IMSA Spotlight: Randy Hembrey
Senior Series Manager of Development and Single-Make Series
What does your role as Senior Series Manager of Development and Single-Make Series entail during the season?
“Essentially, I am the General Manager of a number of IMSA’s “support” programs. This includes the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and also the IMSA Prototype Challenge.
“Series Managers have overall responsibility for the operation of each series. IMSA has dedicated Administrative, Marketing, PR, Competition, Logistics, and Technical departments that each manage these disciplines individually, but the Series Manager represents their series throughout each of these processes.
“The Series Manager is also the front line for providing customer service to our customers (teams and drivers) and partners. There are three of us at IMSA. In addition to me, Ed Hall looks after our WeatherTech Championship and Jeff Smallwood handles Continental Tire Sports Car Championship.”
What value do the series you oversee bring to IMSA as a whole?
“The Single Make and Development programs serve several functions for IMSA. First, they are a platform for up and coming new talent to gain valuable racing experience in a professional environment, where they can continue to hone their skills and further prepare themselves for a career in racing.
“These programs also allow WeatherTech Championship Series teams to run their own development programs right under their own awning. For example, a WeatherTech Championship team can also run GT3 Cup Challenge cars or LMP3 cars and develop their own drivers and crew members who can then progress up into the big show.
“From the ‘Single-Make’ context, these programs also afford the manufacturers such as Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini to provide professional ‘spec-type’ competition programs for their customers and also to showcase their products.”
How would you assess the 2017 season for the development and single-make series in IMSA?
“2017 was a fantastic year for us. We’ve had numerous highlights throughout the season, but the one true endorsement of the success of our development programs was the team of drivers comprised of three of the class champions from the GT3 Cup Challenge USA and the GT3 Cup Challenge Canada that won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in the Alegra Motorsports Porsche GT Daytona car.
“From a content standpoint, we had several debuts. Prototype Challenge accomplished an extremely successful North American launch of the global-spec LMP3 program.
“Our GT3 Cup Challenge series were the first global market, alongside Porsche Supercup, to receive the newest model Generation 991.2 GT3 Cup Car ahead of the rest of the world. Ferrari Challenge successfully launched the new 488 and had record grids.”
What has you excited about what is to come in 2018?
“2018 will bring a number of great programs. The IMSA Prototype Challenge will move away from the current sprint races and to an all-new mini-endurance format with multiple drivers and 1 hour, 45 minute races.
“IMSA Prototype Challenge will open our season by hosting the first ever championship points race during the Roar Before the 24 weekend at Daytona and will also be a part of the recently announced Encore event in November at Sebring.
“In addition to our typical schedule with our IMSA WeatherTech Championship content, GT3 Cup Challenge USA will also run support for IndyCar at Barber Motorsports Park as well as Sonoma.
“GT3 Cup Challenge Canada will once again support the Canadian GrandPrix F1 race as well as Toronto Indy and the Grand Prix Trois Rivieres. Both GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and GT3 Cup Challenge USA will run a pair of joint races at Sebring during the 12 Hour weekend.”
What is your background in motorsports and how has it helped you in this role?
“I started my racing career in 1980, primarily competing and officiating in club racing. During this time I had a long career in aerospace.
“By around 2005, I had been doing enough ‘pro’ officiating work that I changed careers and moved into racing full time. I’ve held senior positions for nearly every North American sanctioning body including SCCA, USAC, and IndyCar.
“I’ve been in the Race Director or Competition Director role for numerous series including Trans-Am, Formula Drift, MX-5, World Challenge, TORC Off Road, Mazda Road To Indy and of course IMSA.
“I would say that the single most important lesson I’ve learned over the years is that, racing is a tiny industry. Regardless of the type of racing or sanctioning organization, there are really just a small number of people pulling the levers and everybody knows everybody else.
“Every two or three years, people change the logo that is on their shirt and if you want to make it around here, don’t burn bridges, keep an open mind, and embrace and learn from your competition.
“Racing is an amazing family of people, all centered around this crazy sport. It’s a really small community that fuels it’s own micro-economy and we need to take care of each other in order to keep the engine running.”