Guy PipitoneGuy Pipitone – Formula Mazda – Getting his Groove Back

– Summit Point Pro F/M – 3rd

“I used Jim as a coach before he had actually gone into business.  In 2009 I was running a semi-pro Formula Mazda series, in the older model F/M, and I was coming off two dismal events.  At both Road America and then Mid-Ohio, a course I knew well, I had trouble running higher than 15th or so.  At Summit Point, Jim and I systematically went to every important turn, session by session, and mapped out an approach.   We debriefed each time I came in.  The next day I qualified on the pole, three-tenths of a second under the lap record.  I felt my confidence come back and it made me want to continue to explore the limits of the car.  I should have won the race but I missed a shift and had to settle for third.   Working with Jim definitely helped my driving.  In addition to getting my lines down, it was great to have someone to review tactics and strategy.”

“As great a driver as you were, you may be an even better coach.” – Two time National Champion and longtime FV pacesetter, Stevan Davis, said to Jim at impound after he coached Rick Shields to the National FV Championship at Road America at the 2010 Runoffs.

Rich Shields – The Last Piece of the Puzzle – Strategy

  • 2010 National Champion F/V
  • 2010 Kimberly Cup – Most Improved SCCA Driver
  • 2011 Runoffs – 4th
  • 2112 Grid 3rd, DNF – suspension failure


“In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d win this race.  Jim helped me tap into an incredible amount of information.  I’ll definitely use his coaching services again. Before Jim, the best I could do at the Runoffs was 9th.”

– Rick Shields

Rick had won many races but the Runoffs was a puzzle.  His best finish was 9th.   We worked together for the first time at the 2010 Runoffs.  Rick had great split times but like many quick drivers, he was impatient; he wanted to win every corner.  But Road America is all about strategy and tactics.  To win the drafting game you have to learn the unwritten rules of the game. To the surprise of many, Rick paid attention.  He learned how to play the game, and he won. When Rick added racecraft to his skill set, he was hard to beat.

“Being at the racetrack with Jim was like being in that Verizon commercial.   He connected me with so many people and so much information.”

Rick had speed but he did not have the experience that many of the top F/V drivers had.  He was a quick study.  We talked about strategy and we talked about drafting.  Every time he went out on the track he had a plan a, b and c.

“I could tap into Jim’s experience, on everything from tire management to the best use of each session, whether I was testing or qualifying.  I wasn’t just pounding around.”


Craig Clawson – Moving Up in the Pro F2000 Series Ranks

Breaking Into the Top Ten in the Pro Series Ranks and Named 2011 Glen Region Driver of the Year!

“I love going balls out and facing myself down in certain corners.  I owe it to you that I give my all in every session and always debrief afterwards. 

Bringing all that into focus for me is invaluable and has made me a much better driver.  Before I worked with you, I didn’t have a real method for assessing my performance.” – Craig Clawson


“I’d review data but I wasn’t looking deeply at my own contribution.  Now I do a track map after every session and Jim and I debrief.  Together with my team, we come up with a goal and plan for the next session,” says Craig.


“There was a fire in Craig that I hadn’t seen before and Phil and I both saw it.”   – Joe Atkinson

I received an email for Joe, Craig’s data guy, after our first outing:  “Craig called me last night and he is very pleased with how the weekend went and with your contributions to our progress.  I’ve never heard him talk about going to a race for ‘the battle’ before.  There was a fire in Craig that I hadn’t seen before and Phil  and I both saw it.  We’re already discussing the initial set up for the next race. He really likes your debrief routine.  Phil and I got a real lift from the improvement in Craig’s driving.”

At 60, Craig Clawson is not a young gun but he competes with many of them in the red hot Pro Formula 2000 Championship Series.  I first worked with Craig at the June Watkins Glen event and he cut 1.8 seconds off his prior best time and gridded 8th in a Pro F2000 field of 32 cars. Despite transmission problems on Saturday, he finished 12th and on Sunday took a fine 9th place, holding off the young Brazilian, Gustavo Rizzo.

Team Clawson has been competing in the F2000 Championship series for six years.   This season they broke into the top 10, finishing 9th overall and took second place in the Masters Class.  Craig was named the Glen Region SCCA Driver of The Year and now shares a place with his late father on the region’s perpetual trophy.


Watkins Glen (June): Race #1 -12th, Race #2 – 9th of 32 cars – personal best lap time
Mid-Ohio: 20th of 28 cars
Mosport: Race #1 -12th, Race #2 – 7th – of 22 cars
Lime Rock: Race #1 – 4th, Race #2 – 8th – of 22 cars – personal best series finish
Watkins Glen (October): Race #1 -14th, Race #2 – 12th – of 37 cars

Final Season Standings: 9th overall, 2nd in Masters Class – both personal bests

Ray Phillips – Stepping Up 

“All the knowledge that he has gained over the 30+ years of racing is invaluable and he is a really great communicator.”   – Ray Phillips

Runoffs – 2010  –  A Shot At the Top 10

“With Jim, my best time at the 2010 Runoffs was nearly 3 seconds a lap faster than what I had turned at the June Sprints in 2009.”

