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[SpeedTV] ALMS: My Race: Cindi Lux Mid-Ohio. GT2 Viper Debut

[This story originally appeared on speedtv.com.]

{mosimage}Let's take a quick look at where you will or won't find SPEED World Challenge and American Le Mans driver Cindi Lux:

You won't find Cindi Lux defining her career or skills based on her gender.
You won't find Cindi Lux posing for photo shoots in FHM.
You won't find Cindi Lux vamping in cheesy ads for GoDaddy.com.
You won't find Cindi Lux complaining about her car, team, or blaming rival drivers for her problems.
You won't find Cindi Lux embroiled in an affair with her team owner, jeopardizing her career and credibility.

You will find Cindi Lux in the winner's circle. She's quite good at finding it, actually.
You will find Cindi Lux being hired by the top car manufacturers and driving schools to lend her considerable instructing and chassis development skills.
You will find Cindi Lux amongst the most respected, fiercely competitive, and focused racers in North America.

Meeting Cindi Lux for the first time can be a bit of a revelation for a lot of people. She's not interested in racing for anything other than winning and promoting her sponsors. You're probably asking "Isn't that was every professional racer does?" Absolutely. And that's the core of who Cindi Lux happens to be: just like every other professional racer. She's not weighed down with concerns of gender, her ability, what other drivers think of her, whether they respect her skills or not; she's 'old school' in that sense. She let's her results do her talking, not her gender, and not by letting the media push her into the all too familiar trap so many other female racers struggle to steer clear of.

Beyond her undeniable driving skills, the confidence, class, and dignified approach she brings to her craft could serve as a master class for young female drivers getting started in pro racing. Showing skin is the easy path to recognition; on the Cindi Lux path, only success is used to deliver that recognition.

With the challenge of driving a car that wasn't built for ALMS competition at Mid-Ohio, Cindi's accounts of the effort to gather data and test the waters for Dodge's possible entry in 2008 provide insights into what it takes to gorw a car and team in just weekend. Take it away, Cindi...

~Marshall

{mosimage}When I got a phone call to see if I would be interested in debuting the Viper Comp Coupe in GT2 in the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio, let's just say I really didn't hesitate too long with my answer. To me, the ALMS is an elite series that attracts top drivers and teams who are truly the best in the industry. It had been since 2000 at Road Atlanta at the Petit Le Mans race when I last drove in a Porsche GT3RS in an ALMS race.

I would say this whole story actually started last January when Dodge asked myself and Stan Wilson, long time Dodge club racer and test driver to help conduct a 24 hr. race simulation in a FIA GT3 Viper Comp Coupe. So we headed to Texas Motorsports Ranch for a 3 day test in the FREEZING cold weather. Having limited time in the Viper Comp Coupe, this test was very instrumental for me gaining time behind the wheel but also working closely with the Dodge engineers. After this test, I knew this car would be a great endurance car.

About 4 weeks prior to the Mid-Ohio ALMS event, the deal was worked out and I agreed to be apart of the Woodhouse team for the Viper Comp Coupe debut in ALMS. The plan was to take Bob Woodhouse's #13 World Challenge car and convert it over to ALMS trim. But there were many "firsts" in deal.

We were going to take a brand new car, Viper Comp Coupe, which has never been in this series or class before, a new tire manufacture that has never done a GT2 car and a team that has never done any endurance racing at all!! Combine all those ingredients together and probably a sane person would have walked, well hell, maybe even ran away at this point. But that’s not me. Dodge and Kumho Tires have been very instrumental in my career for the past 5 years and I wouldn't dream of turning my back on them now.

The majority of my focus in 2007 was to run in the Speed GT World Challenge Series. Being a rookie in this series has really taken off the pressure for me this year vs. other years in racing. There is no comparison between World Challenge and the American Le Mans Series. You have 2 totally different animals. One series format is a sprint race of 50 minutes of no hanging back driving style. Every turn, every lap is 110%. In ALMS, it's more of a team approach. Getting the car setup for 2 different drivers, practicing pit stops, deciding who is going to start the race, pit strategies, etc. So many more small things to get plan and execute.

{mosimage}Monday prior to the event, we went to Mid America track to do some testing. It was the first time the Stan and I had a chance to meet the entire Woodhouse Team. These guys were just as excited as Stan and I were to put this car on track at Mid-Ohio. We had a great day of testing and Rick Maxwell did a super job of fine tuning the car to the KUMHO tires. Got to be honest, it was a pretty big change in grip level between the tires used in World Challenge and the KUMHO slicks. So after running in 100+ degree heat all day, we decided it was time for us to start practicing pit stops. Let's just say after our first few practice pit stops, we could only improve! They were a disaster. But we practiced and practiced some more. These guys were driven and we just kept practicing. Slowly but surely our times were improving and becoming much more efficient. We knew we were headed in the right direction.

Needless to say, when the Viper unloaded at Mid-Ohio, there were many eyes focused our way. We heard comments. "Hey look at the Viper" or "what is a Viper doing in the ALMS paddock?" Most other GT2 teams were really cool and happy to see us. But what really got me was the World Challenge community of drivers/teams that took the time to come over and wish us good luck. You see, for so long, there was only one place for the Viper Comp Coupes to race professionally: SCCA Pro Racing in World Challenge. But now there is another place for Viper owners to take these really cool race cars and go play.

When practice and qualifying started to come around, we were slightly off the pace but this was something we expected. Just one fact of being 400 lbs heavier than other GT2 cars didn't help things too much. But we were there to do some research for Dodge Motorsports to see if car had potential for 2008 should they decide to pursue things. Stan my co-driver was great. He was truly a team player and always a gentleman. Being his first ALMS race he did a super job. Seriously, he kept his cool in traffic and showed me he would be a great endurance racer.

At the ALMS event at Mid-Ohio we stuck to our plan of using this event for testing purposes. Our goal was to finish the race with the race car in one piece. We actually ended up 7th in GT2 even though we spent ½ hr. behind the wall with a power steering leak that IMSA required us to fix. So overall, the event went well and we will see what Dodge Motorsports wants to do in the future. There will have to be several changes needed to make these Viper Comp Coupes more competitive and on the same playing field as the Ferraris and Porsches. But I think the car has real potential.

That was the bottom line of this event...and the goal was achieved. And it was a hell of a lot of fun!

 

About Cindi

Dedicated, fast and fearless; Cindi Lux is recognized as one of North America's most talented and versatile drivers.

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Lux Performance

Besides racing and building some of the top level race cars, we also perform specialty engineering and prototype services.

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