After spending the last six years in endurance racing, Pete McIntosh rejoined NASA’s Northeast Region in 2020 with the ambitious goal of winning every race. It was ambitious for McIntosh, especially because he was joining the Spec Miata class, which has a deep field of cars and talented drivers.
McIntosh was able to manifest his destiny in 2020, winning 10 consecutive Spec Miata races and earning his 50th victory with NASA after racing with the organization on and off since 2010. McIntosh didn’t broadcast his goal to run the table and would play coy when asked. His competitors were keenly aware McIntosh was gunning for a perfect season, though.
“There’s people that I know that they’d always give me a helpful push or we’d work together to get through traffic,” McIntosh said. “As the year went on, it was everybody else is gonna push and we’ll see if Pete can keep up. The strategy among competitors changed as the year went on and made it more fun, to be honest.”
NASA Northeast Spec Miata leader Ben Miller doesn’t think McIntosh will be able to duplicate last season. “I think he’ll do well this year, but he’s not going to run the table — that’s my prediction,” Miller said.
Like many successful racers in NASA, McIntosh is an open book in the paddock, freely sharing his car’s data with any driver in Spec Miata. Miller said that McIntosh often takes it one step further and reviews the video and data with his on-track competitors.
“A lot of those guys that are looking at my data are guys that shared their data with me when I was starting to race, and I learned a lot of what I know from them,” McIntosh said. “I don’t understand the feeling of not wanting to make your competitor better. If I’m trying to beat you and you’re better, I’m going to get better.”
Jim Tramontano, who has done some endurance races with McIntosh, said that McIntosh is genuine in wanting to raise the level of racing in Spec Miata.
“If all of a sudden somebody starts winning out of nowhere, a lot of times there’s little whispers and there’s none of that with him,” Tramontano said. “There’s no like, ‘Hey, I wonder if his car is legal? It’s always like, ‘Yeah, he just knows what he’s doing.’”
Tramontano recalls a race where there was tech check, and the hoods were sealed. The following event McIntosh rolled the car off the trailer with the seals still on the hood. “He didn’t even pop the hood, didn’t check the oil, nothing and starts driving,” Tramontano said. “A couple of people noticed it and laughed about it. It just shows he’s got a fantastic car too.”
McIntosh has raced in Super Touring classes and Spec E30 in NASA before racing for a couple of years in IMSA and GT World Challenge America. Because of family obligations — McIntosh has three children age 4 and under — he focused on endurance racing to maximize his time behind the wheel. McIntosh was part of the A+ Racing team that won the E3S class at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill race in 2019. The race had its share of rain, and McIntosh excels in wet conditions.
“Driving in the rain, that’s my favorite conditions to drive in. I love, love wet driving,” McIntosh said. “Going to a track I didn’t know, as soon as it starts raining, the conditions are changing lap to lap, everything is different. Someone that has great pace in the dry at a track they know, it starts raining and everything is different lap to lap. It kind of allows you to equalize the playing field.”
McIntosh said one of the reasons he returned to sprint racing was because of the bad habits he developed while doing endurance events. He found himself adjusting the car right up to race time rather than taking a few minutes to focus before jumping into the car.
“When I came in (to racing), I came in purely focused on wanting to get faster, I want to be as good as I can be and over time, I think I lost some of that focus,” McIntosh said. “Last year was a good way for me to kind of say, ‘I enjoy the friendships and I enjoy the benefits of being around people, but this year it’s not the same, so let me try and get some of my good habits back.’”
McIntosh thinks that racing in a year of Covid-19 also helped other competitors improve their race craft because of the social distancing requirements. Drivers spent more time getting into data, reviewing video and focusing on their cars. “I feel like there’s a lot of guys that made big steps and improvements last year,” he said.
Competitors say that McIntosh is relentless on the track, always running near or at the front of the Spec Miata pack. Some drivers prefer to race the track, McIntosh is focused on who he is racing against.
“I think that understanding how someone else is racing is more important than just doing what you do,” he said. “A lot of times I know that I don’t have to be fast, I can just force a mistake and there’s other drivers where I know I just have to be on my game, and I can’t make a mistake, and I have to be faster.
“Knowing the people that you’re racing with and focusing on their tendencies, it’s going to give you a big advantage, a bigger advantage than just being a tenth quicker on a couple laps here and there throughout a race.”
McIntosh knows as this season starts, his Spec Miata competitors will want to end the streak quickly.
“If I were on their side, I would treat it the same way,” he said. “It’s what makes us have so much fun on the racetrack. We’re all competing to win. It’s no fun to play a game or race a car against other people if they’re not giving it their best effort.”
|Racing Class:||Spec Miata, among other classes|
|Sponsors:||McIntosh Industries, Electro Mechanical Technologies, T&Z Auto Services, Kessler Race Engineering, Phil’s Tire Service|
|Day Job:||Machine shop manager|
|Favorite Food:||Smoked brisket|
|Favorite TV show:||“Breaking Bad”|
|Favorite Movie:||“Interstellar,” “No Man’s Land” (the Fast and the Furious before the “Fast and the Furious”)|
|Favorite Book:||Not big on books|
|Favorite Track:||Road Atlanta|
|Dream Racecar:||McLaren F1 GTR, non Longtail Version|