Laid Back Approach Lets Lamb, Atlanta Speedwerks Do What They Do Best in MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Debut Season
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

For most IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge teams, a top-five finish at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway would be a dream come true.

For the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic TCR team, a fourth-place finish in its series debut was instead bittersweet.

Having led 17 laps – all coming in the second half of the race – co-drivers Todd Lamb and Brian Henderson had a podium -- maybe even a potential victory -- within their grasp until a late issue dropped the team one lap down, and one spot off the podium at the checkered flag.

 “We have a really good crew and a good strategist and that was part of the part of the game with a four-hour race ahead of us,” said Lamb, who is also the team owner of Atlanta Speedwerks. “We basically went into this with a mentality of ‘We have to survive.’

“Having raced in the past in endurance racing, I know full well that we just need to get to the end of the race before we're going to win anything. Between Brian and myself, that was the goal, to keep out of trouble and not fight too hard for the first two thirds of the race. Just be there at the end and be in a position to win. And we were up until we got a flat tire. Things were looking really good, so it is what it is.”

Lamb runs his team – which recently relocated to a larger shop just 20 minutes from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – with a different style than one might expect from a team owner who doubles as a driver. At track, Lamb hands the reins over to the experts, allowing himself to focus on what he needs to do – drive.

“When I'm at the races, I'm just the driver and a little bit of a coach,” said Lamb. “I take a step back at that point and let the team run the program. They're really good at what they do, and the crew is amazing. They kind of run the show while we’re at the track, so it works well for me so I can just focus on the driving.

“I put full trust in the guys that are taking care of everything at the track and they know exactly what they're doing. Most of the guys were from the Freedom (Autosport) deal that ran Mazdas for a couple of years and that was a very successful program. They don't need me to get in the way and tell them what to do.”

Now racing a Honda in the Pilot Challenge, Atlanta Speedwerks has its roots in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup where Lamb and Henderson both raced for the last couple years. With Lamb’s prior experience in IMSA and Henderson looking to advance his career – he’s also raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASA, SCCA, and NASCAR K&N – the move to TCR was a natural progression for both drivers.

“We've been researching TCR for the past year and a half,” said Lamb. “I was hoping to jump in last year, but we just had so much going on with the Global series and with all the other aspects of racing that we do on club racing level. It just didn't make sense at the time.

“When I started looking around this year and talking to the various series and sorting everything out, IMSA made sense and for me, where I wanted to end up as a shop owner at some point having raced in previous incarnations of IMSA as a driver.”

And Lamb isn’t halting Atlanta Speedwerks’ expansion anytime soon. In fact, the team has a second Honda Civic TCR in the shop just waiting for a couple drivers to step inside.

“Our hope was that we would have a good showing at Daytona and we certainly did,” said Lamb. “I'm excited to have a second car because that'll allow us to branch out a little bit and do some different setups and strategies throughout the weekend and, you know, maybe find an advantage.”

The next race for Atlanta Speedwerks and the rest of the Pilot Challenge field will be the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway on March 15. While lacking IMSA experience at the historic track, the duo did run with Global MX-5 Cup as part of the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore last November.

“Brian and I are both looking forward to it,” said Lamb “I saw people did really well and worked well together at Daytona and I think we’ll work really well together at Sebring. We're excited for the whole season. Sebring’s obviously next on the schedule, but we're excited for every event coming up.”