New York/New Jersey Fans Are Pulling For Bodymotion Racing in Friday's CTSCC Race at Sebring

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Yankees are in Tampa for Spring Training and the Mets are practicing in Port St. Lucie. The most successful team from the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series, Ocean Township, N.J.-based Bodymotion Racing, and its four drivers, who all live in New York or New Jersey, won't be practicing but instead they'll be battling it out for real in their second race of the season on Friday at another Florida location, the historic Sebring International Raceway.

Bodymotion Racing, which finished second last year in the championship of the series' top class, Grand Sport (GS), by the smallest of margins, has entered two cars in the two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 that precedes Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The team's GS car, the No. 5 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR sponsored by Med Compass and Competition Motorsport, will be driven by a former champion in the Street Tuner (ST) class, Stevan McAleer of Monticello, N.Y., and rookie Joe Robillard of Short Hills, N.J. The co-drivers of the team's ST car, the No. 21 Porsche Cayman sponsored by Competition Motorsport and Delaware Funds, which finished second in class in the season opener at Daytona, are Jason Rabe of Monticello, N.Y. and rookie Max Faulkner of Rumson, N.J.

The large crowd of passionate students on spring break and racing fans can watch the series' three practice sessions on Thursday at 10 a.m., 2:05 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The ST and Touring Car classes will qualify at 5:55 p.m. that day, while the 27 GS cars' starting positions will be established during their qualifying session 20 minutes later.

Live video coverage and live timing and scoring of the race will be offered on imsa.tv and imsa.com. The race will be telecast on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, March 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.

Pre-race quotes follow:

Michael Bavaro, team owner:

Your team is based in New Jersey and this year all four of your drivers are from New York or New Jersey. Has that ever happened before in all your years as a team owner? Does it help at least some that all the drivers are relatively close, and could get to the shop in a day if necessary? I can't think of any other race team from the New York metro area that is any more successful. Do you feel like you're representing the entire metropolitan area?
"It has never happened before that all of our drivers are from the New York/New Jersey metro area. It is nice for seat fittings, practicing pit stops, and laundry. The drivers like us to transport their clean driver suits, helmets and gear to the track and their well-used garments back home in our transporter, and it's nice they come by and pick up and drop off. I do think one of the best and unrecognized benefits are for the guys back in the shop to get to meet and know who is driving the cars they build, maintain and repair. It puts a face and personality to the car and makes the team more cohesive."

Your GS car set the second-fastest lap at Daytona and your ST car finished second in class in the race there, so you're off to a positive start on the results sheets. What other positive things does Bodymotion have going for it this year that fans might not realize, but makes you excited for the season?  
"Yes, two big things: a new associate sponsor and enthusiasm! Bodymotion Racing welcomes a new sponsor for 2018 in the form of Competition Motorsport (CMS), a motorsport supplier that really knows the racing business and works with everyone from weekend club racers to professional drivers, teams and fabricators; they are a one-stop shop for motorsports.

"As far as the enthusiasm part, I realize we have had this in the past few years, but it grows; it multiplies. On the radio at Daytona during practice the entire crew and anyone else listening on our radio frequency were delighted when young Max Faulkner was expressing his delight over finally making it to Daytona and how wonderful the car was to drive! Or when a slightly older youngster, one Stevan McAleer, let out the loudest 'Yeeha!' lap after lap, the look and smiles on the entire crew are fixed in my mind. I wish we had a picture of everyone in the pits high fiving each other; that's what momentum does!"

Bodymotion coupled a former champion (Trent Hindman) with a raw rookie (Cameron Cassels), and within two years that combo was leading the point standings and finished second in points in 2017. Do you have similar plans with veteran Stevan McAleer and rookie Joe Robillard? Do you think they can work together as well as Trent and Cameron did? What is it about Bodymotion that makes it a good team for driver development?
"It is eerie to compare the two sets of driver pairs. Professional, seasoned, young hot-shoe coaches paired up with mature drivers looking to up their game. While the approach differs slightly, the results will be similar. When you can put ego aside for just a bit, humble up, look at the data and listen to each other, amazing things can, will and did happen, and we certainly look to better our results in 2018. The entire team benefits from learning from mistakes and not repeating them. This gives drivers confidence and the ability to concentrate on their job, 'Shut up, sit down and drive!'"

