John Anderson: In his own words It’s hard to imagine someone with John Anderson’s pedigree being a “new kid on the block.” Yet a year ago, that’s exactly what Anderson – and a great majority of de Ferran Motorsports – felt like prior to its first Series race. Now not only is Anderson back at Miller Motorsports Park for the team’s one-year anniversary of a successful debut but the de Ferran crew also is coming off its first Series victory at Long Beach with Acura’s ARX-02a prototype. Anderson, a former championship-winning team manager with Dario Franchitti and Andretti Green Racing, shares some insight.
Question: How rapidly has the first year with de Ferran Motorsports gone since the debut last year at Utah?
Answer: Has it only been a year? (Laughs) The first year has passed so quickly. Gil created the team and we were immediately off and running to start competing. We were pleased with the results we had in ’08 with the LMP2 program, but even before the conclusion of that season, we were deep into the development of the new Acura ARX-02a LMP1 car. It has been a bit of a whirlwind, but a really rewarding experience.
Q: Was it common knowledge that there might be a chance to move up to P1 when the program first began?
A: No, it was not common knowledge; but given the competitive nature of Acura’s racing program, it soon became clear that the next logical step was to advance to the top tier of prototype racing.
Q: What have been the one or two moments that have stood out over the first year?
A: There have been several. The first one that stands out in my mind is when we took delivery of the car in Brownsburg. We had the shop, we had the crew and drivers, and finally the car arrived from Chicago. Reality struck me then – we were a complete race team.
Another memorable moment would be our first event at Miller Motorsports Park. To be able to start in the front row and finish on the podium in our debut was indeed memorable.
Mosport 2008 – to be leading the race and then run out of fuel on the last lap was truly a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Long Beach 2009 definitely has to round out this list. To have been knocking on the door of a race win for so long and finally taking that checkered flag was really rewarding, especially within one year of team formation.
Q: What have you learned that you didn’t know in 2008, now that you are a year into your program?
A: It felt a little disjointed to be starting our season when everyone else had a couple races under their belt. Sports car racing was new to the majority of us. The competition in ’08 was terrific. We had a lot to learn with new procedures and regulations. We were fortunate that Series management and officials made the transition very agreeable.
Another interesting thing I learned was more personal - my experience in motor racing has always centered around open-wheel cars; you might say I was a bit of an open-wheel “snob” and I never thought I would enjoy sports car racing. However, I’ve learned that I really thrive on the technology and multiple levels of competition. This series is really second-to-none. I thoroughly enjoy it.
Q: What benefits has the addition of Robert Clarke as CEO brought over the first three races?
A: Robert obviously has a lot of racing experience. He brings another level of professionalism to our team. Having Robert join us shows Gil’s commitment to the present and future of de Ferran Motorsports.
Q: What are the emotions surrounding de Ferran Motorsports’ first return to a previously-raced track? What are some special insights and advantages that come along with this experience?
A: We have high expectations, but perhaps you should ask me this question again Sunday night after the race!
Q: After the long-awaited victory at Long Beach, what would it mean to have a repeat performance this weekend?
A: Obviously any win is memorable, but to have a second win follow our first would be magic. We can always find room for more trophies!
The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix from Miller Motorsports Park is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. MDT on Sunday, May 17. SPEED will broadcast the race starting at 10 p.m. EDT on the same day, and satellite radio subscribers to can listen to the race starting at 4 p.m. ET on Sirius 126 and XM 242. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing and Scoring will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com. You can also follow the Series on Twitter.
The race also will include the season-long MICHELIN® Green X® Challenge. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com or millermotorsportspark.com.