ec: GT has provided some of the best on-track battles within the ALMS, and television coverage has been limited at best on capturing the intensity. The last lap of Sebring between the Lizards and the Risi Ferrari notwithstanding. What could the series do to get GT more coverage? Has anyone ever asked for your input?
SN: This is like asking a married couple if they ever argue about money. Of course we want more coverage, but the Series has to balance a lot of things in making those on-air choices, and we respect the challenge they face. Overall, our input has been focused on how to make the TV package better in ways that are good for everyone involved. The ALMS is probably the best racing you can see, and we need to find a way to get it out there for the fans.
JvO: Every car in every class wants more TV coverage. TV will follow the action. In the past, there has been a huge amount of action in the prototype classes. This year, action is in GT2 and we are seeing a lot of coverage because of that.
ec: A one-car team can usually fix a budget. Two cars is a doubling up. Last season you ran three RSRs, which has to be a lot more difficult than it would first appear.
EI: For each additional car, the amount you need to add to the budget and crew decreases each time. That said, the workload went in all directions when we went to three cars. Adding the crew for a third car was relatively painless in terms of logistics, but in terms of the important pieces-team-wide communication, working between the cars in the paddock and on track-there was a huge amount of learning and additional work required. So while the number of cars increased by half, the budget increased by less than that, while management requirements within the team increased by what felt like 100 percent.
JvO: We knew that running a third car would be a challenge. We discussed it, planned it and prepared for it, and in some ways, it was a seamless transition from two to three cars. Again, that points back to Seth's management approach of planning and thinking through details and having strong and measurable objectives. I think we underestimated the importance of sharing information; communicating among three effectively separate mini-teams was tough.
ec: How about a breakdown of the entire Lizard operation, shop size, equipment, so on. This isn't to scare off future generations but more a blueprint of what it takes to be a championship-winning team.
EI: We have a 6,000 square-foot shop in Sonoma with four lifts. We have three transporters. We have about 20 full time staff, including management, mechanics, and marketing. Each race requires about 32 people, including drivers. Each car has its own separate crew and management staff-engineers, strategists, and data engineers. There is obviously some overlap though-only one team manager, one crew chief... But this is just the way we've done it. You could certainly do it as well, or better, with more or fewer people. There's no blueprint, but this is what has worked for us.
ec: Your website has broken new ground for fan involvement. How did it come about and what do you have in mind for the future?
SN: We have emphasized our fans from the beginning, and in lots of different ways: gear and apparel, tours, having fun on the grid walks. And thanks for the compliment on our web innovations. Virtually all of that is due to the hard work of our marketing director, Jennifer Hart. She starts every season with a series of goals to keep us on the forefront of all types of fan contact. And she has always delivered. What she'll come up with next, only she knows!
JvO: Our website offers timely, usable information and is interactive in that that you can buy things, see photos from yesterday's practice session, read the race blog, and so on. It gives you a taste of what Flying Lizard stands for, and hopefully some insight into who we are and why we are all so dedicated to going racing.