IRL: TeamXtreme crew profiles

The "X" Files Prior to each race, TeamXtreme will present an extended profile of various members of the team. General Manager John Lopes, Director of Sponsorship Starke Taylor, Chief Engineer Mark Weida, Motor/Shop Manager Tommy O'Brien, Team...

The "X" Files

Prior to each race, TeamXtreme will present an extended profile of various members of the team. General Manager John Lopes, Director of Sponsorship Starke Taylor, Chief Engineer Mark Weida, Motor/Shop Manager Tommy O'Brien, Team Manager Ray Sorenson, Chief Mechanic Derrick Stepan, and Lead Mechanic Bruce Rust are featured for the Pennzoil Copper World INDY 200. 2000 Rookie of the Year Airton Dare' and pit crew member Ronnie DeHays are featured for the Infinity Grand Prix.

Airton Dare - Driver of #88 Car
TeamXtreme's #88 car is piloted by Airton Dare', the 2000 Rookie of the Year. Dare' is from Barau, Brazil but lives in Miami during the race season. His racing career began in jet skiing. Dare' is the winner of six Brazilian championships and one South American championship. He began his motorsport-racing career in the Indy Northern Lights Series in 1997. After a season with Brian Stewart Racing, he joined Forsythe Championship Racing.

In 1998 he earned a win at Detroit and in 1999 a win at Nazareth. Dare' signed with TeamXtreme Racing in 2000. In his inaugural season with the team, Dare' had a season-best second place finish at the Radisson Indy 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Winning the Rookie of the Year award was the highlight of Dare's 2000 season, but now he has his sights set on winning the Northern Light Cup and of course, dominating the INDY 500. Dare' and the team are well on the way to achieving their goals. 1-800 BAR NONE has stepped up as a primary sponsor, support from hundreds of fans in four hometown races and a strong finish in Phoenix give the team and Dare' the necessary resources to enjoy a successful season of Indy racing.

Ronnie DeHays - Vent and Jack Man
Ronnie DeHays, TeamXtreme's Vent and Jack pit crew member, began his career in racing at the age of 15. Over the next 12 years he participated in drag racing by building motors for other race teams. In 1980, DeHays was the crew chief for Jim Wright who currently builds Aurora motors for various Indy Racing teams. He credits Wright with sparking his interest in Indy racing. In 1983 he became the crew chief for driver Jerry Sneva, brother of Tom Sneva. Two years later in Dayton, Ohio DeHays built the first 20 INDY Lights cars that were shipped from England. Also throughout the 80s DeHays built Top Fuel drag boat motors. DeHays joined TeamXtreme Racing three years ago. Mark Weida, the team's engineer, recruited DeHays for a position with the pit crew. He now operates as part of the fuel team and is also responsible for raising and lowering the car during pit stops. "I have been Indy racing for about 20 years now," says DeHays. "My teams have placed second many times over the years, but now it's time to get that ring." During the off-season, DeHays plays professional racquetball. He has been sponsored by Wilson for the past three years and has already earned five national medals for the 2001 season. Last year he was named among the top 15 racquetball players (for his age group) in the world.

John Lopes - General Manager
TeamXtreme's General Manager John Lopes graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1985. He was captain of the football team and class president. After graduation he spent six years in the military as a helicopter pilot and commanded troops during Operation Just Cause in Panama. In 1993 he graduated from Duke University School of Law. While in North Carolina, Lopes worked as a crewmember and an over-the-wall jack man in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series and worked for a North Carolina based Winston Cup marketing firm.

In 1993, Lopes established his law practice in Dallas where he represented various private companies including NASCAR Winston Cup drivers, teams and sponsors as well as professional sports teams and NFL players. He became the General Manager of TeamXtreme Racing in 1998 and was the first hire of the new team. "My role is to grow the business and the team from a fledgling corporation to top competitor while acting as a cross between a corporate manager and a head coach," Lopes explains. "This team has positioned itself as one of the fastest growing and potentially most successful Indy Racing teams. It is a winner on the business and sponsorship front as well as on the race track."

Lopes wears many hats. He is in charge of hiring employees, developing sponsorships, negotiating and drafting contracts and managing the business. He is the public spokesman for the team and its general counsel.

Starke Taylor - Director of Sponsorship
Starke Taylor is the Director of Sponsorship for TeamXtreme. He negotiates agreements with corporate sponsors that benefit the sponsor-company as well as the team. Taylor is a key member of the team's management. Many in the industry regard him as the foremost authority on dot-com sponsorships. Prior to his tenure at TeamXtreme, Taylor sold enterprise resource planning packages for a major national corporation.

