Despite Age Differences, Drivers Team Up And Share Common Goals For Sunday's Grand-Am Cup Season Finale SENECA, S.C., Oct.4 -- Dr. Susan Addison of Seneca, S.C., who at 60 is the oldest woman currently competing in professional motorsports, ...
Despite Age Differences, Drivers Team Up And Share Common Goals For Sunday's Grand-Am Cup Season Finale
SENECA, S.C., Oct.4 -- Dr. Susan Addison of Seneca, S.C., who at 60 is the oldest woman currently competing in professional motorsports, and 22-year-old Andy Brumbaugh of Columbia, S.C. may be at opposite ends of the age spectrum for endurance sports car drivers, but they have more in common than one might think.
Addison and Brumbaugh will join their car owner, Rob Whitener III of Statesville, N.C., in a ROAR Racing Mazda RX-8, No.62, for Sunday's Grand-Am Cup Street Tuner (ST) season finale at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Va.
The Mazda's cockpit isn't the only thing that Addison and Brumbaugh share. Despite their 38-year age gap and their gender differences, they both think they can work together with Whitener and his crew to put together a good finish in Sunday's six-hour race on VIR's demanding 3.27-mile road course. Their entry will be one of 35 in the race, which begins at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
Both drivers want to go as fast as possible and as far as possible as they can in the sport. Addison wanted badly to be a race car driver as a youth but had to put those plans on hold for years due to a serious non-racing injury and career Drivers Team Up/Page 2 of 4
obligations. Now it's finally her turn to follow her dream of racing professionally, and the therapist at Seneca's Grace Counseling Center is going at it with gusto.
Addison has never lacked enthusiasm. Although she was graduated from Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, Texas in 1964, 20 years before Brumbaugh was born, she is still full of the zest for life she learned at an early age from her elders, including her mother, who at 88 still lives in San Antonio. That philosophy has spilled over to a business, Performance Coaching, which she advertises on the sides of her race car. She and her husband, Ray, both help clients "find the zone" as they tackle whatever they want to achieve.
While Addison is trying to make up for lost time in racing, Brumbaugh is trying to make every opportunity count as quickly as possible. After starting his career at the age of 8 and having success in karting and formula car racing, he's pursuing his dream of becoming a factory-backed endurance sports car driver. And as far as Brumbaugh is concerned, that job can't come fast enough.
Although Addison and Brumbaugh are going after rides from different angles, they've both learned that unfortunately funding is as important in this sport as talent; the competition for good rides is intense; and what happens behind the scenes off the racetrack influences race results just as much, if not more, as what happens on the track.
Finding the best team to spend her racing money with is a challenge Addison calls "the Grand-Am shuffle," but it permeates every series and every division.
For the most part, team owners aren't sympathetic. They summarize the situation with a simple two-liner: "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?"
Both Addison and Brumbaugh want to go very fast.
This will only be Addison's fourth Grand-Am Cup race of the year. She raced more often other years as she honed her skills in the Skip Barber Racing Series, but Grand-Am Cup is where she wants to be. She's spending every dollar as wisely as possible to go as far as she can.
Her age and gender aren't the problem; Brumbaugh has faced similar challenges. After running some Grand-Am Cup events in the past with Team Lexus, Brumbaugh thought he'd be driving in all the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) events this year with Chuck Goldsborough, Townsend Bell and Jean- Drivers Team Up/Page 3 of 4
Francois Dumoulin as part of a new ALMS program for Lexus. The program has yet to run its first ALMS this year, however, so for 2006 Brumbaugh has been serving as a driver coach for other drivers and doing the occasional race here and there himself. In May he also was graduated from the University of South Carolina with a double major in business management and real estate and a minor in advertising and public relations, but his goal remains to be a factory- backed, professional endurance sports car driver.
Addison and Brumbaugh were co-drivers at an earlier Grand-Am Cup event this spring at VIR, running as high as sixth in the rain before a fuel-sensor problem forced their car out with six laps to go.
They both want better results on Sunday.
"I'm excited about the race; I know ROAR has put in a lot of work this season on the cars to get them more competitive," Brumbaugh said. "It will be good to race with Susan again after racing with her at VIR earlier this year; hopefully we can have a good result and finish off the year on a good note."
Addison is excited too. There were an unusual amount of caution-flag laps in the earlier race at VIR due to rain, but she doesn't expect a lot of yellows on Sunday.
"A lot of the cautions in April were caused by the GS [Grand Sport] cars; I think only one was caused by a ST car," she pointed out. "They're splitting the event into two separate six-hour races for both classes this weekend, which I think will help keep the yellows down. It'll be just a lot of hard racing, provided it doesn't rain. With the field split there will be just over 30 cars in our race, which is one of the smallest fields we've had this year. The track is over 3 miles long, so I think we'll get spread out and that should keep the yellows down."
Addison supports the series' decision to split the event into two six-hour races for each class rather than running one 12-hour event with both classes together. "I think it's going to give everybody a better opportunity to shine," she said. "In Turns Four, Five and Six the GS cars tend to catch the ST cars, and those are the best places on the track to pass. So not having the GS cars in our race should help, although I think the start of the race and the restarts will be very exciting.
"We ran by ourselves at Phoenix, and things went well there," she pointed out. "VIR is a really fast track and there's going to be a lot of excitement as we run Drivers Team Up/Page 4 of 4
flat-out by ourselves. Sometimes the ST teams get lost in the shuffle, so with lots of open running and good, fast corners, I think it's going to be a lot of fun for us."
Finishing is always the first goal of endurance sports car racers. "Mazdas have been successful long-term endurance cars; they're known for doing well in long races," she pointed out. "I expect the BMWs and the Mazdas to hold up well, but I don't know about the other cars in the field.
"I think the most challenging thing will be minimizing the time lost on driver changes and during pit stops," she added. "The most technically advanced aspect will be the engine mapping and fuel mileage. Those things and the driver changes will be challenges for everybody.
"I'm hoping that Andy is a good race tactician," she added. "Race strategy will be important too, and I'm leaving that all up to him, as is Rob."
It's apparent that both of the older drivers on this team are smart enough to know that sometimes it's important to listen to the younger ones.
And although Addison is old enough to be Brumbaugh's mother, and young male drivers don't usually like to take suggestions about driving from older women, that
isn't likely to be a problem for Addison and Brumbaugh this weekend.
They are, after all, both racers with common goals.
Qualifications to set the starting grid will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Live timing and scoring of Sunday afternoon's race, as well as the results, will be available on the Internet at grandamerican.com.
-credit: restart communications