All four of your drivers have ties to the Monticello Motor Club. Private driving clubs like this are relatively new to the sport. Do you think they're proving to be a good way to generate talent for pro racing?
"I think the motor clubs are an excellent way to find and develop new talent as well as fine-tune seasoned drivers. If I had my way I would require every driver on the road today to avail themselves of a true driving experience.

"It is remarkable to have all four drivers as coaches or members of Monticello Motor Club. They all know each other, they all interact on and off track, they do business together and are all familiar with the work ethic of Ari Strauss, principal of the Monticello Motor Club, that allows our coach drivers the time necessary to pursue their driving careers. The depth of knowledge and experience our drivers are gaining from the IMSA Continental Series is a direct payback. The club's drivers and members are unbelievable based on the feedback we have been hearing."

Stevan McAleer, co-driver, No. 5 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 MR:

You were the ST champion of this series in 2015, and also the 2012 Playboy MX-5 Cup champion. What will it take to win the 2018 GS championship, especially with such a big field of 27 cars?
"It's going to take a team effort. I think we started off on the right foot [at Daytona]. Some gremlins stopped us from a very special chance at a win, but we finished P11. We are happy and I'm proud of Joe and how well he fit in with such a competitive field."

How does being a pro instructor at the Monticello Motor Club help your own driving?
"It keeps me active, for sure. I've been an instructor at Monticello for five years now, and love going there every day I get to. I do a lot of right-seat coaching, and that keeps the focus sharp."

Where does Sebring rank on your list of favorite tracks?
"Sebring is my favorite track in the country. I completed my two-day advanced Skip Barber Racing School there in 2006, which was my first time in the States, and it gets more fun to race on every year. I would like to win the 12 Hours of Sebring one day. That is one of my goals to still accomplish."

What is the most challenging part of the course for you?

"Every driver will tell you the same thing: Turn 1 and Turn 17 decide the lap. They're very bumpy so it's hard to be consistent, but it's where the time can be found."

You were born in Scotland. Which European track reminds you the most of Sebring?
"Not many! Racing on the old airport surface at Sebring is something very cool to experience. I'm sure the Nurburgring is similar in sections."

You set the second-fastest lap of the race in the season opener, so you made a statement that you're fast and you have a fast car. How do you think the Porsche Cayman GT4 MR will fare at Sebring?
"Yes, I am very happy with the team, and I think the Porsche GT4 MR is going to be strong everywhere. Joe will qualify and I'll finish, and I think we can be there at the end." 

Joe Robillard, co-driver, No. 5 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 MR:

This is your rookie season in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, but have you ever driven at Sebring before in either another series or in testing?

"I have raced at Sebring in my Radical.  I participated in last year's PBOC Winterfest, and, along with Ari Strauss and Dwight Merriman, took second place in the six-hour race. I drove half the race (the first and last 90 minutes), despite having never driven a race car in the dark until my second stint. Terrifying fun!"

One of your hobbies is flying, and Sebring is the site of an old air base. Have you ever visited it, or flown a plane from the airport there? If so, when and what kind of plane? Will you fly your own plane to Sebring?

 "I fly a Beechcraft King Air. It's a nine-person turboprop. I fly it to all the race weekends (except California). I flew in to Sebring last month for testing. I also own a Lockwood Air Cam that was actually built at Sebring Airport. I will fly in Wednesday morning for the race. My son, who is part of the pit crew, and Mike Bavaro's wife will be aboard."

I'm assuming that you got to know both Stevan McAleer and Jason Rabe from the Monticello Motor Club, where you were the Lites Club champion last year. Is that where you met them?

"I did meet the guys at MMC, but I am not an instructor; just a member.  I joined in the fall of 2013. That's when I got serious about racing. I have done over 1,000 laps on my Radical at MMC.  We all share as much as we can about tracks."

