ec: A new team and a new season-- the year was strange enough and you had to go through the Year of Learning Dangerously. That about right?
JVO: Having been on the ground floor at Flying Lizard Motorsports, I was very aware of the challenges we faced at Extreme Speed Motorsports as a start-up. The danger in my opinion was looking like fools, which is easier to do now than ever because of the competition. Luckily, we were always fast. When you’re fast it’s hard to look foolish, regardless of how you finish.
ec: You have run a BMW, made a name for yourself in the Porsche GT3 and rounded out the rsum with the Ferrari 430. Impressions on the strengths and weaknesses compared to the Porsche?
JVO: Cars take on the personality of the people who design and build them. Porsche is a fine car, BMW is a fine car, and Ferrari is a fine car. What separates the Ferrari is its soulits eagerness to run and its unapologetic stance on the things it isn’t good at. From the driver’s standpoint, the Ferrari does the job around a racetrack in a more gratifying way. It’s a lovely machine to work with at the limit.
ec: You are part of a highly visible team with a front-line sponsor with considerable exposure and coverage. There were a number of occasions where you were right there with the established factory entries, a fast lap here and there, always threatening but not quite there at the end. Is this a case of a new team and the learning curve?
JVO: Building a team to compete in the ALMS, in GT, is a monumental task, and Scott Sharp did a great job of managing the process. There are so many moving pieces, good people that have to be found and hired, good equipment that needs to be found and bought. Nobody on our team had any experience with Ferraristhe drivers, our engineer Steve Challis (who had never worked on a GT car), and all but two of the mechanics. Putting all of these pieces together for a club race would be hard enough, let alone a full season in one of the most competitive sports car series in the world. We were up against established manufacturer-supported teams like Risi, Corvette and Flying Lizard, which have all won championships in the ALMS. On balance I thought we faired well; we only had one DNF when an oil fitting broke at Sebring, we started on the front row twice, nobody had more fastest race laps, and we finished on the podium, on the lead lap five seconds down, in the second longest and hardest race of the season behind Sebring. We got better as a team with each outing. Are we happy? Of course not.
ec: What’s the scenario for you in 2011?
JVO: I’ll continue to drive in circles.
ec: Looking back at the 2010 ALMS season, what were the highs, the lows, the weird and the truly memorable?
JVO: Highpassing every front-running car at Road America. LOWhaving to pass most of the front-running cars at Road America for a second time because of an ill-timed pit stop. Weirdthe hallucinations I had at Lime Rock when it was 140 degrees inside the car. I started to wonder when they put a left-hand corner off of no-name straight. I’ve never been so hot in my life. Memorablequalifying on the front row at Laguna Seca and being surprised by my kids when I got out of the car.