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Jim Lowe – JLowe Racing – 48th Running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, 2010

In 2007, JLowe Racing stood on the podium at Daytona with a third place finish in GT Class. This was their second running at Daytona, a race considered to be one of the most hotly contested races in the world. They say to win at Daytona takes preparation, more preparation, determination and a lot of luck. Others say to start and finish at Daytona in itself is a victory. Yet, there can be no denying that standing on the podium after the toughest 24 hour battle (possibly of your life) is a feeling like no other.

Here we are three years later at the 2010 Rolex 24 hours at Daytona as Dr. Jim Lowe, along with good friend and co-driver Jim Pace, returning teammate Tim Sugden, Grand-Am Veteran Eric Lux and Daytona newcomer James Walker are on the quest again for a step on the podium. “We are here because we are serious,” were the words uttered by Jim Lowe in 2007 and no doubt the mindset is unchanged.

How does the fire in the belly to compete and win begin? Not every driver on the circuit was fortunate to have the flame ignited in the womb, as did Eric Lux. His parents were already actively racing before he was born and Eric will tell you his mom was several months pregnant with him when she was racing on the track. Regardless of how or when someone becomes exposed to road racing, once bitten, it can be a tough infection to cure.

Getting started
Jim Lowe first attended the Jim Russell Driving School in Sonoma, California in 1999. He was able to convince his wife to incorporate a week of race school with a week in the beautiful Sonoma Valley wine country. Successfully completing the beginner and advanced race school, Jim was eager to participate in a full race series. After two years with the Russell School, Jim made the switch to run with Skip Barber at Watkins Glen and Daytona International Speedway until 2005. A turning point came for Lowe in 2004, when Jim Pace, twice winner at Daytona and Sebring, became Lowe’s instructor and coach, and Lowe was also hearing first-hand about Daytona from friends who had participated earlier that year. Over the following year, the sparks ignited. Jim Lowe began bugging Jim Pace, “Hey, someday I want to do Daytona!” It was at first, what Jim called a “pie-in-the-sky dream. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do it.” The serious discussion between Lowe and Pace occurred at Mid-Ohio in September 2005. This was right around the time Hurricane Katrina was ripping through New Orleans and through Jim Pace’s home in Mississippi. His family was having their own problems back home and Jim Lowe was bugging him about Daytona. Finally Pace says, “Okay! We will go and test some cars and see how you like it before we go to Rolex. Maybe we will go to Rolex in 2007. First, let’s give you a year of testing.” Up until this point, Lowe had never raced in a sports car; his competition experience was limited to Skip Barber open-wheel cars. Effort was made to test with The Racers Group the day after Thanksgiving and one day in December, but plans kept falling through for a variety of reasons. Finally Jim Lowe was ready to give up when a call-back from Pace came with some good news. “Well, I talked to Kevin Buckler and he has a car for us at the Rolex in January (2006) if you wanted to run.”
“We haven’t done any testing!” Lowe responded. “And I’ve never been in a GT car!”
Jim Pace calmly reassured him, “Don’t worry, you’ll be all right!”

Test days were held on January 3rd through 5th and Jim Lowe was there behind the wheel of a Porsche GT3 for the very first time, and as Jim will tell you, “it showed!” Jim continued, “It was an incredible experience to take that big step up, and the next thing you know, we ran the 24 hours and we finished! I did wreck the car in my first stint, but the crew put it back together for us and we kept running. We finished 19th in class and I asked, “How many more Grand-Am events can we do?”” Participation at Daytona in 2006 was only supposed to a “one and done - The adventure of a lifetime.” The team, JLowe Racing was formed right after that first 24 hour race. They ran six events that year with three top-ten finishes and never looked back.

Goal for 2010 Race Season
Now in 2010, JLowe Racing competed in their 5th 24 Hours at Daytona. The goal is to run their first full Grand-Am season for 2010 and, having a new partnership with Siemans Gigaset, there is the opportunity to do that. GigasetVoices, JLowe Racing and Enviro Packaging Solutions are teaming up to support two great endeavors for the 2010 race season: “ThinkFirst” – National Injury Prevention Foundation, and the environment. For every $10 donation made toward “ThinkFirst” a tree planting kit will be sent to the donor to help improve the environment. The more we can do with that the better.

“ThinkFirst” is the main charity foundation for the prevention of brain and spinal injury. The program is centered on educating school age children to make safe choices: To “think first” before you dive into a pool; See how deep the water is first. Think first before you get in the car with a drunk driver. Dr. Jim Lowe, Neurosurgeon for the past 20 years, relates that many of his patients “would love to have that split second of their life back where they could rethink a bad decision that put them into life threatening condition. The best way to treat brain or spinal injury is to not have it happen at all.” This is the principal of the foundation. The foundation is very involved with the grade through high school level offering educational programs, and they are closely tied in with the Neurosurgical society. The purpose is to contact and educate kids as early as possible so they don’t have to learn the hard way.

Impressions from Jim Lowe

What is your impression of the team you have assembled after just a few days of working together?
The mechanics actually listen to me, sometimes! We have the best crew on the property. It comes from the top with Roger Reis. Roger has been with me for every Rolex I’ve done. He can’t seem to get away from me. This race is all about the way you prepare the car and the way the team goes about working together for long a period of time. It is not a two and a half hour sprint race. And it is not about, ‘can you take two-tenths off a lap time in qualifying to put yourself in a good position’. This is all about making sure the car keeps running, the drivers don’t doing anything to interfere with that, and the crew has to be very flexible and ready on the fly to make sure those things can happen, no matter what gets thrown at them. If it starts hailing in the middle of the race, we have to be able to handle it. And if something is not right, if you lose a gear, you have to be able to anticipate it and act, rather than react. These guys are experienced and have been working together for a long time. They are good. I’d match them player for player against any crew on the property. It’s about assembling the right people and then letting them do what they are very good at.