Ray Phillips had only been to the Runoffs once before, in 2007 at Topeka. He’d run a strong race to finish 16th but his starting spot of 24th had been a lot to overcome.  We set a goal of qualifying in the top 20 and finishing in the top 10.  Ray consistently improved over two test days. He qualified a solid 17th of 37 entrants and was prepared to charge.  As early as lap three Ray had already moved up to 13th but he was caught out, like many others, by a Valdez-size oil spill in Turn 8.

2011 Testing Yields Regional Win, National Personal Bests at Summit Point

At the May National Ray entered his last FV National at Summit with a decided disadvantage – he’d already sold off his best FV motor as he prepared to move up to Pro F1600.  But he worked hard on the critical fast turns and for the first time ever he qualified in the 1:25’s and gridded 5th in a stellar field.  He backed that up with a fine 4th place finish, his best ever Summit National finish, an apt farewell to FV.

Gary Blanarik

Blanarik Rules F/V at Pocono Double National, August 2011

Blanarik Rules F/V at Pocono Double National, August 2011

“Jim had an answer for every question I had.” – Gary Blanarik

Gary Blanarik, 44, is a master technician at a Porsche/Audi/BMW dealership near Pittsburgh.  He has raced F/V for 12 years.  I worked with Gary at the Pocono Double National August 12-14 to tune up for the 2011 Runoffs.

Gary took both pole positions and won each race.  In a heavy rainstorm on Sunday, he had to work extra hard.  His car wouldn’t start at the 1 minute whistle.  He needed a push start and officials decreed that he had to start from the pit lane.  Starting from a dead stop after the entire field went by, he went on to run down the leaders and win by 16 soggy seconds.

“It was a very enjoyable and educational weekend.  Jim encouraged me to make set up changes and the car felt really good.  I know the rain set up made a big difference for me.  It was really stable despite the near flood conditions.  I’m looking forward to working with Jim at the 2011 Runoffs.”

                                                                                           – Gary Blanarik

Results:   Two poles, two wins.
Runoffs 2011: Personal Best Finish, Personal Best Road America Lap Time

If the SCCA had pari-mutuel betting and published a Racing Form it would be hard to overlook Gary.  Outside the car he is so laid back and out of sight it is easy to miss him.  A quick look at his lap time numbers reveal the march he is on at Road America.  In 2009 he gridded 21st with a 2:46.2 and fought his way up to 14th.  In 2010 he qualified 11th with a 2:44.1 and took 10th.  And in 2011 he gridded 10th with a 2:43.5 and ran a 2:42.5 to finish 8th.  The progression is impossible to deny.

Gary has all the building blocks.  He is thoughtful, quick and strategic on track.  He has great concentration. He works on the car relentlessly.  The car is extremely well thought out and properly presented.  He and his Dad have a steady and solid routine.  There is no stone unturned and he thinks far ahead.  Bet the farm on this dark horse.

Dale Rader – Stepping Up from the Plateau

“Summit Point was not my best track.  I first worked with Jim at the National there in May of 2011.  In years past, I’d struggle to get in the 1:27’s.  I did a 1:25.9 in both qualifying and the race. It was a different world.”                                                        – Dale Rader

Summit Point National, 2011.  “After 14 years of racing F/V I hit a ceiling. I wanted to do better.  I first worked with Jim at the Summit National, May 2011, and I went faster.  I qualified in the 1:25’s for the first time and my best race lap was also in the 1:25’s.  I took 5th in a very strong field.  It was my best ever Summit National finish.”

On the Thursday evening before the Friday test day Dale and I spent time sitting on our butts out on the track taking a long hard look at some of Summit’s fast tricky turns, notably Turns 3 and 10.  “We tried a number of things throughout the weekend but a lot of my gains came from having the confidence to push harder through the fast stuff without tensing up.  Talking with Jim after each session helped me keep my head up,” said Dale.  “When I made a mistake, Jim could help me work through it.  I became more confident. I became more consistent.  Even when I made a misstep, I felt I could catch it.”

