- Advertisement -
|Carbotech Brakes, SCCAForums.com|
|Head of telesales, call center vendor management for Direct Energy|
Favorite TV show:
|“Curb Your Enthusiasm”|
|I enjoy all movies|
|Piers Anthony books as a child|
|Favorite Track:||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course|
|Dream Racecar:||Trans Am series, any car|
Long before a new racing season starts with NASA, Dave Schotz is busy planning his road to the Championships. He studies how the classes are taking shape and what performance improvements to make to his cars and still stay within the rules.
This methodical approach has paid off big for Schotz, who became NASA’s all-time winningest Championship driver in early September by collecting four checkered flags at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, putting his career National Championships at 11.
Making those Championships even sweeter is that Schotz has had his father, Joel, there to serve as a crew member and to cheer him on.
“I doubt that we’ll ever see that happen again,” said the elder Schotz about the four championships in one weekend. “Everything has to line up perfect. The schedule has to be perfect. The cars can’t break. There are so many things that have to line up, and we managed to pull it off.”
It was a coordinated effort that saw Dave jumping from his Firebird to the Corvette to compete in Time Trial B and Performance Touring B as well as Time Trial C and Performance Touring C. Often he had less than 15 minutes between grid times.
Schotz set the previous record of three national championships in one weekend, and in this year’s final race it looked like the old record would stand.
Racing against a faster Acura Integra, Schotz says he was having a tough time keeping up with the Acura in the Performance Touring C class that had put up faster times in qualifying. It wasn’t until the last turn on the last lap that Schotz caught his fellow racer and won by half a car length.
“The younger Dave Schotz would have driven at 11/10ths to keep up with him. I would have worn my car out trying to do laps my car wasn’t able to do,” he said. “I think none of that would have happened 10 years ago.”
Schotz began auto racing at age 18, starting in autocross and competing with a 1986 Ford Ranger pickup truck.
“I’ll never forget this. One of the organizers said, ‘Did you haul a bale of hay to get here?’” Schotz said. “I still thought I was hot stuff in this Ranger with some big old 15-inch wagon wheels on it. Of course I didn’t win anything.”
Autocross fueled Schotz’s passion for racing, providing the father and son the opportunity to share a common passion. Dave traded in the Ranger pickup truck while Joel traded in a Toyota Supra to get a 1988 Mustang GT and they began competing in autocross events together.
Sounding like a proud father, Joel said it was clear early on that Dave had the driving talent. “He’s the one that obviously has got the talent and wins the races,” Joel said. “He’s the real driver.”
The pairing works for them as they race on a limited budget. Joel jokes his job is to keep the car safe so that Dave can win Time Trials and Performance Touring races.
They frequently get together to work on the racecars at the Dave’s home in Chandler, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix. Dave handles the heavier mechanical work while pops focuses on the electrical items. They take pride in their work and maintenance, pointing out that they had only one mechanical failure during a race when a spark plug wire came off.
“People see us arriving at the tracks and they notice we are never working on our cars. It’s pull up, race and go,” Davie said. “They’re like, ‘Your cars always work.’ It’s because of the level of prep we do prior to the event.”
They also do a major refresh on the racecars prior to the Championships rather than at the beginning of the season. It’s a decision that pays dividends, Dave said. “If you look at the level of failures at Nationals, I think that speaks to it,” he said
At the racetrack, they take turns racing the Corvette or the Firebird with the understanding that Dave is the primary driver. During the Championships, Dave is the only one who drives, with his father serving as a spotter.
This arrangement works well for both of them, said fellow racer Hal Dunn.
“Dave is really focused. When he gets behind the wheel of the car, it’s about one thing and that’s winning,” Dunn said. “He knows exactly the limits of the car and puts it there 100 percent of the time.”
Dave, who manages call centers for a large energy company, said he’s evolved as a racer over the years.
“I will tell you, five or 10 years ago I was faster than I am now,” he said. “I’m just a lot smarter now. There is truly a level of experience you gain over many, many years.”
The father and son duo know they are fortunate to spend time together as Dave’s job has him traveling frequently.
“Obviously, what a way to bond with your Dad,” Dave said. “Father-son racing together all around the country, getting to spend a lot of time with your father, sometimes you don’t get that as a child.”
Adds Dave’s Dad, “I can’t put into words how lucky and spoiled I am.”
Spoken like a proud father.