You both made the switch from
open-wheel to sports cars early in your
careers. That’s commonplace today, but
what was it like at a time when sports cars
were still considered an old man’s game?
LUCAS LUHR For me, it was the only
option. Basically, after a year of Formula 3,
we ran out of money. And that’s why my
open-wheel career was over. But within
two months Porsche called about GT cars
and I said, “Yeah, I’m in.” If I look back over
the years now, I used to get so worried
that I hadn’t had a Formula 1 career. For
sure it would have been nice, but now I
look and think, what is the point? You
have to be realistic and say, hey, it’s over
and I need to go on with my life.
OLIVER GAVIN I had a somewhat similar
experience. I had many years trying to
make it in single-seaters and I won the
British F3 Championship in ’ 95. Then I had
a season in the ITC [the short-lived,
international version of DTM], and I was
trying to still make it in Formula 3000. The
guy I’d driven for in F3, Peter Briggs, had
been saying to me for a couple of years
that I could make a career in driving
racecars and make money at it, but if I kept
hanging on and trying to get to F1, it wasn’t
going to happen; I’d get passed over and
the opportunities weren’t going to come
along. It was quite a big motivation to
then come over to the U.S. and find a
sports car opportunity over here.
It all started in a Lola at Homestead at
a Grand-Am race. Then I drove with Jon
Field for a couple of years, and then I
ended up getting the drive with Corvette.
But, yeah, it took a little bit of time for it
to sink in and for me to accept that it
wasn’t going to happen for me in F1.
Sports car racing’s evolved a lot; a young
guy with only sprint racing experience was
once considered a liability. Was it a struggle
to be accepted for what you could bring?
LL When I first came to the U.S. with
Porsche in 2000, there was still this
thought that maybe he’s quick, but he’s a
young guy, a sprint driver, so we don’t
really want him. The teams wanted an
older guy, someone more calm. So
“Since I started in sports cars
there’s been a new perception
– people started realizing that
even young kids can be very
good endurance drivers”
Safe pair of hands...
Between 1997 and
’ 99, Oliver Gavin was
the driver of the
Formula 1 Safety Car.
GAVIN AND LUHR
Lucas Luhr’s Muscle Milk Racing HPD
ARX-03a LMP1 leads the ALMS field at
the start of the 2013 Grand Prix of
Baltimore. For P1 drivers, the opening
laps are the calm before the storm.
Slicing through endless GT traffic is
when the real fun begins...