TIME TO REFLECT
TAG Heuer has long been one of the Iconic
brands associated with motorsports, and
I’ve enjoyed my partnership with them,
now in its third year. Racing is all about
time. Who has the quickest lap time?
How long until I need to pit? How far am
I down? How much of a lead do I have?
Time is a precious commodity that once
wasted can never be recovered.
This past season, time became even
more of a theme. Pat Long, Jim Jordan and
I joked that no matter where we were in the
world, we lived in three distinct time zones.
Time Zone No. 1 was Porsche Time.
In the Porsche Time Zone, if an
appointment was supposed to start at
12:00, you needed to be ready by 11: 50 at
the latest, because being only 10 minutes
early was barely acceptable. But we are
Americans after all, and can’t be expected
to match the Germans when it comes to
obsessive compulsive promptness.
Time Zone No. 2, TAG Heuer time is the
most amazing, at least in Europe. Before
the Nurburgring round of the FIA World
Endurance Championship, I was invited to
visit the watch factory and meet the
employees. Since I’m used to Porsche time,
I was in the lobby of the hotel early for our
9 A.M. pickup. Jim and I were waiting and
we joked that the TAG Heuer driver was
going to be late. Then, at exactly 9:00.00,
the Porsche Panamera rolled up to the
front door! Not one second early; not one
second late. TAG Heuer time is the exact
time, which I guess is the right time zone
for the finest watchmakers in the world.
Time Zone No. 3, for me at least, is
Hollywood time. Hollywood time is
whenever. Or never. Or maybe. It might
actually be all three at once. It was
refreshing that during the season I did
not have to deal with Hollywood time.
Well, at least until I started my next movie
project right before the season ended...
It’s been rewarding to take some time
to reflect upon last season. I was actually
on the podium at the two most important
24 Hour races in the world – the Daytona
24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans –
and I was able to win a WEC race at Fuji.
Was it a perfect season? No. I still keep
reflecting on my night stint at Circuit of
The Americas, which had to be the low
point of the season. I struggled at night
and we didn’t win a race we could have
won. But I also think that I took that
result, and the feelings I had, as
motivation for a better result at Fuji next
time out. Who knows, we might not have
won at Fuji if I’d done better at COTA? I
never want to feel that disappointment I
felt at COTA again, but being human I
probably will. In the end, I guess it’s all
part of the process of the competition,
both within my head and on the track.
The drivers I shared a car with were
consistently amazing. Marco Seefried and
Pat were a joy to work with. They were so
different, but each brought their unique
set of talents to the team. I love endurance
racing for this reason – all three drivers
have a role and it takes a great race by all
three in order to win. I want to recognize
our engineer Jacque one more time for
his hard work in keeping us focused and
on the right priorities, too.
The end of the season also made me
take time to figure out my future. There
was a heavy toll taken on my family this
past year while I competed in the WEC.
My three kids are all at an age where they
need a father’s attention and guidance.
They are a little too young to really enjoy
the track. I also know that an experience
I miss with them now will be lost forever.
So I’ve made the decision to walk away,
at least from full-time driving. The timing
THE TIMING JUST SEEMS RIGHT...
just seems exactly right, in the Heuer way.
Not too soon, not too late. I’m still going to
be involved with Dempsey Proton Racing in
the WEC, where the No. 77 car will compete
in the GTE-Pro Class. I’ll attend when
possible, and I know when Silverstone
comes around I’ll miss it very much.
Will I race again? At this moment I
can’t say for sure. I’m very comfortable
with my decision to walk away from
competitive driving, although I hope to
sneak away for a test day or two to keep
my skills up. It really is time in my life to
put my family first, so I guess any racing
would depend upon its impact on my kids.
“Will I race again? At this
moment I can’t say for sure.
I’m very comfortable with my
decision to walk away”
No matter what, I will be keeping track of
the team’s progress and I’m excited that
Pat Long will be racing in the sister car,
along with my friend, Khaled Al Qubaisi,
and David Hansen.
I plan to continue this column. RACER
magazine has decided that I can stay
connected to motorsports by continuing
to share my experiences and
observations. Often when competing in a
series you’re prohibited from saying how
you really feel, but now that I’m not
racing I won’t have such limits.
Christian Reid and the Proton squad
were amazing. In three Le Mans 24 hours
and also a full WEC season, there was
never a DNF with my car. Thanks so much
to the whole team for this amazing result.
Finally, let me take a moment to thank
all my friends at Porsche. The Porsche
team has welcomed me and supported
me in so many different ways, and the
success I had in 2015 would not have
been possible without their help. When
I shared with them my desire to stay on
as a team owner, but not driving, they
took a deep breath and then figured out
a way to make it work.