Brian Simo champion Sebring preview

Brian Simo will start his quest for a second Trans-Am Series championship in the March 16 season opener at Sebring International Raceway. He won the 2000 Sebring race en route to his first series title, and hopes to repeat both the race and ...

Brian Simo will start his quest for a second Trans-Am Series championship in the March 16 season opener at Sebring International Raceway. He won the 2000 Sebring race en route to his first series title, and hopes to repeat both the race and championship victories this year.

"I want to continue to develop as a driver," he explained. "I have the opportunity to do that with our race engineer, Lynn Bishop, who I think is unbelievable. Together with Tommy Bahama, Valvoline and Tom Gloy Racing, I think we have all the right ingredients.

"My goal is real simple: I just want to continue winning races. Obviously, I want another championship, but the only way to get there is one race at a time. I hope this race at Sebring will be the start of a very strong season for us."

Instead of sporting the traditional champion's No. 1, Simo's car carries the No. 88 that took him to victory in 2000. The number was chosen because the heritage of his sponsor Tommy Bahama includes elements of Chinese culture, where the numeral 8 is valued as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.

What does it take to win? For Simo, it's determination. "My primary asset is determination," he said. "I feel like I'm driven to do things in my life, not just in car racing, but in business and other areas. I am ultra-competitive." An evaluation by Human Performance International showed his competitive profile was "off the charts".

In addition to auto racing and motocross, Simo has participated in barefoot water-skiing, surfing, scuba diving, alpine skiing, snowboarding, bobsled, luge, skydiving and bungee jumping. His fitness regime includes strength and endurance training.

"Physical fitness is imperative to anything," he stated. "It's imperative for a sharp mind. It helps anything you do -- it helps business, it helps life, it helps all the fun things. I don't think that you can truly excel at something mentally unless you're physically balanced."

why race?

Simo hopes his success will encourage others. "I think an important part of any great athlete is they realize that what they do is part of a bigger picture, where they actually truly inspire people," he said. "If there's a way to inspire somebody or motivate somebody or offer hope in any real capacity, it's important."

BRIAN SIMO

born: Oct. 1, 1959 in Beloit, Wis.
residence: Carlsbad, Calif.
family: wife Celeste, daughters Savannah and Sawyer
pronunciation: SIM o, not SEEM o

2001

Brian Simo is defending his Trans-Am Series driver championship in the No. 88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta fielded by Tom Gloy Racing, with associate sponsorship from Valvoline.

race highlights

Simo raced motocross from 1971 to 1984, then started SCCA showroom-stock racing in 1990. He and his twin Mark won the 1992 Firestone Firehawk championship as team owners and Brian won the 1993 Willow Springs Sportsman Series championship.

Simo drove his first Trans-Am Series race in 1994, in a Racewerks car. In 1995, with Tom Gloy Racing, he was the only driver to finish in the top-10 in every race and the only driver to complete every lap. He earned his first Trans-Am podium and eight top-five finishes in 1996. He finished second in the 1997 driver championship with seven top-fives, including three podium finishes. In 1998, he was second with two wins and six podium finishes. In 1999, he moved to Racewerks and collected his third runner-up title with six victories, eight poles and nine podium finishes. He was the only driver to start every 1999 race in the top five.

Simo won the Trans-Am Series driver championship in 2000, driving the No. 88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta for Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports. He opened the season with a dramatic last-to-first victory at Sebring International Raceway and followed with wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte and Mosport International Raceway. He started in the top three for 11 of 12 races, with four pole positions and eight front-row starts. He scored six podium finishes, set six fastest race laps and led nine races. He completed 455 of 490 race laps (93 per cent). In 86 career Trans-Am starts, he has amassed 66 top-10 finishes (77 per cent).

Simo competed in NASCAR Busch Series races at Watkins Glen International in 1997 and 1998. Both times, he was leading the race when his engine let go. In 2000, he drove in his first NASCAR Winston Cup race, at Sears Point Raceway. He qualified 34th and finished 36th, despite a long pit stop to replace a broken gear.

He has also driven in several sports-car races. In four starts with BMW Team PTG, he scored two GT2 (now GTS) wins in 1998 and GT podium finishes at the Petit Le Mans in 1998 and 1999. His career highlights include a fourth-place finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

-Spur

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Brian Simo , Tom Gloy