This was a week of awesome facilities. Core Autosport is the dream of one entrepreneur - Jon Bennet, who took a fascinating route to becoming a professional race car driver. Most that I have met grow up racing as a kid and try to follow it into adulthood on the constant Holy Grail search for solid, long lasting sponsorship to fund the racing. This can be a nightmare journey as more often than not, your life resets at the end of each year when sponsors re-evaluate their spending. This was NOT the journey for Jon. Jon decided the best way to become a race car driver, was to go into business, eventually start his on and simply make enough money to have that business fund his racing. I guess it's not rocket science, but when you see the set-up he has created for himself and his American Le Mans Team, you realize that it was damned smart. Take note - this is something we should all plan to do, guys. CORE Autosport races 2 cars in American Le Mans Series LMP Class. This is a series style I love. The engine is a sealed unit based on a Chevrolet LS model and no real modifications can be made to the chassis either - the team has to adhere to a strict set of rules. It's essentially a series that keeps the costs down a little for the teams as the high dollar world of engine and aero development are not a factor - though let's be honest, we're not going to call this cheap racing!
Most race shops I have visited are impressive, but they are focused race shops. CORE's facility is gorgeous throughout. The attention to detail that made Jon's company successful has clearly ben applied to all areas of building CORE's HQ. The stairs are one of the nicest set's I have ever seen and even the table in the conference room is built from giant Carbon Fiber box beams. This type of attention fascinates me. Working on a race team would be an honor anyway, but arriving at your work every day, these guys get a visual reminder of the passion of their team owner. This is an expensive step to take, but I think it's wonderful, CORE is a giant step above a regular race shop and the environment of the facility will help lock down the sense of pride in working there.
Pride = passion = better performance = winning races
What I find interesting is that in the shop area, there is WAY more area than one team is ever going to need, but it was mentioned to me that it was designed with the ability to possibly host their partners and manufacturers in the future as they grow...possibly aiming at vertical integration in a race team. That would be really cool.
It was a very interesting find in Rock Hill South Carolina, not exactly a location I expected to stumble upon a leading edge race team, but I suppose it is very close to the NASCAR epicenter of Charlotte. I look forward to supporting CORE at the next California ALMS race.
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