Grand Am – Barber Motorsports Park
Interview With JC France

dailysportscar.comThis is the first part of multiple interviews with the many drivers at Barber Park this week. My plan is to allow the fans of the Rolex series, to get to know the drivers a little more than what is displayed on television or the media guides.
Ken May

After a long day of sharing driving duties with Hurley Haywood and the team, and setting a fast lap of 1.26.536, I caught up with JC France in the Brumos paddock area late in the afternoon. Jackie Johnson, Public Relations, had arranged some time to be set aside for me to meet JC before he had to take off and visit children in a local hospital. I proceeded to sit down in a golf cart next to JC……….

KM: JC, I appreciate you taking some time out of your hectic preparation for the Barber 250 at The Park. Looks like you were having a lot of fun out there……How would you describe the track?
JC: Love it! The track is very smooth and just a lot of fun to drive. There are some very technical parts to it and we will have to work hard.

KM: Let’s talk first about what you would be doing today if you were not racing, what is a typical non race day like?
JC: I love to ride my bikes…I have several Harleys, but if not on one of them, most likely on either my 29’ or 45’ boat. April (wife) and I love to go sailing and fishing.

KM: Well, considering this is race week though, during a race day, how does that day unfold?
JC: Normally I get up very early, unless it is a night race. I try to sleep in a little longer if it is a night race, like our race last week in Phoenix, but normally, get in fairly early. Typically, there is an early morning drivers meeting, then there is time meeting with our sponsors and GARRA. There is also an autograph session usually planned and a few interviews….pretty hectic.

dailysportscar.comKM: What was the decision process to go racing in the Daytona Prototype class?
JC: The formula is exciting. Rules are designed to create close racing and that no one car has a distinct advantage over the others.

KM (interrupting): Ya, but if you win this week, that is three in a row….distinct advantage?
JC (Laughing): We will have to see…seriously, the concept is right. No one (driver) wants to go to the track and feel as if they have no chance in winning. If I felt that way, I would not want to race. This series, the rules, will ensure that on any given day, any team has the chance of winning.

KM: Although you did not win at Daytona this year, it was a very good showing..What did the team learn from that week of racing?
JC: A LOT! Especially speaking for myself….my learning is on-going. Also, Scott Goodyear was a tremendous asset to our team. The success we have had since Daytona has a lot to do with how we all work well together to improve.

KM: Having Hurley Haywood as a team mate….that has to be a huge advantage for this team.
JC: Most definitely. Hurley is an invaluable asset to this team, his knowledge of the car and set up, as well as his driving ability is awesome. He knows this car and can explain what is going well and not so well.

KM: What improvements have been made to the car since Daytona?
JC: Getting fresher air to the driver. Did you notice the slits in the roof? (JC Pointing to the car) We measured the inside car temperature at around 160 degrees!

KM: Has this been the biggest hurdle to overcome?
JC. Yes, the temperature in the cockpit is extreme. It was very, very bad at Homestead.

KM: Although I didn’t get to see the race (live or on tape) I did see the picture of you and Hurley celebrating right after taking the checker….man, yours and Hurley’s faces were beat red!
JC: Ya, that was really, really bad. In fact, when I got out of the car my eyesight was blurring and I was in pretty bad shape. The race could not have ended soon enough for me…the heat inside the car was brutal..

KM: I asked this same question to Barry McSherry from Multimatic…if you could have GARRA look at one current regulation for possible change in 2004, what would that be?
JC: Nothing really – need to keep the rules consistent. I cannot really think of anything.

KM: Come on, how about some more speed?
JC (Laughing): Well………….

KM: Are you aware of the on-going “feud” between the two camps of sportscar racing in North America?
JC (Smiling): Ya, I hear and read some of the stuff……..

KM: (interrupting) Read? Do you read some of the forums on the web?
JC: (Laughing loudly): Sure do, and so does Hurley…he will call or ask me if I have read some of the stuff….we just laugh and can’t believe some of things we see…….

KM: Kinda of silly huh? Is it just the fans being “fanatics”, or does this passion carry over to drivers, teams, and owners?
JC: Really just the fans….each series has their own direction and they are different.

KM: OK, fair enough, but if it was possible, would you like to be able to race DPs on other circuits outside of the US? Le Mans? Spa?
JC: Sure, that would be great.

KM: Good to hear JC, but for now, all attention is on Barber Park….
JC: You bet…it is going to be a wild race!

KM: Because of the Cup Cars?
JC: Not just them, but they do make the race interesting….

KM: Because of the closing speeds?
JC: While yes, the closing speeds are greater, not really a major issue, as long as everyone is paying attention.

KM: Do the Cup Cars play nicely with the ‘Big ‘Boys’ and move over when approached?
JC: Ya, for the most part…maybe one or two that have caused some problems.
(JC mentions one car in particular)

KM: Ok, back to the track….what is the most difficult corner for you to work?
JC: That’s easy…the “kink”…you can lose a lot of time there if you are not on the right line and if there is any traffic, you can lose even more time!
(I note to JC that of the 4 drivers I had interviewed today, all mentioned the kink being the most difficult corner)

dailysportscar.comKM: How about the car set-up? I am sure you are using a different set-up from Phoenix….
JC (Laughing): Hell, we are using a different set-up between sessions .. We are adjusting it now, (JC points over to the car) …trying to make the set up stiffer.

At this time, cracks of thunder can be heard and it starts to rain…..As Jackie walks over to see if we can wrap it up, I have just one more question for JC:

KM: What one ‘annoying’ question do you hear, from either fans, reporters, or fans acting like reporters (JC laughs at this one) most often?
JC: Easy, “Why don’t I race NASCAR?” The question is usually followed with some comment about my last name….( I note no smile on JC’s face as he is very serious)

KM: Well? The answer is?
JC: Because I love sportscar racing! The technical aspects, the road courses, just everything about it.

KM: Oops, sorry JC, I lied, one more question then….Would you like to drive for a NASCAR team on their road courses?
JC: Sure, like Boris? You bet…would love to.

With that, I shake JC’s hand one last time and watch as he is whisked away for another obligation….to visit children in a local hospital.

Although this was the first time I have ever spoken to JC at this length (spoke to him briefly after his stints ), I walked away with the feeling he talked to me as if he knew me for some time…..then wondered, damn, has he read some of my posts?


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