IMSA Spotlight: Jeff Braun
CORE autosport race engineer
You joined CORE autosport at the beginning of the season. How much of a change was it for you compared to your previous jobs at Mazda and Level 5?
“Not as much as people may think. All three teams are very experienced and operate at a high level. CORE has won many championships and races, so there was little that needed to be changed.
“It was more of me adapting to the procedures that Morgan Brady had in place than anything else. Jon Bennett holds us to high standards and expectations, and thats perfect just like I was used to at Level 5 and SpeedSource.”
It was a tough year for CORE in PC. What did you learn that can be taken into the team’s new program in GTD next year?
“Not to blow up the engine at Daytona 24 and get behind the curve six hours into the season….haha. No seriously, it may not seem like it from the results this year but we operated very well this year. We were on the podium for every race we finished and had two wins in 9 races.
“What it proves more than anything else is that the PC class is very competitive. The year we had likely adds credibility to the five PC championships CORE has won in the past, showing that its not easy to win a championship in IMSA.
“I don’t think we forgot what we learned in the years past, so it shows how good the other teams are. Or it could be that changing race engineers and hiring me was a bad call, you never know.”
Do you find it an advantage in working with your son, Colin, or does it sometimes present any challenges?
“It’s a huge advantage I feel. There is no driver that I understand better and can set up a car with quicker than Colin. We started working together when he was 4 in quarter midgets so now we’re going on 24 years setting up cars, and are starting to get on the same page…haha.
“I know some people may think it can be difficult with a father and son working together, but that’s never the case with us. I know if I can give him a car that feels like he wants it to feel he will be fast!”
The team recently expanded into Global Rallycross. How have you adapted to the different type of racing?
“I’m the race engineer on the GRC program as well as the IMSA program. It has been a lot of fun running Jon and Colin and Scott Anderson this year. It’s a big, steep learning curve for us all.
“Brian Colangelo, our program manager, has put together a really good team from nothing in about two months. I am proud of our five podiums in six races, but thats more down to having a fast driver than good engineering. I have a lot to learn. I have never engineered a car that was supposed to come off the ground before!
“The pace of a GRC weekend is super fast with almost no time between races. So we all had to learn how to debrief, look at data and video and turn the cars around in 1/10 the time were used to. We are all looking forward to continuing the learning curve next year.”
How did you get your start in racing?
“My Dad was a “car guy” and when I was 5 we went to look at a house he and my Mom were thinking of buying. In the garage was a racing kart. I wanted to buy the house thinking the kart came with it. We bought the house and I learned the kart did not come with it.
“We soon had a kart of our own and then my Dad set the hook deep. He said I could not race till I could break the track record at the local track. About six months later and lots of practice we entered a race and won it. That was it, I have raced for the next 54 years straight.”
What has been your proudest moment in your motorsports career?
“Can I count how proud I am of my 2 sons, my wife and my daughter in-law? They are all in racing so thats a motorsports moment right?
“I was super proud of the two car racing championships we won as a family and the many karting championships. And the Daytona 24 hours when we raced as Team 16 together, Colin driving, Travis doing data as a 15 year old and Diane keeping it all running smooth.
“Having Colin win the Daytona 24 the same year I won it with Level 5 was a proud moment as my Dad always dreamed of winning that race and we did it for him in 2014 even though he was not alive to see it. I guess you see a theme here…”