ec: From the time that the tubs were delivered from Sweden, how long did it take for you to have a completed car for your first test session, and where was it held?
JH: The first test session was done at Pikes Peak International Raceway, and we did that maybe two weeks before Sebring in 2008. We were working on the cars for almost a year but also were competing with the Porsches, so yes it was a dual program.
ec: Anyone at Porsche know that?
JH: Not until the end of 2008, they kind of figured that out.
ec: A lot of times a driver will tell you or an engineer when a car is right, meaning that if it’s a pig from the start it’s going to be a pig for the season. Some subscribe to that, some don’t; but was the overall feeling within the team, yourself and the drivers that you had a very good car from the start?
JH: I think so, we had a good car and what we needed to do was keep the car on track, keep the car doing laps in the time frame while still in development. Volvo doesn’t make a transmission that we could put in this car so we had to get transmissions made. And it took several suppliers to get what we needed for the S60. For 2009, we had no failures in that area.
ec: Volvo is not thought of as a performance automobile and you beat some of the most talented drivers in the challenge in an extremely competitive series. What does it say or what does it mean in terms of personal satisfaction? This must feel so much better than, say, having run a Cadillac or a Porsche where you had limited input. This is really an individual effort of David versus Goliath where you can point to this and say that we beat them with something we developed basically on our own.
JH: I think there is a lot of satisfaction in that. I remember one time in the paddock some of the Volvo executives were there and we had been lining the cars up in the pre-grid, all these Corvettes, Vipers, Porsches and the two Volvos and I’m standing there with these executives. This is truly a royal challenge for Volvo, these cars have been custom built and we have been able to beat these guys. It’s a lot of satisfaction and it’s a tremendous amount of work. We’d be at the track at 3 in the morning, 4 in the morning, swapping motors, swapping transmissions. We did a lot of things in the off-season to improve the car. It wasn’t like we didn’t have problems in 2009. Andy had four DNF’s during that season.
ec: What were the causes?
JH: They were varied causes. They had an exhaust manifold break on one car and we had a cooler break, a water cooler—the weld broke on the little transfer tank. A harmonic vibration issue, a bolt came loose in the bellhousing that took out the crankshaft sensor one time.
ec: A basic question but an honest one, why do you race?
JH: What gets me most excited and one of the things that keeps me going is when you are at a race and you see two Volvos at the front, leading the pack, leading the Vipers, leading the Vettes, leading the Porsches, that is just the coolest thing in the world. That’s what does it for me.