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Pobst Position: Championship
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Pobst Position:
Ah, what a magic word. KPAX/3R Racing Porsche #22, "Champion" of World Challenge GT, 2007. Our own small taste of immortality, like building a pyramid. Making a mark. Our names go down in the record books, forever. When I started autocrossing, the names of every champion were listed in the back of the rulebook. Do we still do that? After 1983, I loved seeing my name there, with car and hometown. Does that make me an egomaniac? I like seeing my name when they list the winners on the web site schedule. I really liked seeing my name on top of both points lists, though that only lasted one month. Yep. Ego problem.

I always talk about how racing is a team sport, but this Drivers' Championship really belongs to just one person, Jim Haughey, the man behind KPAX Racing, our sponsor, car owner, photographer, and all-'round nice guy. You made it happen, thank you, and congratulations, Jim. I just happened to stumble into a great ride because I had some friends in the right places. In pro racing, it's just like they say in show business. Well, it IS show business, and who ya know is very important. Course, once you're in the seat, you gotta deliver. As I say, just be incredibly fast, and almost never crash.

A championship is a true team accomplishment. A blind squirrel can may find a nut once in a while, but he's not gonna stock the nest for winter. A championship requires planning and preparation. Being ready for the unexpected, working with officials, constant development as weight adjusts, keeping and caring for good crew people, managing temperamental thoroughbred drivers, on and on. Championships are won in the garage at home, before the team ever leaves for the track, thank you, 3R.

My strategy as a driver? One word. Survive. There is an interesting and very logical trend in the career of a thinking, as opposed to emotional, driver. The longer one races, the more one sees all that can go wrong, making one more cautious. 'Course, there are some old firebrands who just rock on, and they are fun to watch, but maybe not always so fun to be around on track. To win a championship, one must see the big picture. Early last year, we did not yet have a great handling car. The Porsche 997 is a evolved animal, and World Challenge has its own rules and Toyo tires that change the car significantly from its design purpose. I was in survival mode. KPAX/3R leader Bob Raub built for reliability first, then speed (Gee, I hope our competitors don't read this column). Look at our first six finishes: 7th, 6th, 4th, 3rd, 1st,1st. Can this team develop a car, or what?

In Touring Car, our Tri-Point Mazda 6's were on their third season. Sorted and further refined, ready to Crush! Kill! Destroy! from lap one race one. Everyone else was relegated to playing catch up, which to their credit they did, but too late. Mazda won the Manufacturer's title, and we darn near won the Driver's here, too. We had a few tough breaks along the way. Touring car was deeper than GT. Miss the setup a bit, and you're twelfth. All three times I qualified in the pack, I got hit, hard. So I can call that luck, hit from behind, out of my control, but I put myself at risk when I put myself back there. One thing I'm working on long-term is improving the racing for everyone through mutual understanding and video enforcement. Still, survival is not always in our own hands. Experienced drivers know that even a winning season will often have one bad race. My first professional championship started with a massive crash DNF in race one (Miami Grands Prix, 1990). It made me better, painfully. I learned about seeing the big picture, never giving up, and that magic word.

Originally printed in Sportscar February 2008
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