What is your impression of the immense Porsche driver talent gathered here this weekend?
You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who hasn’t won some sort of Porsche title. Two guys I’ve gotten to know better over the past year are Pat Long and Wolf Henzler. I’ve known ‘who’ they are from many years of racing, and I’d like to say I’ve raced against Wolf for many years, but it’s not really me racing against him. He has always been up front somewhere. But as I’ve spoken with them more often, you realize that they are just very genuine, good guys; they are helpful and they treat me like a colleague, which is really a privilege.

What are some of your challenges as team owner/driver?
Budgeting time! As a team owner I can’t drive all the time, although I need to drive in order to stay sharp. Yet, when something happens or someone needs something, it becomes a matter of choosing what to ignore and what to delegate to others. Even this weekend, people approach me with issues that I don’t have the band-width to deal with it right now. All the mental space you have available is occupied. It becomes a matter of how you assign it so that it does get handled properly, and on time. The more I’m forced to do it, the better I get at it. And if you don’t do it well, you’re wasting your time.

The thing you love most about racing:

Racing demands that you focus 100%. It truly has a cleansing effect where you don’t worry about another damn thing in the world, except driving better and faster in that lap, in that turn, against that guy who is in front of, or behind you. Everything else disappears. You don’t think about your mortgage application; you don’t think about the problems you have in running your business or how your portfolio is doing. Maybe that sounds selfish, but it is a tremendous buzz to be so intensely involved in something, even if it is for a short period of time. You don’t get it anywhere else. Everywhere else you have distractions, either with cell phones or somebody wants something from you. When you get into a race car you have the ultimate excuse to say, “Leave me alone. I’m trying to brake later.” That’s exactly the way it is. And when you do brake later or when you look down while you are practicing or testing and you just clicked off a faster lap, or you finally get past that guy you’ve been following for twenty minutes, it gives you such a buzz. It’s a big thrill! I’m 46 years old and what a great feeling to get up in the morning and be excited about that! It’s not typical for everyone. [Except for those who are here.] That’s just it. It’s a self-selected population. And you have to embrace that feeling! By the time I got to my second Rolex, I was getting up the morning before the race and I was nauseated. I was so nervous. I realized I had butterflies! What 40 year old guy gets to have that feeling? It’s like when you were 15 and had your first football game in high school. If I didn’t have this, I’d be home worrying if I set the VCR right. So it’s a real privilege to have that feeling. It’s not an uncomfortable feeling; it is one that you look forward to.

Any plans to race in Europe?
Yes, actually Tim Sugden has been talking to me about doing some GT racing or something else there and of course the ultimate evolution of this dream would be to go to LeMans. Everyone I’ve talked to who has done LeMans has just said what an amazing event it is. To go there at all is an accomplishment. To go there and be successful sounds like it is like a top-of-the-world thing. There is nothing after that but to climb Mt. Everest.

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Thanks for writing the article. Jim Pace was my instructor for the Skip Barber Three Day Race School in '06. He was fantastic. A great coach and a truly nice guy. I believe the JLowe Porsche had a mechanical failure in this year's race, but I expect they will get things sorted for the season. Good luck to the team.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for writing the article. Jim Pace was my instructor for the Skip Barber Three Day Race School in '06. He was fantastic. A great coach and a truly nice guy. I believe the JLowe Porsche had a mechanical failure in this year's race, but I expect they will get things sorted for the season. Good luck to the team.
glad you liked it.. i know i kinda left things in mid air..
yes about 6 hours in and James Walker completing two or three laps, the piston failed (i believe).. everyone was disappointed. Eric started the #64 from 17th and moved it up to P2.. he was amazing! He drove like a man on a mission all during his stint. Tim Sugden kept it in a good position during his time at the wheel and everyone was anticipating a solid result.

I saw Lowe and Pace together after the car retired and they were incredibly disappointed as anyone would expect.

Lowe assured me they will be back.

if you can, come out to the track this season. Jim Pace would be thrilled to see you!

cheers.
 

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Sounds good. I'll look for you. Does Zone 1 or another PCA group sponsor the Corral. I'll be in an '08 Guards Red Cayman S.
 

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Sounds good. I'll look for you. Does Zone 1 or another PCA group sponsor the Corral. I'll be in an '08 Guards Red Cayman S.
Zone 1, organized by Botho vonBose will be running it again. i just received the flyer to publish in the next issue of the Post... which NY Region PCA do you belong to?

this is a great race.. not too crowded and i recall the HSR series will be there also.. (Cayman Interseries and Historics Sportscar Race series.. Historic Sportscar Racing ) - have to check the email again to make sure..

HSR is having their season opener this weekend at Sebring and a little birdie called me late yesterday,.. "Hey, do you know what's here?"
"um, a 959 with 'GoJACI' tags?"
"No.. a Schuppan 962CR.. do you know what that is?"
i searched my memory banks, and, at that ungodly hour, could only think of the Rothmanns 962.

"no?! you should google it.. you'll like it."

so, mr. clarkbar, do you know what a schuppan 962CR is?

photos to follow.... :picsplz:

:banana:
 

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I believe the Schuppan 962 is a street legal 962. I remember reading about in Autoweek in the ~ mid 90's? Anyway, that would be very cool to see. I'm a member of the Finger Lakes region, part of Zone1. I'm new to Porsche Club so, your info helps.

BTW - I expect you will see Scott Welliver's Brumos liveried Cayman Interseries car. He is a good friend. I got a ride in his car last fall at the Glen. What a great ride. Here are some photos...



Have fun at Sebring and tell him Mark Clark said hello!
 
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