Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week’s reflection comes from Spirit of Daytona Racing team principal Troy Flis who looks back on the 2012 Grand-Am race at Barber Motorsports Park when his team delivered the first ever win for the Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype.
What was the significance of the win at Barber for the team?
“That win was huge for us, for GM, for Corvette, and also to have Jim Campbell [General Motors Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports] on our pit box for that race.
“To be able to win at that race track, we had been quick there a couple of years in a row and had unfortunate things happen. That race we had a dominant car.
“It was a race track where you had to utilize your tires but also not overuse them. That was a huge deal for us. We had great drivers with Antonio [Garcia] and Richard [Westbrook].
“They managed the tires really well and we had a great car the whole weekend. It was a big event for our team with it being the first Corvette prototype win and the first real win for us.”
Was a win on the radar for you going into the weekend?
“You never know that you’re going to win a race, but I’ll tell you that race track lended its hand to us. Even from the days we started in prototype racing, we always were pretty good there.
“It’s something that with the packages we’d go there with we usually had a pretty good race car. I would say we had a pretty good feeling that we were going to run well, but in this series the competition is so high so you never count on winning.
“With the new car, everything worked perfectly and it was a great weekend for us.”
How has the team improved since that initial win?
“The team has grown from where we started with a street-stock car at Daytona to here. Every year you get better and better and better. You get better people, keep guys who you can groom, and this year is a great year for us.
“Sometimes you go forward and take a couple steps back, and at this point we’ve taken this year as a deal where we are taking a couple of steps back. We grew too quick for our organization and I made some wrong decisions over the past couple of years.
“As a whole, I think it put a lot of stress on my guys, on the drivers, on me, and it’s something that we don’t want to have this year. We’re very excited about this year having a great group of drivers, a great team that has bonded very well, but it’s working very nicely. The guys have a smile on their face.
“We’ve been through a lot of cars, we’ve been through a lot of drivers and changes, but it just makes you stronger. You learn from every one.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with such great professionals over the last 10 years in this sport and I’ve learned from every one of them. I think the next step is to go have fun but do our job and have successful races.”