09 Jan LE MANS WINNER COBB HELPING MOORESPEED BACK ON TRACK
Price Cobb won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1990. He won three consecutive North American Porsche Cup titles from 1986-88 and the Porsche Cup as the most successful privateer Porsche driver in the world in 1994. But recently he made a confession about his stellar sports car driving career.
“Quite frankly, I know I did well because I surrounded myself with stars,” Cobb said. “I know I wasn’t that good as a driver, but the effort was that good, and it made me look like a star. So today, I try to do that for others. My main deal in life today is to help others.” Cobb is doing just that for Moorespeed, an Austin, Texas-based team that is returning to competition for the first time since 2001, this season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, starting with the first two rounds March 13-14 during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida weekend at Sebring International Raceway.
The team is fielding two cars at Sebring, a Platinum GT3 Cup 911 for talented rookie Jesse Lazare of Montreal and a Platinum Masters GT3 Cup 911 for Pierre Mulacek of Austin, Texas.
Moorespeed has a long history of sales, service, repairs, restoration and racing with many exotic marques. Even though the team last competed in the former SPEED World Challenge in 2001, it has remained active in recent years in vintage racing events while overseeing its thriving street car business.
But Moorespeed President David Moore missed the crucible of competition. He longed for the intensity and the satisfaction of strong finishes and teamwork. He yearned for the split-second decisions and challenges for technicians, improving the breed like no other automotive discipline. Moore and Cobb are longtime friends who share the unbreakable bond of Porsche. So when Moore called Cobb last summer to ask him to move to Austin to revive his racing program, Cobb didn’t hesitate. He headed to the Lone Star State and began working with the team in August 2013. “When David raised his hand and asked for help, I was delighted to help,” Cobb said.
Serendipity then helped Cobb’s process of building Moorespeed’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama team. A longtime friend of Cobb’s with a sharp eye for talent called him and urged Cobb to consider three-time Canadian national karting champion Lazare, 16, for a seat. Lazare also was successful in his initial foray in cars, winning the 2013 Can-Am Cup for the FF1600 class.
Cobb brought Lazare to Moorespeed for a test, and his friend’s opinion was spot-on: Lazare was fast, right away. Moorespeed prepared an older, Gold GT3 Cup 911 for Lazare to test Feb. 24-25 at Sebring. But the team quickly changed gears and decided to field a 2014 Platinum car for Lazare at the Sebring race after being impressed by his speed in the older car at the test.
Cobb has worked with young drivers since his retirement from the driver’s seat, helping to groom them for major series with his wisdom and contacts. Cobb led unknown Brad Coleman from obscurity at an indoor karting center in Houston to the Rolex 24 At Daytona and then a NASCAR Nationwide Series seat with Joe Gibbs Racing in just five years.
And now he sees similar star quality in Lazare.
“I believe that Jess has the talent to win, meaning win the championship,” Cobb said. “Is that an absolute must? No. But I do want him in the class that if he does well, I want him to get the attention he may not have gotten in the Gold class. If indeed he’s going to make it, make this a job moving forward, he needs to be in front of people who can see you make it.
“Part of my relationship with Porsche, I can’t imagine a better place for him to start out in cars. It’s competitive. Porsche cares. He’s Canadian. A bunch of things are going for him. A bunch of Canadians have gone on to do some pretty big things of late. Jess has a chance.”
Cobb will help Lazare with racing advice. Shifting, car setup, proper lines through corners, analyzing data and more. But he also provides another kind of help that might be even more valuable.
“What he really wants to know is the ‘rest of it,’” Cobb said. “The driving, he’s naturally gifted. There are a lot of things I can teach him. But the rest of it is what I’m trying to teach him, stuff that would take him years to learn. Behavior on and off the track, choices to be made, decisions to be balanced while he’s on the track and off the track.
“You become close to them. The last guy I did this for in very few years went from literally not having ever raced to driving for Joe Gibbs, in about five years. That was huge. I was game to do that. Before I’m pushing daisies up, I thought: ‘You know what? Someone like Jess’ talent, I’d like to do that again.’ It really revolves around my enjoyment of helping others. That’s really all it is.”
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com, follow @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.
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Original article courtesy IMSA: