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Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge: Brickyard Sports Car Challenge

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Brickyard Sports Car Challenge

Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge: Brickyard Sports Car Challenge

Lawson Achenbach
Eric Curran
Dan Rogers
Seth Thomas
July 27, 2012


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

THE MODERATOR:  We're going to meet now with our champions from the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge Inaugural Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Indianapolis.  Eric Curran and Lawson Achenbach in the #01 CKS Chevrolet Camaro.  This is the 14th series win for Eric, sixth for Lawson.
Guys, tell us about it and then we'll take a few questions and opening statement about winning the first GRAND‑AM race here at Indy.
ERIC CURRAN:  This is amazing.  Hats off to GRAND‑AM and everybody who put this event together.  It's great to be here.  Could not be more excited.  It's a lot packed into one day and a lot going on.  It's a busy place.
But this is excellent.  This is our first win for this team.  Lawson and I got paired up over the wintertime and this is just great.  Chevrolet is behind us, supporting us, and we have had a bunch of podium finishes.
But here at the top step of the podium and to do it here at Indy is very special for us and it's a big deal.  All of the folks from Chevrolet are here and all of the Camaro fans and everybody who supported us and kept us going here, it's a big win for us today.
Even though the weather was crazy, kind of played in our favor at the end.  Real happy to be here.  Lawson did an awesome job in the beginning, could not be happier; CKS Autosport as a whole team, and Lawson, an amazing package you couldn't dream up and here we are on the top step.  Very exciting and exciting to be here at Indy.
LAWSON ACHENBACH:  Well, took care of most of it for me.
First and foremost, it's great to just be here at Indy.  I've raced here once in Formula 4 in 2005 during the F1 weekend.  I had a taste during then or during that year.  But I don't think it really sunk in until we crossed that checkered flag right at the end of the race here and kissing those bricks.  An awful lot of history, all of the races and winners and everything that happens here really does mean something.
Towards the end there, it started to sink in.  So I just have to say I'm really happy and thankful for everybody at GM, Chevrolet and CKS Autosport.  Eric did a fabulous job of bringing it home at the end and in not the most ideal conditions.  Fortunately made the right call on the tires and the track dried out and he was able to take it home from there.
It was a tough race.  We pitted a little early and actually had to come back through the field and I was able to get backup into second before we came into the final stop and coming back through the field was not easy.
So fortunately we had enough of a car there left at the end for him to take it home, so just proud of everybody and it means a lot and want to thank all of the fans and NASCAR, GRAND‑AM and Continental Tire for letting us come out.

Q.  Since this is your first time racing here, how does this track compare to some of the other tracks that you've ran?
ERIC CURRAN:  Well, this place is amazing because it's indicates he.  It's just everybody is pumped up and excited just coming to Indianapolis for the first time and to race here for the first time is just great.
We came here two weeks ago and did a test that went really well.  And you know, it's amazing just to be here.  It's a different type of racetrack than we might normally run on.  It's great and it kind of figured with our Camaro some, and we really got the car hooked up two weeks ago.  Great to be here with the atmosphere and the fans.  And the great thing Chevrolet supporting Lawson and I, and the whole CKS Autosport team, is a big deal.  To do it in front all the Chevrolet people goes a long way for us.  So it's pretty exciting stuff that way.
THE MODERATOR:  Pleased to be joined by our ST class winners.  They co‑drive the No. 82 BMW 328i, Daniel Rogers and Seth Thomas, second team win for BimmerWorld, first for Daniel, I believe, and third for Seth.  First ones to win in this class at Indianapolis.  What's it feel like?
DAN ROGERS:  It's great.  First off, my dad's name is Daniel.  I'm just Dan.
It's great.  For both of us, this is our first win as a pairing.  We have run together all year, second together in jersey.  CRC has been a great sponsor for us.  The guys got the car dialed in at the test, and we are feeling good about it, and you know, came through for us.
So, we are really happy.  Both of us are happy to get our first win together at Indy which is huge but for me I'm over the moon.  I mean, how can you beat your first professional win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?  That's just incredible.
SETH THOMAS:  Well, you know, I'm kind of like Dan to where it's the point of, i think of all the people that have won here and what the history that's here, and we have kind of reined it in.  That's one of the coolest feelings you can have as a driver.
But to win here, it's not a driver's effort.  It's always a team effort, and that's one of the things that happened today was I had a teammate that had my back.  I made‑‑ I feel unfortunate because I made a pass on him but at the same time, this win isn't just ours, it's a team win; it's a BimmerWorld win.
I hope that I'm in this situation again that I can get his back and give my teammate, John Capestro‑Dubets, a win, also.

Q.  Will you talk about the weather, how it affects driving?  Normally here when it rains, there's a long delay here, and you kept going through the water, spraying and everything.
SETH THOMAS:  Well, I think the big thing with the weather is, we made a gamble and then it paid off to stay out on the Continental Slicks.  And it was pretty‑‑ all I can remember thinking about, all right, I trust my engineer and I trust everything he does.  But it's like, man, I don't know about this.  It was crazy out there.  What was it, I heard one time where somebody was complaining, he couldn't keep up with the pace car.  I couldn't keep up with the pace car.  (Laughing).
You've got to take a little bit of a driving style, a little bit of a smoother driving style and just don't make a mistake is the big thing.  Especially in those extreme conditions.
But Dan might actually be able to explain driving in the water because he's from Alaska.
DAN ROGERS:  I was just watching Seth out there, and part of me was wishing I was out there instead.  But he had his hands full out there.
I grew up in Alaska racing in the Pacific Northwest and we get a lot of rain up there.  I think the series did a smart thing by black‑flagging it and doing the extended yellow session to try to dry the track off.
We were watching weather when I was in the pits.  It was a fairly small cell.  We could see it coming and we could see the back side of it was clear.  It was definitely a gamble, but our engineering guys were on top of it.
You know, them and the crew who prepared the car, you know, it sounds corny, but both Seth and I feel that they deserve this win as much as we do.  Each one of them needs a trophy like that, too.

Q.  What was the worst part of the track?
SETH THOMAS:  Like basically the whole infield section.  When it was really wet, from turn one to NASCAR one, coming back on the oval, it was pretty sketchy.  But probably like the worst would have been like one through three or something, I don't know.
LAWSON ACHENBACH:  Didn't get to see it.  Even at the end of my stint, I came in right before it started raining and we started seeing raindrops.  It wasn't that bad, obviously.  It got way worse after I got out of the car, but even when I was in there, just with the little raindrops, it doesn't take much to get the track a little slick.
And I actually had a little bit of a moment coming on to the front straightaway.  Unfortunately with the type of racing we do and how many cars we have on the track, we probably kept that track pretty hot.  So the rain didn't seem to affect it initially until, you know, I don't know when you got out, but I got out I think with about an hour left.  And that's when Eric got in and that's when it started pouring.
So he had the tough‑‑ I guess, tough job, but fortunately for us, we did the same thing.  We switched‑‑
SETH THOMAS:  No wonder he doesn't look sweaty.
LAWSON ACHENBACH:  We actually gambled, too.  We decided to go drive because we thought it was going to blow through, and for a while we thought we were screwed.  I mean, we thought we were done.  And fortunately they red flagged the race.  It was a smart move because there was too much standing water even in the pit lane.  So I have to say hats off to GRAND‑AM because they made the right call.  Even if you had reins on, it would have been done.  They made the right call.
SETH THOMAS:  Coming into the oval it would have been horrible.
LAWSON ACHENBACH:  Really bad.  So I have to say hats off to them for doing the right thing.  The minute they red flagged the race and saw the sun come out, immediately we just said, as long as it doesn't rain, I think we'll be fine.
And it was pretty much clear sailing from there because I think everybody behind us I think had reins on on that restart.  I think only two guys, the guys that finished second or third had dryers but took them a while to get going.  Eric just kind of cruised from there, so it was good.

Q.  Other than the rain, how did the course affect you considering this is the first time you've raced here and it's an unfamiliar track?
LAWSON ACHENBACH: Well, I think for anybody, anybody that's driven in the rain, you know, a rain line is pretty standard.  You can almost feel it during a caution.  You can kind of play with the car a little bit, go inside, go outside, try the different lines throughout the track, but the majority of the track if there's a lot of rubber on the track you want to stay about a car width off.
So it's almost that generic thing that pretty much every does.  So if we were racing in the rain, I can promise you everybody would have been a car width to a half a car width off the apexes; if there's standing water you go around that obviously.
But the tricky one was going to be NASCAR one.  With the rain there, like in Daytona we can still go flat out in the rain on the banking because we have got so much angle to that, and it's really almost like driving in a straightaway, at least the wheel, it can almost go around by itself.  Here you have to apex it; you have to turn.  It's actually a tough corner.
So in the rain, I have no idea what people would have done there, but I would have expected probably the same thing, stay a little bit high.  Stay maybe in the same gearing, keep the revs low, and just watch your brake points.
SETH THOMAS:  Now he's talking from a Camaro standpoint.  Let me talk about the ST standpoint where you don't have much horsepower.  (Laughter).
LAWSON ACHENBACH:  Exactly.
SETH THOMAS:  Honestly, what Lawson says, we do come to an unfamiliar track.  But one of the things you always do is you're always feeling out grip no matter what track you go to.  And that's what we do as drivers, no matter what we are driving, we are trying to figure out a grip level, rain or dry, and make it work, make it stick.
For us in the ST car on the oval it would have been easier, a lot easier than those guys.  But the main thing is all of us would have been fighting grip through the oval section.  And so for us coming in for an unfamiliar track that's kind of how we take the approach is find grip, find where it's at and use whatever portion on the track we can find.

Q.  My question is going to be, this is the first time that you guys have run on this compound.  How did it handle in rain conditions?  I know we did okay in the test.  How was it in the race today?
LAWSON ACHENBACH:  I think it was a testament just at the test, the test was probably 110 with the heating ducts and everything.  The tires lasted fine and ran fine.
You know, coming into this weekend, it was basically the weather; how long could you run if it was really hot.  Fortunately it stayed fairly cool, I mean, considering.
For us, our tires held up great.  We actually ran that whole first hour and a half changing one tire, and it was because we tried to change the left sides and we only got the left front because the guy got kind of screwed up, so we decided to wave the left rear.  That itself is a testament to how great the tire is because it lasted the whole time.  I've got nothing against it.  I thought it was a great tire.
DAN ROGERS:  We ran the old tires from Mid‑Ohio at the test, get rubber on the track and get a feel for what was going on.  And we put the new tires on, the eyes (ph), on, and we all could feel a difference right out of the gate.  I mean, they are absolutely incredible.  And the old tires were good.  I mean, there's nothing wrong with the old tires.
So, yeah, we are really pleased with the continental tire.
Thank you guys for being a sponsor.  I don't know, I didn't hear anybody in the paddock saying anything bad about the tires.  They were absolutely incredible.  I heard a few guys that if it rains, maybe we should have just stayed on the Slicks.
SETH THOMAS:  Yeah, as far as the tires go, this is actually the first set that we have corded.  The grip level stayed the same all the way down to the cords.  So that's a testament to the tire to how long it's lasting at this point versus compared to the old tires.  We are in lighter cars than the GS cars, but still, to come out here and hit the oval as rough as the pavement is compared to where we normally go, yeah, it's a good testament to the Continental tire and the durability and the grip level of it. 

Q.  You're from Alaska; I don't know, we have had Iditarod racers here, but I don't know if eve ever had an Alaskan driver.
DAN ROGERS:  I am pretty sure you haven't.  A couple guys years ago, my brother actually owns the Daytona car that ran in the late 70s.  But yeah, he raced up there for a lot of years.  But for Indy, definitely for Indy and for most of the Continental Series.  Yeah, I think I'm it.  So you're stuck with me.

Q.  And where are you from?
DAN ROGERS:  I live in Anchorage.
THE MODERATOR:  Indianapolis Champions, guys.  Sounds pretty good.  Congratulations.



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