You're driving the car that finished second in Grand Sport last year, and the car that set the second-fastest lap of the race in the season opener. Does that give you more confidence or more pressure, or a little of both?

"It's actually a new car, but the same type as last year's Bodymotion car. I feel more confident after the good performance at Daytona.  There is always a lot of pressure, but the car is fast, Stevan is fast, and I am...enthusiastic, so more confident than pressured!"

Do you set specific goals for each race? If so, what is your primary personal goal for Sebring?

"For me, the goal in each race is to turn the car over to Stevan somewhere near the front of the field, all on one piece. If I can do that, we will do quite well. I know Sebring pretty well, and I think I can get that done."

You have extensive experience in rallying. In what way is endurance sports car racing most like rallying, and in what way is it most different?

"In both sports you must manage your performance under fatigue.  (The same is true in offshore sailboat racing.) It's hard enough to go fast in a car. Doing it when your brain is all fuzzy is really hard. In sports cars, the stints are intense sprints. In rallying, it's days or weeks of pushing (and working on the car). In that regard they are different, but in both cases, you're really tired."

How do you feel about being back with Bodymotion and back in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series after one year away from it? How hard was it to sit out the 2017 CTSCC season?Jason Rabe, co-driver, No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman:

"Being reunited with the Bodymotion team after a season off is very special. These guys are like family to me. It's like returning home in the paddock, especially with an all-Monticello Motor Club driver lineup! Sitting out an entire race season is probably one of the greatest fears of every racing driver, most certainly after a couple of full seasons in IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition and knowing how good a Bodymotion Porsche is to drive!"

When you consider your unconventional start in the sport, how much of a kick is it for you to now be a professional racing coach and driver, competing at a track as historic as Sebring?

"The journey has been surreal thus far. Every time I drive to 'work' and hop in the cockpit of a race car, I have to pinch myself. I really enjoy coaching; I'm very passionate about it. Someone brought that to my attention the other day; I've had podium finishes in professional racing at three very historic race tracks in America - Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, and Daytona. I really want to add Sebring to that list. Having success at historic race tracks is an amazing feeling!"

You were fourth here at Sebring in ST in 2015. What are the main things people might not realize about what it takes to drive on this particular course?

"We've had two top-fives in two races at Sebring. Bodymotion Racing has always provided a good setup and car here. This track requires a very good car setup and a lot of commitment from the driver!  There are a lot of high-speed corners, different cambered corners, and a lot of bumps, and you must respect the bumps!"

You were on the podium at the season opener (second in ST) at Daytona. What are your personal goals for this race?

"From leaving the series with the pole at Road Atlanta in 2016 to return with a podium finish at Daytona in 2018 is crazy to think about! We want that final ST class victory at Sebring!"

How does being a professional instructor help you develop your own driving and your own racecraft?

"Some benefits in coaching are seat time in different cars, car control, car setup development, team interaction, video and data training, corner critique, race craft with race-school students, etc., etc. I am completely honored and privileged to be a pro instructor at Monticello Motor Club!"

There were only three full-course cautions in this race in 2015, only one in 2016, and only two in 2017. Do you think this year's race will be similar? Why or why not?

"Interesting caution-flag stats. After being a corner marshal and working up in race control, I guess you just never know on any given race weekend!"

The spring-break fans are part of the show at Sebring. Can you relate any particular experience interacting with any of them here?

"Before racing professionally, I spent many years as a fan (I still am!) in the infield - camping, spectating, networking at IMSA, IndyCar, NASCAR, etc. during race weekends. Sebring definitely has some of the best if not the best race fans in the entire world! The amount of excitement, dedication, and fun they are having is amazing! It's probably the coolest infield experience in racing!"

Max Faulkner, co-driver, No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman:

You just turned 20 on March 8. How cool is it to be racing at one of the most historic tracks in North America before you're even 21?

"It is truly amazing. Sebring is one of my favorite tracks in the country. it offers unique challenges that no other tracks in the country offer. It will be my first time at Sebring for the 12 Hours of Sebring and I am excited to experience both racing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Series ST class and seeing the spectacle that is the 12 Hours of Sebring."

