It seems every decade in American sports car and GT racing has its mainstays. The names you associate with certain manufacturers. Some have fallback positions as dealers and constructors. But as a standalone business, a race team as a sole income? As the song goes: "It ain't easy." Alex Job is one of the few exceptions. A fierce competitor with a quiet demeanor, his team has returned to the series he left his mark on. As 2010 rolls on, there's no question that Alex Job Racing is back.
ec: One of the popular misconceptions is that it's easy to go racing full time. Motorsport glamour in the U.S. is focused on NASCAR and Indy, and there have been few long-term sports car race teams since the postwar era. You and Holly started AJR in 1988 as a full-time venture. What made you feel you could make it when history has shown otherwise?
AJ: After spending 20 years in the car business and racing on and off I wanted a change, so I decided to give it a try. It started in my two-car garage at home so the overhead was very low. I built a new Fabcar tube frame car in that garage to see if I could make a go of it; if it didn't work I could go back to the car business. I felt that there was a market for Porsche 911 racecars in IMSA since almost all of them were gone by the late '80s. I felt that they could still be competitive if done differently. My intention was to do only racecars, no street cars. By the second year I moved to a 1,500 sq. ft. rental warehouse I shared with someone else. Within a year I had the warehouse to myself. That shop grew to 5,700 sq. ft. by the end of 2000. Now we have 17,000 to operate from.
ec: It's a long way from a two-car garage to a 17,000 sq. ft. building solely for the race team. Is that the price you have to pay to be competitive?
AJ: If you are to have a top-level professional race program you have to have a professional race shop. You need to have the room and equipment to do the program correctly. After all those years renting, I decided it was smarter to own. I was able to buy an acre-and-a-half lot and design and build my own shop. All this took place in 2000 while running the full ALMS season, which included two races in Europe as well as Le Mans. It was a very busy year. One that almost killed me, but in the end it was worth it.
ec: AJR's focus has always been Porsche. Why, and were there ever any other considerations?
AJ: My love has always been Porsche. It started when my father purchased his first, a 912, in 1966. We joined the local PCA and did some rallies together. He also did some autocrosses and that led me to start autocrossing in the late '60s. That was the beginning of my driving career. In 1990 AJR was the only Porsche in the Daytona 24 hour race. We led for six hours and finished second. I like to think that Porsche took notice and started to think about building 911 racecars for sale again. By 1993, Porsche was again producing a 911 RSR. They've been a winning factor in GT racing ever since returning with customer cars.
ec: Your big breakthrough year really looked like 1999. As an independent you won the GT class at Daytona, and then Sebring. After Le Mans the factory came calling and loaned you the new 996 GT3-R. A bigger car, water motor, and no development time to acclimate. How did all this come about?
AJ: In 1998 and 1999 I had a customer named Darrel Havens. He made a two-year commitment to me and it was a great one. He gave me the financial resources to become a consistently winning team. And win we did, including beating the factory BMW team PTG. This was with the aircooled RSR. After Le Mans, Porsche made one of the two 996 GT3-Rs available to us for the second half of the ALMS season. Roland Kussmaul from Porsche came out to help us. We did a lot of development with that car.