Watkins Glen Double National, 2011. “I also worked with Jim at the Watkins Glen Double National where I cut two full seconds off my prior best lap time and qualified 4th on Saturday and 5th on Sunday in what was probably the toughest F/V field in the country outside of the Runoffs.”   Dale finished 6th on Saturday and 7th on Sunday with the third fastest lap of the race.   “I was disappointed not to move up but it was a whale of a race and Jim gave me a lot to think about.   Now that I’m going fast, I need to work on my race craft.”  Keith Rader, Dale’s brother and crew person, was not the only one to notice the improvement: “Roger Siebenaler (3-time National F/V Champion) told me that Dale was the next guy they were worried about,” said Keith.

2012 – Team Rader’s Best/Worst Season 

Summit Point National, May 2012 – While he went faster than ever in 2011, Dale didn’t have the confidence the comes from mixing it up at the very front. All that changed at Summit.  After gridding 8th in his new Vortech he got up to 6th at the start.  He hung on admirably for the first third of the race and then it happened, right before my eyes.  He moved up to 5th and after a few laps, took 4th.  Then he was 3rd, behind two National Champions.  Dale made it up to 2nd but with just a few laps to go he went off at Turn Ten.  Still, you could see it in his eyes.  Now he knew he could do it.   His post- race debrief notes said it all: “We’re players.”

 New Jersey National – At the very next race Dale qualified on the Pole, only to be taken out from behind at the start.

Watkins Glen Double National –  Dale qualified 3rd for one race and 4th for the other.  He was one of only four cars to get into the 2:15 bracket and in the afternoon qualifying session he was the fastest FV on track.  In the first race Dale got up to 2nd but a broken motor mount put him out for the rest of the weekend.  It has been a while coming but watch for this team in 2013.

Ed Impink – Old dog.  New Tricks
Still Quick After All These Years

Summit MARRS, Labor Day, 2011

“Jim has the tenacity and concern that Bill Scott had for doing things right.”- Ed Impink

Results: 2 Poles, Saturday 1st, Sunday 3rd, Monday 1st

“I know I get set in my ways.  It took a while but Jim wore me down and I began making changes.   Working with Jim was the highlight of my season, without question.”    – Ed Impink

055At the typically crowded Summit Point Labor Day 2011 MARRS Triple, a big F/V field put Ed to the test.  Ed was no stranger to the track, having run the very first race at Summit in 1969.  He marches to his very own drum and his equipment is most often homebuilt and unique.  

“Working with Jim really made me think about my driving and that was very rewarding.”

Ed was quick but was losing time somewhere.  It turned out to be in the braking zones.  The car was not decelerating strongly.  We made some adjustments to the car and Ed responded quickly.  He went on to win two of three races that weekend for his strongest outing in years.  While there is a delightful twinkle in his eye, he has lost none of his bite.   He is fiercely determined to do his level best and to do it his way.  In was an honor to work with this Silver Fox.

Dan Oseth’s Fabulous First National Season – A Great Leap Forward


Summit Point National, May 2011 – 3rd
Glen Double National, July 2011 – 5th, 3rd
National Runoffs, September, 2011 – 10th

“Jim helped me be disciplined in my recall about what both me and the car were doing.  Without a good review process a lot of information gets lost or hopelessly jumbled up. We made a great team.”
                                                                                               – Dan Oseth

At Dan’s first visit to Watkins Glen he showed his racer genes, learning both the track and how to best a 5 car FV cluster.

Dan Oseth, 25, grew up around racing.  Both his dad, Jim, and his Uncle Steve are notable figures in F/V and F/F.  Dan, a natural athlete, was a very successful high jumper in college, clearing 6’ 11”.  He started racing in 2010 and in 2011 embarked on his first season of nationals.

“I filled out a track map right after each session.  We had talked about me not driving angry and sure enough at Summit, some cars got together at the start and I nailed Roger Siebenaler and fell way back to nearly last of the 19 car field.  I decided it wasn’t even worth raising my eyebrows over it and I drove back up to take third place. Jim’s advice and methods help me collect myself mentally and learn more quickly.”

Ray Qualls – Gaining Confidence at Watkins Glen

I can hear his words in my head as I’m driving.”- Ray Qualls


Ray Qualls, 43, races F/V on a very tight budget.  He has been champion in the very competitive MARRS regional series.  He is a front running regional driver aspiring to run among the best of the hypercompetitive Northeast National series.

But Ray was outside his comfort zone at Watkins Glen at the Glen Double National in July of 2011.  “I want to improve but I simply can’t afford to wreck the car.  After talking with Jim about some of the more stressful turns, I felt better.  “I made gains and I’ll go back with more confidence.”

Jim articulates information in a way I can connect with and process.  He thinks like a driver.  He has a very methodical approach and I felt I was making clear gains without taking a big leap of faith.  I wasn’t at the front but I was much less intimidated and faster than I had ever been.   I love racing but it is much more fun when you are making progress.  I now have a concrete approach to improve my performance at future races.”

Results: Watkins Glen Double National, July 2011 – personal best lap time.