VIR: CyberSpeed Racing preview

Rolex Series Welcomes CyberSpeed Racing To Daytona Prototype Ranks; Ave, Cummins to Race at VIR This Weekend MAIDEN, N.C., April 19 - Fans at the Rolex Series race at VIRginia International Raceway last October couldn't have known it at the ...

Rolex Series Welcomes CyberSpeed Racing To Daytona Prototype Ranks;

Ave, Cummins to Race at VIR This Weekend

MAIDEN, N.C., April 19 - Fans at the Rolex Series race at VIRginia International Raceway last October couldn't have known it at the time, but one of the Daytona Prototype entries that day was the forerunner of the newest team to join the class's ranks.

Skip Cummins of Houston and Tony Ave of Mooresville, N.C. drove Margraft Racing's Riley Pontiac in the VIR 400 last year. Since then they've formed their own team, CyberSpeed Racing, which debuted at the Rolex Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. on March 25.

Sunday's race at VIR will be CyberSpeed Racing's second Rolex Series event.

Cummins is the team owner and a driver, while Ave is the team's managing director and lead driver. The new team campaigns a yellow and blue Riley Pontiac, No. 97. It is based in Maiden, N.C., near Charlotte. CRD preps the team's Pontiac engines. The car's paint job features "hot rod" livery by ESBG Design that was a big hit with the photographers at Homestead.

Cummins and Ave qualified 21st for the race last year at VIR and finished 17th overall and 13th in the Daytona Prototype class. They qualified 24th at Homestead with their own car last month and finished 15th both overall and in DP. "For a brand-new team in our first race, we're all very pleased," Ave said afterwards.

The team didn't compete in the race at Long Beach, Calif. on April 8 due to budget considerations but its members are raring to go here at VIR this weekend.

Cummins and Ave can't wait, since they both love VIR.

"It's fun, it's fast and it's world class," Cummins quipped. "That's their motto, and it's true. The track is awesome. It's very fast and it's a pure road-racing track.

"It's also my home track in the sense that I have more laps at VIR than anywhere else," he added. "I've always been quick there. We tested there recently, and we're looking forward to a good finish at VIR."

Ave, a veteran of NASCAR, ARCA, SCCA, USAC, IRL and even snowmobile competition, gives VIR high praise too.

"My favorite section of road-course racing in this country is the esses at VIR," said Ave, who is Riley Technologies' lead test driver for its Daytona Prototype program and also serves as a test driver for Hoosier Tires. "It's one of my favorite tracks to drive anywhere."

Besides competing in last year's Rolex Series race at VIR, Ave noted that he finished second in a Trans-Am race at VIR in 2002. He definitely knows his way around the 3.27-mile road course, and he'll be doing his best to set up the car with the help of chief mechanic Justin Halliday and other crew members; offer Cummins some tips; and perform as well as he can himself during his stint in Sunday's 250-mile/77-lap race.

Although Ave is a professional racer, Cummins is a businessman first and a racer second. He's not content to be the best of the non-pro drivers though. "I know I'm not destined for the Indy 500 as a driver, but I have a lot of SCCA and vintage racing experience and I want to compete with the pros and be judged with the pros," Cummins declared.

Cummins also wants to use his participation in the sport to draw attention to the work of Cyberonics, a company for which he's served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer since 1995.

Under Cummins' leadership, Cyberonics pioneered the first implantable medical device, called the VNS Therapy System, for drug-resistant epilepsy and for chronic or recurrent treatment-resistant depression. VNS stands for Vagus Nerve Stimulation. The VNS Therapy System consists of a pacemaker-like generator and a nerve-stimulation electrode that acts as a "pacemaker for the brain," favorably altering neurotransmitters and activities in the areas of the brain implicated in epileptic seizures and mood disorders such as depression.

Although Cyberonics is providing no sponsorship for the team, Cummins hopes to use racing to spread the news about the VNS Therapy System and reach people who need this kind of help but might not be aware that such a system exists.

"Cyberonics is improving a lot of people's lives; help is available," he said.

Practice for the DP class starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday. A 30-minute Daytona Prototype qualifying race is slated for 1:15 p.m. Saturday. The featured race, where the Daytona Prototypes will be joined by the GT cars, starts at 1 p.m. Sunday. It will be broadcast live on SPEED.

Live timing and scoring is available on the Internet at The team's Web site is under development at Photos from Homestead are already posted on and they'll be joined by others from VIR. Information about the VNS Therapy System can be found at


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Tony Ave , Skip Cummins , Justin Hall