it has a wonderful reputation.

It was important that I invest in a car, and this is a very expensive car, that like all Porsches has ongoing intrinsic value. A lot of used race cars are just used race cars. And that's not the case with Porsche they have such a great pedigree and such great legacy that it could be a pretty good investment.

Additionally I was able to get a ton of spares. It was the totality of the package that made it enticing, plus the timing got better with the ongoing success of our brand Muscle Milk. Finally, I also just wanted to do it a little bit more. I'm not going do a lot more, just a little bit.

Q: Why have you chosen to promote the Muscle Milk brand with your race team?

A: We have a lot of stick-and-ball players involved with our brand. That was our legacy, it's where this product came from, where this brand got its start. Now with the help from PBG (Pepsi Bottling Group), who took our product to the market place last year, we've just expanded the product.

The product really is for anybody who enjoys an active lifestyle, and people with active lifestyles come and watch races. They enjoy motorsports. Our brand is cool, exciting and for fast pace people who live fast paced lives. There's lots of correlation between the excitement and enthusiasm for motorsports and the excitement and enthusiasm we feel for our brand. It's also a great place to get national exposure for our brand, which in return makes it a great investment.

Q: How did the relationship with Klaus Graf come about and how has it evolved?

A: I first got to know Klaus when he was one of my competitors in the Trans- Am series. Klaus and I had some really good races. I watched him on the track and I knew he was a very talented race car driver.

Klaus is honestly a little bit under appreciated. He is really fast. I like his attitude; he is smart, careful and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. So I started watching him as a competitor and because I knew that he has a lot of experience in prototype cars with his years at Panoz, it was natural to contact him when I knew I was doing prototypes.

Then our relationship grew from there. He started asking questions about the products and turns out now he's our VP of sales in Europe, which we started last year. He's very enthusiastic about the brand, he is honest, straight forward, a real family guy. He's a really, really solid guy that also happens to be extremely fast in a race car, which is a perfect combination for me.

Q: How do you feel about being back in the American Le Mans Series?

A: We're really happy to be back in the ALMS. Our product is a premium price product. Protein is not inexpensive and it fits perfectly with the demographic that watches our races.

They are wonderful people to do business with and it is also a family environment, which is important to our brand. That's why we are here and finally, I just feel personally really blessed that my family continues to be enthusiastic about me doing this, the people in the company are happy about me doing it, I can still do it at a relatively good level and I enjoy it so much.

It's just win, win, win, win, all the way around and that's what makes really successful things in life. And that's why we're here.

-credit: alms

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Klaus Graf , Greg Pickett