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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Jim Haughey

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring K-PAX Racing team owner Jim Haughey…

Photo: John Dagys

Since Jim Haughey founded K-PAX Racing in 2006, the team has become one of the most iconic on the Pirelli World Challenge grid.

This year the team makes the switch to running a pair of Bentley Continental GT3 machines for 2016 series champion Alvaro Parente and up-and-comer Rodrigo Baptista, with Bentley factory aces Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet set to join the team for the SprintX rounds.

In this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass, Haughey fills us on on the status of the team with the PWC season-opener in St. Petersburg less than one month away.

How important was it to keep Alvaro Parente in the fold despite the manufacturer change?

“Alvaro is special. He has a great combination of experience, skill, humbleness, and not too much ego but, enough to kick your butt on track when he has the car to get it done.

“Alvaro is a pleasure to work with so yes, we all wanted him back and feel fortunate to have him in the Bentley but don’t overlook Rodrigo Baptista.

“He is an up-and-coming star and reminds me of Alvaro in many ways. He may surprise a lot of people this year with his performance.”

What are the benefits of having Alvaro Parente back with the team for the third-straight year?

“This being the third year has significant benefits because he’s raced at all the tracks except Portland, and we’ve been fortunate enough to keep all the crew members and engineers from the past last year.

“We’ve got a great group of people that work well together. Alvaro also has a couple of years in the Pirelli World Challenge so he knows the rules and expectations of the stewards.”

What goals do you have for the upcoming season?

“It’s going to be another tough year with the level of competition the Pirelli World Challenge draws. We’ve done a lot of preseason work to familiarize everyone on the team with the Bentley Continental GT3.

“It’s easy to say we want to win the championship, but to do so we need to stay focused on every event and all the little details that go into each practice, qualifying and race.

“Right now, I’m just so pleased to be in the Bentleys. They look great and the deep-throated sound just puts a smile on my face.”

How excited are you to get the season and your new relationship with Bentley started?

“We’ve worked with Porsche, Volvo and McLaren. They have all been great but Bentley is different. They are a car company that welcomes you in.

“From the engineering team to marketing team to dealers, they are all there with helpful ideas. The Bentley folks are some of the best I’ve worked with.

“The Bentley cars are perfection. I am so fortunate to be involved with the Bentleys.”

Where does the name K-PAX come from?

“The K-PAX name comes from a series of books written by Gene Brewer that I read when I was younger. In the books there is a character who claims he is from the planet K-PAX although he looks, walks and talks like a human.

“He has a hard time convincing others he is actually from the planet K-PAX. When I was considering team names, I was talking with builders on turning a Volvo S60 AWD sedan into a racecar.

“I was getting a lot of pushback from folks that Volvos are not race cars. Someone even said to me, ‘Are you from another planet?’ That comment ultimately led to the K-PAX Racing name.”

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