How did you get to know Stevan McAleer? When and where did you meet? You raced for McCumbee McAleer Racing in MX-5 Cup, so it must be cool to be sharing the same transporter with your former car owner as drivers, albeit in different cars, for the same team.

"I met Stevan at the Monticello Motor Club five years ago. After getting to know him both at MMC and Oakland Valley Raceway Park, I eventually joined his karting team for a year. During the following year I began club racing at MMC and also began working with Stevan in Mazda Spec Miatas. After that year I joined McCumbee McAleer Racing and raced under Stevan and Chad McCumbee's tent in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup series. Now racing in the same tent as him in CTSCS is extremely rewarding, and fighting with some of the drivers I have watched him race over the past years is also a huge amount of fun and definitely a big challenge for me."

You also have experience at the Monticello Motor Club, where both you and your co-driver, Jason Rabe, are pro instructors. Have you worked with him before there? If so, in what ways has he helped your driving? And if you've worked together in that atmosphere, how will that help you as you work on your car's set-up together?

"Working with Jason at MMC has been an exciting and important learning experience for me. Jason helped me a lot during my early days at MMC teaching me different coaching techniques and also helping me learn the in's and out's of the BMW fleet of cars that MMC uses on a daily basis. Later in my time there Jason also helped me through my first race school and was always around if there was something I needed help with.

"Working on the car and working at MMC are very different, but having a close relationship with Jason before we started racing together is very helpful for us. We are able to communicate very openly about the different ways we want to change the car and also being able to use each other's data and video to learn how to improve each other's driving is one of the best parts about having a good relationship with one's teammate."

What do you think of Sebring? Where does it stand on your list of favorite tracks?

"Sebring is one of my top three favorite tracks in the country. One of my favorite complexes in the country is from Turn 14 to Turn 16; the quick changes in direction and speed create a really challenging section of corners and one where both the car and driver have to be working perfectly or it is easy to lose a lot of time.

"Turn 17 is one of the most famous corners in the country and each and every lap Turn 17 is a challenge. The bumps through the corner and its high-speed nature mean that the corner takes a lot of laps to be able to roll the maximum amount of speed through it. Having tested there earlier in the season I am confident that the Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman is going to be on rails straight out of the trailer at Sebring."

You and Jason finished second in ST in the season opener at Daytona. How much of a boost did that give you as you start this year together in a series where you're a rookie?

"Finishing on the podium in my first race in the CTSCC was an awesome moment for me and the entire Bodymotion Racing team. Our crew chief, Dougie Livingston, along with the rest of the Bodymotion team, gave Jason and I a fantastic car that was fast and consistent throughout my two-hour stint. The team performed perfectly in the pit stops and being able to end up on the podium after all of the hard work that everyone on the team has put in over the past few months was a really fantastic moment. It gives us a lot of confidence going into the race at Sebring as well, knowing that we have a fast package that is more than capable of running at the front of the pack."

What do you think will be the Porsche Cayman's strengths on this particular track?

"The Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman is an extremely well-balanced car through the corners, and on the straights it is faster than anything I have ever driven as well.

"One of the things that I found the car to be best at during the testing that we did at Sebring immediately following the Daytona race was that the car was very strong through high-speed corners. The car gives the driver a huge amount of confidence over the bumps thorough the challenging Turn 1 and Turn 17.

"Over the course of long stints the car is also very consistent and doesn't fall off too badly toward the end of a long stint. This all gives me great confidence that we will be able to push the car hard and be at the front of the pack for the entire weekend!"

Do you have a personal goal for this event? If so, what is it?

"For me at this event personally I want to first get comfortable back in the car, as there has been almost a month break since I last drove the car. Then I want to just be able to find a fast and consistent rhythm at this track. The amount of traffic that is present in the CTSCC is very high, and dealing with that has been a learning curve for me. Being able to deal with that and still have fast times are important goals for me.

"My only other goal is to soak up as much knowledge as I can over the course of the weekend. There are a lot of talented drivers and teams at all of the IMSA events, so there is always a lot to learn, and making the most of those opportunities is important to me." 

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