Interview - Cole Scrogham - G&W And Picchio At Daytona and Beyond

Gary Horrocks caught up with Cole Scrogham to find out what really happened to the Picchio DP2 BMW at the Rolex 24 – and to delve into plans for the balance of the year.

What were your general impressions from the 2003 running of the Rolex at Daytona?“The most competitive 24hr race in history. Any car that entered the race had a legitimate shot at the overall win, which is unheard of since the days of the 550 Spyders at LeMans. There was no team there without a shot, and congratulations to the Racer’s Group, they ran with no problems and had the dream finish.”

Did the lower than usual turnout, car wise, surprise you?

“In some ways yes, I thought that more teams would realize that the overall win at Daytona was within their grasp and want to give it a shot…especially knowing that the Daytona Prototypes would be questionable in terms of their longevity. We knew that a podium finish in the Daytona Prototype class was within our reach, no matter the circumstances, if we could just tough it out - and that is just what we did.

“There were several factors this year, I think that that general perception of the Europeans was that Daytona was in some way off limits to them in the GT cars, and were scared away by the newness of the top class. There is also a perception that the new class is not going to work, so the teams that usually participate either have not bought into the concept yet, or are waiting to see if the new cars are for real - and is Grand-Am going to do whatever it takes to see this through?“The Daytona Prototypes will have to be built into a successful program; this will take time and perseverance. Ultimately, I believe in the concept, we will just have to see where the long term takes us.”

With all the problems, were you surprised to finish on the DP podium?

“Not at all. Daytona is all about just hanging around to the finish, waking up the next morning to see if you have anything to race with to the end. With all of the setbacks we had during the week, we were happy enough with the result, but our ultimate goal is to win races with the Picchio DP2 and provide a marketable program to sell, service and sponsor the cars.”

You had some bodywork problems. Was this all due to the improper latching of the door, which caused the rear bodywork to come off, or was this something that was waiting to happen?

“Actually, we thought that to be the case, but the end result was a self-inflicted wound. This car has an advantage in top speed over the other entries, so we decided to take maximum advantage of the top speed. To do this, we let the rear of the car drop, Winston Cup style, to keep the wing out of the air and maximize the speed. In doing this, we allowed the rear ride height to drop so low in the banking that the right rear of the car literally bottomed, and the bodywork forced the door open. When the door opens, the rear deck becomes a big parachute. We only found out what was happening after it was too late: the chassis and side pods are so sturdy that they showed relatively little abrasion and the drivers assumed the bottoming they heard was from the nose of the car. So we learned another lesson that weekend the hard way.”

What other issues did you fight during the race?

“The good news for us was that during the entire week we had but one mechanical failure - the left front upright was replaced during one of the stops as the wheel nut galled on the threads. The other issues were mostly driver induced, two incidents that led to lengthy repairs to the nose and crash box area. We did have an overheating issue in the engine control unit early on, an axle boot leaked grease and had to be replaced, and the fuel fill mechanism stuck during one of the stops and had to be replaced. All of these items were purchased from outside vendors and typical of the glitches that make 24 hour races a challenge. The only other issue we had was that all of the guys were just so tired, they literally pulled an all-nighter once we took the car out of the track to work on it on Friday, before the race start.”

You started off slow, but came on as the race progressed. How well could you have done with out those problems?

“Won the race easily. But that is why they run the race, it is not to the swift. The old adage goes, slow and steady wins the race, unless you are racing fast and steady.

“We ran the third fastest race lap, in the middle of the night, on medium compound tires. I think we have something for them when we come back here. The biggest issue to overcome now is funding. We have support from USI Insurance and Financial Services and the Valley Group, and are looking for more partners in this area.”

The race became somewhat of an extended test session for you. What did you learn?

“I’d rather keep that to myself for now. Let’s just say we have some areas of significant improvement that we hope to implement in the near future.”

What is the status of the Maserati powered Picchio?

“The program is progressing and it looks like things are coming together, but I can't discuss the details of the relationship right now. It all boils down to presenting a finished product that will represent the manufacturer in a positive way. That will take more time.”

Will we be seeing the SRPII Picchio again?

“The Roadster is scheduled to run the season with Steve and Danny Marshall and Shawn Bayliff sharing the driving duties.”

What are your plans for the remainder of the year (sponsorship and drivers)? And does the low entry total for Miami concern you at all, or is this something that should be expected with all of the rule changes that Grand Am has instituted this year?

“I would say that Sebring has more to do with the turnout than anything else, although Homestead and Phoenix tend to be a bit light from past experience anyway. But I am of course concerned with the low turnout. I keep hoping that Grand Am is going to help subsidize some of the racing until the new rules stabilize the field, but so far the IRL approach is not happening. Until there are enough cars that are accepted as mainstream and can be raced without third world country budgets, the turnout is going to be low in my opinion. The teams cannot continue to finance the development of the series.

“We have a contract with Darren Law to run all of the races that G&W is involved with in 2003. He is capable of running the short races (250 miles is just half of a proper Winston Cup car, right?) by himself or with a suitable co-driver, and we will be looking for partners with Darren at the longer venues. Our cooperation with USI Insurance and Financial Services means that we have, for the first time, a genuine opportunity for businesses or individuals to get their name out and enjoy the sport, while taking no money out of their pockets. The only requirement is to do business with USI and they will use the normal commissions to fund the team. It is a great opportunity.”

Will Woody make a comeback?

“No. Woody was not performing up to his potential so he has been given the axe.”

Contents Copyright © All Rights Reserved.