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FERRIOL: Bringing Military Structure to Motorsports

Team Hardpoint EBM owner/driver Rob Ferriol files his first Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Sideline Sports Photography

“Come to a track day,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said.

That was 2015, when going to the track meant tossing my 2008 Porsche 911 on an open trailer with a cooler, floor jack, gas jug, and tire gauge in the bed of the truck to VIRginia International Raceway.

Six years later, almost to the day, Team Hardpoint EBM locked the doors to our 10,000 square foot facility that is located at VIR and headed south for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with a pair of 53-foot race haulers, four Porsche race cars, and a support trailer just for good measure.

That’s about 140 linear feet of parts and equipment down low, and four race cars up high.

Meanwhile, a team of nearly 50 personnel, including mechanics, engineers, spotters, drivers, and other support staff were making their way to Sebring, where we would compete in both the first round of the inaugural Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by the Cayman Islands series and the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

My, how things have escalated!

Photo: Porsche

Now I’ve loved Porsches and road racing since I was a kid, so a lot of friends and family look at how I’ve chosen to spend my second career and think “yep, I definitely saw that coming.”

However, after more than two decades of working in and alongside the U.S. Special Operations Forces community and broader U.S. military, what turned me from track day noob to IMSA team owner and driver was the uncanny parallels between the sense of unity and purpose in the military and that of a professional race team.

On a deployment you have commanders, operators, and an array of supporting staff like intelligence, planners, supply, logistics, and communications, all united in a common mission – each playing their part, no less or more important than the other.

Step into the IMSA paddock on any given weekend and you’ll see the same – team principals, drivers, engineers, mechanics, technicians and other support elements coming together to prepare, maintain, and field what they hope is a winning car. Each human factor as crucial as the other, and all united by that common goal of winning.

Photo: Sideline Sports Photography

When you’re not on deployment, you’re back at your home base in what we called “garrison,” where you recuperated and trained, repaired and maintained equipment, and planned for your next deployment.

Again, not unlike a race team, where we rest and recuperate, continue to test and train, repair and maintain our cars and equipment, and plan for the next race.

So when people ask me why I decided to start a race team, it’s not just because I like cars or going fast, it’s also because it feels like home. The camaraderie, the shared vision and motivation, and the constant cycle of refinement, preparation, and execution.

I’ve been fortunate enough to not only bring over trusted colleagues from my former life, who share my passion for a good team and common mission, but have also welcomed in a tremendous amount of experience across this group of amazing people who’ve chosen to hang their hat (or helmet) at Team Hardpoint EBM.

Photo: Porsche

As a new team, we all know the hill is steep, and the hill is tall, but with the right balance of vision and execution we can find ourselves on the podium.

There is one thing that I will say is different in my former life. There, it’s rare that the commander gets to go out on a raid or an operation, as his role and his value to the unit is best suited on the other end of the radio, or the drone feed, commanding his team on the ground.

As “commander” of Team Hardpoint EBM, and a driver, I get the best of both worlds.

So on this Memorial Day, while I quietly and privately pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed, I’ll be donning my suit and helmet, jumping behind the wheel of our Porsche 911 GT3 R for a few laps in preparation for the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, thankful that not only do I get to wear the Hardpoint EBM hat of team owner, but I also get to go out and kick some doors in a few short weeks.

Rob Ferriol is the owner/driver of Team Hardpoint EBM, competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by the Cayman Islands.

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