This Week in Ford Racing April 4, 2006 Grand American Rolex Series Colin Braun and Jorg Bergmeister are teammates driving the No.76 Krohn Racing/Ford Riley Daytona Prototype in the Grand American Rolex Series. The 17-year-old Braun is...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 4, 2006
Grand American Rolex Series
Colin Braun and Jorg Bergmeister are teammates driving the No.76 Krohn Racing/Ford Riley Daytona Prototype in the Grand American Rolex Series. The 17-year-old Braun is driving his first full year in the Daytona Prototype class and Bergmeister is leading the driver's points standings heading into this weekend's race in Long Beach. The drivers talked about racing on a new track and how their Ford-powered Riley handles compared to cars they have driven in the past.
Colin Braun - No.76 Krohn Racing / Ford Riley Daytona Prototype -- So, you live in Texas and the team is based in Georiga? "Yes, Tracy (Krohn) is based in Houston and I am based on Ovalo, Texas, which is about five hours northwest of Houston. The cars are actually worked on at the shop near the race track at Road Atlanta. We are in the old Panoz shop here at the track."
The area around Road Atlanta seems to be where a lot of road-racing teams and suppliers are locating. "Yes, quite a few sports car teams and manufacturers are in the Atlanta area. It's a good hub for sports car teams. It's not like Mooresville with all the NASCAR teams, but it's becoming a big headquarters for sports car teams."
WITH YOUR BACKGROUND IN KARTING AND QUARTER MIDGETS, WHAT PUSHED YOU TOWARDS ROAD RACING? "What really pushed me towards road racing is that my dad has been a race-car engineer for the past 25 years, so I was kind of born into the sport, you could say. I did the quarter midgets because I could do that when I turned five. Then I moved to the go-karts when I turned eight. I was running the go-karts to get the most driving experience that I could. After that we were looking for a big car series that I could run in when I was 14 and the series that we found was the Formula TR series on the west coast. That series allows 14- and 15-year-olds drivers to compete. It just happened to be a formula car, open-wheeled series at the time."
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO HAVE A FATHER WITH A RACING BACKGROUND TO HELP SET UP YOUR CARS. "It helped. My dad, when he first started to become involved in the engineering side of things, worked with Alan Kulwicki. Since then, he has done LeMans, Daytona and the Indy 500. He helped me out on all my karting setups, we had our own family team and we went to all the kart races. When we started running that Formula TR car our family ran and maintained that car, too. That experience has really helped me now. When the engineer says he is going to make a change, I picture what that change is going to do. I know how the cars are put together. For me it's an advantage. Some of the guys I am racing with have that advantage and some don't. For me, I think it's definitely and advantage."
AND YOUR FIRST SERIOUS ENDURANCE RACE WAS LAST YEAR IN THE ROLEX 24? "Yeah, I got a GT ride when I was 16 years old in one of Kevin Buckler's Porsches. I ran that at last year's Daytona 24. We ended up finishing seventh there with two other 16-year-old co-drivers. I gained a lot of experience last year running a lot of different races. I ran a few races at the end of the year in the Ford-powered Essex Racing Daytona Prototype."
HOW WAS THE FIRST TIME DRIVING A PROTOTYPE COMPARED TO THE PORSCHE? "It was a big jump, a big jump in power, obviously. Previous to that was the open-wheeled formula car, which are light, nimble and quick to respond. To get into the Porsche was a little hard but when I got out of the Porsche and got in the Prototype car it was a cross between the light Formula car and the Porsche being the big heavy car. It didn't roll around a whole lot like the Porsche it was kind of an in-between car, but I felt familiar with it and it is something that I really like to drive."
GOING INTO LONG BEACH WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON A STREET COURSE? "The only other time that I have ever run a street race was in Monaco. I ran a go-kart race there. I had a lot of fun there but I don't have a lot of street-course experience. I'm really looking forward to getting the chance to go run a street course. I've got a lot of friends that have driven there so I will definitely be talking to those guys. My other Krohn Racing teammate, Nic Johnsson, has driven there, so he has a little experience. I figure since not many drivers know the track it kind of levels the playing field. It should be a pretty fun race and I am looking foreword to it. With all the Ford power we have from the Roush-Yates engine guys, we should be good off the slow corners."
DO YOU USE ANY TYPE OF COMPUTER SIMULATION GAMES ON TRACKS YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN TO? "Yeah, I always try to find the games on the computer. It definitely helps you know which way to go at least but I have rarely gone on a track and said 'Oh, yeah, this is just like the video game.'"
IN HOMESTEAD YOU DID NOT GET TO RUN BUT YOU DID GET THE CHANCE TO COMMENTATE DURING THE SPEED BROADCAST. "Yeah, I got the chance to go up and be an expert commentator in the Speed booth. Definitely not something I want to change careers over, but it was fun to see how the whole production side of these race comes along is neat."
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO EVENTUALLY MOVE UP TO? "My goal since the time I was little was to become a professional race driver. And now that I am doing that I just want to do the best at whatever series that I am in. I'd love to be in a car every weekend. Right now, Krohn Racing is a really good home for me. Everyone here is working really hard. It's a new team and we started out this year with a couple of new guys and we are building this team from the ground up."
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO GRAND-AM DAYTONA PROTOTYPE FORMULA? SOME SAY IT LIMITS TECHNOLOGY. "If I was in one of those cars that was so far ahead than everyone else I would think that's the way it should be done. The Grand-Am formula is a pretty even playing field for everyone. You may not be quick on that weekend for a particular reason but throughout the whole season different engine packages all have their strong and weak points. You can go to a track that suits your car and you can do well and you can also go to a track where the car doesn't do so well. But everybody has that up and down performance depending on where you go. If everyone had the same exact car then that wouldn't be very fun, so I think the way they have it balanced out has worked really good so far."
Jorg Bergmeister - No.76 Krohn Racing/Ford Riley Daytona Prototype -- You are leading the driver points going into Long Beach. what are your thoughts on the NEW track? "I've never been there. I know some guys have been there so they will definitely have an advantage. It could be a difficult race for us. Normally I have no problems learning a new track. Hopefully, we will have a better race there than we had at Homestead."
DO YOU LIKE STREET COURSES OR DO YOU PREFER ROAD COURSES? "Usually I like quicker tracks, but street circuits are a lot of fun. I have done some street circuits in the ALMS. I ran Monaco twice in a Porsche Super Cup car and I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forword to the race in Long Beach."
HOW DOES DRIVING THE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE COMAPRE TO THE PORSCHE? Well, of course, the power from the Ford engine is quite different. It's a lot more torque that the Porsche, but the general driving is not much different. The grip level on the Porsche is a little bit higher. The cars are actually pretty equal in handling."
HOW IS THE GRAND AM SERIES COVERED IN EUROPE? There's definitely a lot of people talking about the series and the coverage is getting better. The coverage of the series should grow worldwide. Right now we have no permanent TV stations covering Daytona Prototype races, but they're talking about it."