His interest in racing evolved long before his inaugural year with the team in 1999. "I have always searched for an avenue to get involved in auto racing," Taylor says. The location of the shop and the opportunity to play an instrumental role in building the team attracted Taylor to TeamXtreme. "Playing a significant role in a promising start-up team was a chance I couldn't pass up. It allows me to combine my interest in motorsports with my business and negotiation abilities." TeamXtreme is well known for its brilliantly adorned cars and each sponsor on those cars was the result of TeamXtreme's unique in-house marketing program formed and managed by Starke Taylor.

Mark Weida - Chief Engineer
Mark Weida is TeamXtreme's Chief Engineer. His career in motorsports began as a youth. His racing background is highlighted with the ownership of three Indy Lights Series Championship winning cars (1986, 1989 and 1992). He also has engineered in numerous Indy 500 races and has a front row start to his credit. Many in the industry credit him as among the finest at calling a race. Mark's wife Kathy has worked for Dan Gurney's All-American Racers for over 25 years. Mark's passions include skiing and motorcross racing in the mountains of Colorado.

Tommy O'Brien - Motor/Shop Manager, Chief Mechanic Car 16
Tommy O'Brien is TeamXtreme's motor and shop manager as well as partner in the business. He began racing professionally in 1980. Throughout his racing career he owned chassis and machine shops. O'Brien's biggest influence is his father who is the former Vice President of the UDRA. The NHRA's Pro Jet Association named O'Brien as Crew Chief of the Year for seven years throughout the 1990s. He attained another notable achievement in 1997 when he became the first owner to win an Indy car race in a Dallara chassis in Phoenix with driver Jim Guthrie. He is happy with the numerous changes that have taken place during the off-season. "Everything is on a positive note. We have had many good personnel changes," attests O'Brien.

Ray Sorenson - Team Manager
Team Manager Ray Sorenson traces his roots in auto racing back to 1985 when he began as a mechanic for small sport car teams. In 1985 his team won the Pro Sport 2000 and in 1986 they won the B Series Sport 2000 championship. During the national runoffs in 1986, Sorenson was a mechanic with 1998 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Steve Knapp. In 1989 he became the chief mechanic for driver Dave Tenny who won the SCCA National Runoffs.

In 1991 he won the CART PPG Championship with Michael Andretti and became chief mechanic in 1998. In 1993 he won the CART PPG Championship with driver Nigel Mansell. Throughout his career in CART, Sorenson, Mansell and Michael Andretti won 33 races, 32 pole positions and two championships. Sorenson joined Patrick Racing in 1999 as their test team chief mechanic.

In 1999, Sorenson joined TeamXtreme at the Indianapolis 500. This season he moves to Texas full-time to serve as Team Manager. His responsibilities include overseeing the crew and the race operations of the team. "We made the right changes in pre-season testing and the latest test results have proven that. I look forward to some good showings," says Sorenson.

Derrick Stepan - Chief Mechanic
A new addition to TeamXtreme's roster is Chief Mechanic Derrick Stepan. Stepan was a mechanic for A.J. Foyt. Then he moved to Indianapolis and became the crew chief for Tony Stewart when he ran the Indy 500 in 1999. John Lopes recruited Stepan for his renowned mechanic abilities from as early as 1998. "Racing is like a big family so we all know which teams are doing a good job," Stepan explains. "Lopes called me in December. I knew that the team had lots of potential so I went to see the shop. It is one of the nicest facilities in the league. Plus, I wanted to take this opportunity to be chief mechanic for Airton [Dare']." Stepan believes that the combination of Mark Weida, one of the best engineers in the league, and a talented team of mechanics and fabricators will ensure a successful season. He and the crew are anticipating an exciting season of racing.

Bruce Rust - Lead Mechanic
Lead mechanic Bruce Rust began his motorsports career in 1980 in the CART series. While working with Can-Am and the American Indy Car Series in the mid 80s, Rust graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University's pharmacy school. In 1998 he worked part time with Blueprint Racing and in 1999 he began full time with TeamXtreme. "I also worked with Derrick Stepan at Tri-Star but I came to TeamXtreme because Dare' has the potential to win, Weida's record speaks for itself and the combination of good management and a great crew put all the puzzle pieces in place," explains Rust. "We have the necessary equipment for a championship team and everyone's dedication and hard work will be reflected in our success on the track." Rust continues his pharmacy practice during the off season.

-TeamXtreme Racing, L.L.C.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Airton Daré , Jim Guthrie , Michael Andretti , Nigel Mansell , Dan Gurney , Tom Sneva , Steve Knapp , A.J. Foyt