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Hard to believe, 10 years with Phoenix Performance....

blacksheep-1

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Pretty incredible time, I was retired (From FD) about 10 days before I started my new career..
Little did I know when I went to the ROAR in 2011 to watch friend Bret Spaude run the Subaru that I would be here.
I'm not one to sit around so when I saw that they needed some help I pitched in (they had just let some guys go). I came back for the race and did the same, afterwards Joe Aquilante came up and asked what I was doing for the rest of the year. I was so proud of that, that I still have a copy of my first check from the factory Subaru team, SRRT/ Phoenix.
Being the newb, I got stuck with doing tires..which ended up being a pretty daunting task, basically, here's the tire program, it's very important, figure it out. At first, it was simply cleaning and doing the logistics, years later it evolved into doing the pressure temperature curves. I had decided that if being a tire specialist was going to be my racing job, I wanted to be the best in the business, I'm probably not, as there are plenty of talented people in the sport, but I'd like to think I'm in the top 10 or so. Tire pressures and temps being a moving target at all times, I strive to be within 4 tenths of a psi, of my hot target pressures.
I have to thank Bruce Foss from Conti/Hoosier and Pat (I'm sorry I can't remember your last name) from Brumos Porsche for taking me by the hand and showing me the way. You guys never gave me the answers, you forced me to figure it out on my own.
IT was definitely David vs Goliath with that damn car, hard to believe we ended up with 1 pole, 2 podiums and a win with it.
I remember when they pulled the plug on the program,, when we returned to the car hauler, there was a Roush engine sitting in the crate, at the back of the trailer. Someplace I have a pic of all of us hugging that engine, after 2 and sometimes more, engine changes in a weekend, it was so awesome to have an engine that would go 50 hours. Hat's off to the Roush guys as they were always our most vocal fans running the Subi..and were the first to congratulate us when we won.
I talked to AJ about moving to a car chief, but a friend of mine was looking for a job, he had worked for the PWC Nissan team, so I talked Joe and AJ into hiring him, and talked myself out of that job..lolol. It was the exact right decision, Jason Van Schooten (know as van Scootin') was the perfect guy for that job, (as long as the hood stayed on) and I was the perfect guy for the tire specialist. They hired another buddy Drew Dill, a guy who went into the US Army at age 17, served in Iraq, and went on to do tires on the IMSA team. The 4 of us, AJ, Jason, Drew and myself became locally famous in St. Petersburg (Jason, Drew and myself were all from St. Pete) as the "Mustang Mafia" sticking to the factory GT4 spec Camaro in PWC in 2017, before being BoP'd into infinity.
I met some great people along the way, Ben, and the "Benny and the Jets" pit crew in IMSA, John Vincent, Jeff (I can't sign my name and only talk in engineering terms) Feit, Preston Calvert, and others like Kurt Rezzatano and Marshal "monkey arms" Mast
Although I've done one offs for other teams (a win at Burton Racing at Road Atlanta in IMSA) and now a partial deal with Kohr, it will always be the Aquilantes that I remember for giving me the chance to participate. As I'm old enough to sign up for social security, I can say I've had an awesome life, a firefighter for 32 years, and playing with race cars for the past 10, my life has been consumed by shiny things that made a lot of noise, with a massive dose of adrenalin. In essence, I've never had to grow up, and the Lord's been good to me.
I'm still just doing tires..but one thing has become abundantly clear, you can do all the suspension tuning and design you want, but all those changes have to go through that rubber, since that is virtually all I've done It has become clear how important that aspect has become, I don't know if I could be credited as having "won" any races but I'm pretty sure that I was an integral part of the dozens of wins that came out of it, and fudging the tire numbers have definitely led to performance gains. Bret Spaude was busting my chops once, and I told him "Don't mess with the tire guy, I can slow you right down"...lol
So I'm posting a bunch of pics, good and bad, without comment.. so you can enjoy the ride.
Thanks again Joe and AJ without you guys I would never have been here.

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TymeSlayer

Tramps like us, Baby we were born to run...
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Congrats my friend. You certainly have been blessed these past tens years. Some folks may not understand what it's like to be the tire guy but around these parts, your frank insights and wealth of knowledge is greatly appreciated. Here's hoping you get to do what you want to do for as long as you want to do it.

Kirk
 

Coz

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Wow. Awesome story. And kudos for hooking up your friends to help the team, even if that meant you not getting the position you wanted.

And now I know what you based your recent comment in another thread about a Subaru needing to replace it's engine after each race. Lol.

And congrats on 32 years with the FD. Thats a long time in a grueling job. But I guess you didn't have to worry about air pressures on the wagon wheels. :) I was a volunteer for 42 years. (Probably equates to 4.2 years in a paid department)

Above all, thanks for sharing your exceptional knowledge with us in TMO!

Chris
 

ChrisM

No bad days.
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Man that is so awesome and they are lucky to have you as part of the team. It's easy to see why teamwork is so essential! Just thinking about tire pressures, which many people never spend time on, took one person's whole career! Great work Rob and glad to have you here sharing that knowledge!
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
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What at great story to end the week with, and really enjoyed the photo album of the years spent with Phoenix. Always a pleasure to read your thoughts, and work to apply them to each of our individual needs. Considering the fact that 90% of us on this Forum are amateur Trackrats, your passionate contributions are a true blessing , and it shows how much you love the sport, regardless of what level it is competed on!

You constantly show us all the " Lamb of Kindness, " assisting with our numerous questions, so pretty hard for most of us to find you a Blacksheep at all!!
 

Boss4Me

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Great story and congrats on your years doing what you love. As a newb on TMO and in the hobby (not a sport or business for me), your handle always attached me to stop and read your words and insights. Good luck
 

drano38

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Great story! Thanks for sharing your experience, and I'll second the above posts -- thanks also for sharing your knowledge to all of us here. Your expertise is appreciated.
 

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