A champion driver and former team owner in his own right, Jack Baldwin has made the transition to being the GT and GTS Class Manager for Pirelli World Challenge.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Baldwin explains his role and reflects on the state of the sport he has been involved in for over four decades.
How are you enjoying being on the sanctioning body side of the sport?
“Honestly, I’m finding it quite interesting and a nice challenge. It was a good next step for me. I’ve been mostly behind the wheel, but I did get to own and run at team with GTSport Racing.
“Now being on the business side of the sport, I’m finding it to be quite a challenge in a good way. I enjoy working with the drivers coming up and the teams and manufacturers.
“I’m trying to make the sport I’ve always loved a better place.”
What are your main functions as a class manager?
“My main function is on the business side but I find myself being a liaison between the teams, drivers, and the officials on the other side.
“I don’t do competition, but I do have a voice in it because everything affects the business and we are in the business of racing.
“I know it’s something that the competitors really appreciate: having someone who will come and talk to them, listen to them, and understand their challenges, their issues.
“I try to listen to that, understand that, and translate it back to the competition side or race control, to sort of interpret it and be the liaison that brings the two sides together.
“You could simply say customer service, but it’s more than customer service. It takes someone that knows the sport from every side to look at the whole picture and understand.”
What makes Pirelli World Challenge stand out among all of the sports car racing series?
“We are a sprint-based series. We’ve added SprintX, but that’s sprint racing with a twist, and it gives two guys the opportunity to share the cost and come enjoy our paddock.
“It’s an opportunity to race at a professional level that’s less involving. The races are shorter, they require less people, and I think that’s the biggest thing.
“This is all about getting the job done, and it’s proven to work well for the customer.”
How has racing changed in your time in the sport?
“Like anything, it has evolved. Good or bad, agree or not, racing now is more political. With manufacturers building the cars and getting them homologated, a lot of the ingenuity is out of the car.
“We don’t build cars, we don’t develop cars anymore. In most cases it’s not a bad thing. One part of me doesn’t like the idea that the innovation is now out of the car, but I do understand the reasoning and it does make sense.
“Now, you can spend more of your money racing the car, and less of the money developing the car. When I developed the Cayman with GTSport Racing, we could have run a full season with what we spent developing the car.
“Now, I can just go buy a car and get right to it, and the teams that embrace it are doing better than the teams that don’t.
“If they embrace it, work with the manufacturer, they are the teams that are doing better than the teams that are trying to swim upstream.
“Also, I think the bigger picture from the beginning of my career to now, the cars are much safer. The seat is installed correctly, the seatbelts are at the right angle, and you didn’t always find that when people were building their own cars. There was inconsistency there.
“On top of that, you’re driving a car today that you can drive anywhere in the world. That’s a good thing. Motorsports has become less regional and more global.
“Our series is connected to the SRO’s series whereas before we were just us. That makes it bigger and better.”