Celebrating No. 100 and Beyond - SONOMA, CalifJun. 22 2017
K-PAX Racing reaches 100-podium milestone in 2017
Reaching 100 podium finishes in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) was not an initial goal of K-PAX Racing owner Jim Haughey, but that milestone was reached earlier this season and provides the opportunity to reflect on everything the team has achieved so far.
Since joining PWC in 2007, K-PAX Racing has amassed 103 podium finishes across three classes – Sprint GT, Touring and the newly introduced SprintX – as well as captured four Driver Championships and two Manufacturer Championships.
“The 100-podium mark was never a goal of mine. It’s just a number. We have great drivers – some of the best on the planet as far as sports car racing – and now we’ll get back to it and get back on the podium.”
Haughey worked in the automotive industry for 25 years as the former owner of Scandia Auto Service in Sunnyvale, Calif., but even so his day-to-day operations lacked the intensity of racing. Haughey followed PWC and eventually shifted his focus in the Fall of 2006 from being just a fan to owning a stake in the racing business.
“Racing was something I enjoyed as a young-adult, but I had to work,” said Haughey. “I was working all the time and racing went to the backseat. I’d watch racing on television, but I had a business with growing assets and responsibilities. Then there came a time when I could say, ‘Hey, I can do it now.’ Business was good and could run by itself, so I just wanted to step outside my arena a little bit from what I was doing and get back into something I enjoyed when I was young.”
He met with long-time racer and car builder Bob Raub of 3R Racing, and the two eventually modified two Porsche 911 GT3 cars to series specifications. Randy Pobst and Michael Galati were hired to drive, fulfilling all three crucial elements Haughey followed in constructing the team. “You need good cars, good drivers and a good crew,” he said.
In 2007 and 2008, all of those components came together and helped Haughey skyrocket to success. The Pobst-Galati tandem amassed 18 podium finishes in 20 events with Pobst capturing the driver’s championship in both seasons. Notably, one of Haughey’s favorite finishes came in the 2007 season finale at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, where Pobst won the race by a scant 0.031 margin – the closest margin of victory to date at the legendary 2.238-mile circuit.
“I don’t know what I was expecting but we lucked-out, didn’t we?” said Haughey with a grin. “The first championship wasn’t a ‘gimme’ because there’s a lot of smart people in the racing paddock. I knew I needed other people who were good at it that would help me do well in it. I was trying to find the best people that could do the job. At the end, I was pinching myself saying ‘Is this really happening?’”
Fulfilling a Dream
Scandia Auto Service was a full-service independent Volvo specialist repair shop, and Haughey’s long-term goal was to blend his past with the present. Haughey said he had great interest in the prospect of building a race team with Volvo, and accomplished his goal with help from Volvo North America as they made the change in 2009 to the 2.5-liter, turbocharged Volvo S60 AWDs.
“When we went to Volvo, now that was a project build,” Haughey said. “It took a lot of teamwork with suppliers, engineers and manufacturers because Volvo does not typically make race cars. Making the Volvo into a race car though, I really enjoyed that. It was a good project and then it started to evolve.”
K-PAX Racing with 3R Auto, designed, machined and assembled most of the car in-house, with the motors being built by Mahle and transmissions by Weismann. The hard work paid off with on-track success as the team gathered 55 podium finishes in the GT and Touring classes from 2009-13. During that run, Pobst earned another driver’s title and Volvo captured its only professional sports car title in North America to date (2010).
“I really enjoyed the S60s,” Haughey said. “When they won, it was such a reward for everyone that worked so hard to develop and build the cars. The other competitors did not like it because Volvo isn’t a racing brand, but they were really hard-fought victories.”
Believing in McLaren
In late-2013, Haughey started a new relationship with British automaker McLaren. K-PAX Racing fielded two McLaren 12C GT3 race cars for the 2014 season before upgrading to the 650S GT3s the following year. In a little more than three full seasons, K-PAX has already captured 30 podiums and 13 wins with McLaren.
One of Haughey’s most memorable races during this stretch was the 2016 season finale at Laguna Seca, where renowned veteran Alvaro Parente took advantage of some late-miscues by his competitors in the closing laps and eventually won the race by a 0.671 margin. Parente ultimately won the Driver Championship by a 28-point margin and helped K-PAX Racing secure both the Team and Manufacturer title.
“I think the most unbelievable [finish] to date is Laguna Seca from last year,” Haughey said. “It came down to the last lap – the last straight of the season. It was just incredible.”
Haughey owes all his success to those around him. While reminiscing on the team’s numerous achievements over the course of a decade, he could not help but to voice his appreciation for everyone who has taken part in the K-PAX Racing movement.
“Success is really about all the people involved,” he said. “It’s about the team coming together and doing what you couldn’t individually do. It’s about creating something bigger and better than what you can do individually.”
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 103 podiums, 41 wins and four driver championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In 2014, K-PAX Racing expanded its relationship with McLaren GT, bringing two new 2015 McLaren 650S GT3 race cars into competition. The renewed effort kept K-PAX Racing at the forefront of competition, becoming a serious championship contender in the seasons to follow. In 2016, the team expanded to three full season McLaren 650S GT3 race cars, and clinched the Pirelli World Challenge Team, Driver, and Manufacturer Championships.
About McLaren GT
McLaren has been a pioneer and setting benchmarks on the tracks around the world for 50 years, and the latest range of GT racing models based on the road-going McLaren Automotive range is no different. McLaren GT was established in 2011 to develop, build and support all GT race activities. Based in Woking, Surrey at the former home of McLaren Racing, the company is responsible for the design, development and production of the 650S GT3, 570S GT4, and 650S and 570S Sprint models.