Pfaff Motorsports | GT3 Season Recap
Steve Bortolotti | Racing is not an easy sport, nor is it a sport for individuals. Racing is difficult; both mentally and physically, and if anyone thinks they can be successful in racing without a team; be my guest to try. When Jimmy Vervitas, manager of the Pfaff Motorsports team, was tasked with the tall order of bringing the entire operation in house, he was confident he had most of the personnel within his organization to get the job done. However, he knew that in order to compete for a championship in such a short season, we would require the help of an experienced engineer to ensure we hit the ground running.
Enter Joe LaJoie, the former 24hrs of Daytona winning technical director for Brumos Porsche. The man originally hired to be our engineer, quickly became the leader of our team, and the man solely responsible for making sure we all looked like we knew what we were doing the first couple times we headed to the track together as a race team. You see, our first test session in early May at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park wasn’t exactly productive on track. We turned a whopping 3 laps in our shiny new race car, froze our butts off, and spent most of the day soaked from head to toe. However, Joe being the great leader that he is ensured we got something out of the soggy test day. We ironed out each individual’s role within the team on a race weekend, and got more comfortable making setup adjustments on our brand new 991 Porsche racecar. Joe never skipped a beat all season for our race team, and never let the car hit the track unless it was exactly the way he wanted it to be, which usually meant it was perfect! Lessons learned from Joe would prove to go a long way when our race team was put to the test at 3-Rivers as Joe was unable to join us that weekend due to a commitment with another race team he worked for.
Enter Steve Bortolotti & Nick Harrison. Nick, an incredibly skilled apprentice technician at Pfaff Tuning, and Steve, a well-rounded do-it-yourself mechanic and salesperson at Pfaff Tuning. These were the men put in place by Jimmy Vervitas to ensure we didn’t have a mechanical DNF all season, and to learn as much as possible from Joe so we could fill the void at 3-Rivers while Joe was racing in Elkhart Lake. Steve & Nick did just that, giving Chris a car good enough to take pole position & the victory in race 1, and a very respectable 3rd place finish in race 2 with Chris nursing the car home after a punctured radiator. This was a character-building weekend for our young race team, where every person on the team was forced to step up, and go beyond their regular call of duty to ensure we stayed in the championship hunt. The fact that we had a successful weekend solidified the bond between us all not just colleagues, but as a motorsports family.
Mo Abdi, and Lindsay Rice shared the responsibility throughout the season as the backbone of our race team. They did the thankless jobs that someone on every team has to do, and they were the perfect set of hands in virtually every situation we encountered throughout the season. Case in point our disastrous weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto. After bumping a wall, and going for a slide in race 1 of the weekend, we had 4 severely flat-spotted tires on our #9 racecar that desperately needed to be changed. Chris stopped perfectly in our pit stall, and the boys went to work changing all four tires. Mo & Lindsay fed Steve & Nick the correct tire for each corner they were working on, and swiftly pulled the flat spotted tires well out of the way to ensure we had the fastest pit stop GT3 Cup Canada would see all season. We never practiced pit stops, however, they just instinctively reacted in the situation, and were the driving force behind such an incredibly fast pit stop for our team!
Last but not least we have Jimmy Vervitas & Chris Green. Jimmy, the mastermind behind building this incredible race team, and Chris, the man responsible for making us go fast, were both nothing short of spectacular all season. Jimmy led by example all season, never being shy to toss his title with the team to the side, and get his hands dirty if that’s what needed to get done. He was always the one to put everything into perspective, and helped to ensure we always learned from every new experience we encountered as a race team. Chris drove his heart out for us all season, and his hunger to win a championship only added to the motivation each individual on the team already had for success. He dug deep to find time in the car when the tires were worn, radiators were punctured, and bumpers were cracked to ensure the #9 Pfaff Castrol Motorsports entry was as far up in the field as it could be.
When given one word to describe the 2014 season, Chris Green used the term groundbreaking. I don’t know if there is a word more fitting to describe the season than that. Two wins, four poles, and second overall in the driver & team championships in your first season as a stand-alone, single-car race team in Porsche GT3 Cup racing is unheard of. But that is what the Pfaff Castrol Motorsports team was able to accomplish in 2014, and they grew not just as individuals, but instead as a race team.