Every Mile a Memory
K-PAX Racing Team Owner Jim Haughey reflects on 50 career wins in the Pirelli World Challenge but even with the achievement, the Sonoma, Calif. team looks forward to the many miles ahead.
Jim Haughey, who had worked in the automotive industry for more than 25 years, embarked on his life-long goal in 2006 of starting his own team someday. Over the course of observing the Pirelli World Challenge’s (PWC) 12-race schedule that year, he took notes of what he could do to foster a successful team. K-PAX Racing officially entered the series the following year and unbeknownst to Haughey at the time, it was the start of a storied 12-year legacy – one filled with countless memories and to date, 50 victories in the series.
“I learned so much that helped me in managing a team the following year,” said Haughey about the 2006 season. “I had created a list of all the things that ultimately would make a team better – down to the little things you take for granted. I kept track of everything. I learned that year that you need a lot of stuff to win, but certainly you have to have a good crew, good drivers and good cars. If you don’t have those three things at a minimum, then you’re not going anywhere.”
K-PAX Racing added to its illustrious 12-year history June 23 by earning its 50th victory in the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series. Álvaro Parente, driver of the No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3, helped the team reach its milestone by besting the field by a 1.131 margin in the sixth round of Sprint GT at Road America (Wis.). It was Parente’s 12th win with K-PAX Racing since joining the team in 2016, which ranks second all-time among drivers in team history (Randy Pobst – 14).
“I am very proud to have helped Jim achieved his 50th win,” said Parente after standing on the top-step in the Grand Prix of Road America opener. “He makes this all happen, and I’m very fortunate to be a part of this team. I’m very excited to have got the team’s 50th, and hopefully we can get some more wins together.”
Though this feat is special for everyone who has played a part on the team over the course of a decade, Haughey said his sense of accomplishment does not lie in the number itself. Rather, it’s an opportunity to reminisce – for a short time – on all the memories through the years. He owes the team’s success back to the list – to the drivers, the crew and to the four manufacturers K-PAX Racing has competed under since 2007.
“Certainly, ‘wins’ is one way to gauge success,” Haughey said. “But at the same time, it’s the effort the team, drivers and manufacturers are putting forth to enable us to win. Sometimes it may not be our day, but as long as we’re doing the best we can to have a chance to be on the podium. The ultimate goal is to win races and to also have everything working as a machine – our team, our drivers, our cars and the manufacturer all coming together at the right time to get on the podium. Winning is important, but if you can’t win then you need to fall back other things too – if we’re doing everything right or are there any shortcomings that we need to fix.”
“A lot of times, it’s your best time to learn when you aren’t winning. Even if you don’t win, it provides a great opportunity to find your weaknesses and focus on those areas that the race winner was kind enough to show you.”
K-PAX Racing earned its first victory in its fifth-ever race during the 2007 PWC season. In a thrilling battle for the top-spot on the podium, Pobst – an eventual three-time series champion with the team – took advantage of a late miscue by the race leader to win with the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 at Watkins Glen International (N.Y.). Pobst went on to help solidify the team’s first championship in its first operating year – and two more in his tenure with K-PAX Racing.
“I am very pleased and fortunate to have been part of the beginning of K-PAX Racing, and to notch that first win in 2007,” Pobst said. “We ran Porsches while the team, with 3R Racing from Denver, built the amazing Volvo S60’s to come in 2009. Jim Haughey was the creator of this opportunity, and always pushed for the very best, and gave us the support to make it happen, leading to three championships in the first four years. And I’m still cheering for K-PAX Racing in World Challenge today.”
K-PAX Racing has competed in four different manufacturers – Porsche, Volvo, McLaren and Bentley – mainly keeping a trend with each. In 2009, the team pioneered the creation of two Volvo S60 race cars which became a force in the series’ GT class. Under the McLaren and now-Bentley banner, K-PAX Racing has been different than any of its national competitors; K-PAX Racing was the only North American team to campaign the McLaren 12C and 650S GT3 models from 2014-17, and the team is currently the only Bentley Works Supported team in the states.
As it stands, K-PAX Racing has won the most in its five years with Volvo (23), followed by McLaren (15), Bentley (7) and Porsche (5). The team has earned a victory at 19 different tracks in the series – including the most recent and first win at Road America. In this time, ten different drivers have celebrated on the top-step under the K-PAX Racing banner.
One of Haughey’s favorite venues of the 19 is Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In 2013, K-PAX Racing earned two victories in the series’ GT and TC (touring car) classes. More notably, Robb Holland won his first race with K-PAX Racing in the team’s Volvo C30 touring car. The Victory Lane presentation was one that Haughey said he will never forget, and it puts perspective on why No. 50 – as a number – is not as significant as the moments it represents.
“That year was an example that winning is not so much about you as the people around you,” Haughey said. Robb Holland ran the Pirelli World Challenge for a number of years. He got the win at Mid-Ohio, and I thought it was fantastic. It put a big smile on my face because it was a long-time coming for him. I don’t know what that number (50) means to me. What it does mean for me is being able to see Holland’s face after his first win at Mid-Ohio.”
“That’s something I can look back on and be happy. It makes me happy that I’m able to – in some way – help these drivers do what they do the best they can and to be around to see it happen. It’s not necessarily about the number, but it’s about the memories that come with them. It’s the interaction with the team and drivers and to see everyone working together toward a common goal.”
Though K-PAX Racing’s 50th win offers some time for reflection, Haughey would rather look at the road ahead than in the rear-view mirror. Like 2006’s list, Haughey is constantly looking to improve – especially in the team’s first year with a new manufacturer.
“As I’m sitting here at my desk, I’m really not spending my time looking back at Watkins Glen or any of the other victories we’ve had,” Haughey said. “I’m looking at the road forward. It’s not that it’s insignificant and it’s a pleasant surprise that we are at 50 wins now, but like I said I’m looking forward to Portland and the other races on this year’s schedule. It’s more about doing than what you’ve done. That’s great you have 50 wins, but what are you going to do to get No. 51? Are you working for No. 51 or are you looking back at the other 50?”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 121 podiums, 50 wins, four Driver Championships and three Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class K-PAX has fielded Porsche 911 GT3s during the 2007 – 2008 seasons, Volvo S60s during the 2009 – 2013 seasons, McLaren 12C GT3s in 2014, McLaren 650S GT3s from 2015 – 2017, and Bentley Continental GT3s beginning in 2018.
About Bentley Motorsport
Bentley Motorsport is based at the Bentley Motors headquarters in Crewe. From there, the operation runs Bentley Team M-Sport, and oversees customer racing operations around the world.
The Continental GT3 is built by the Bentley motorsport team in conjunction with M-Sport. The Bentley Motorsport team is led by Bentley Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush supported by M-Sport’s Chief Engineer, Christian Loriaux.
Bentley Motors’ headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering and production of the company’s four model lines, Continental, Bentayga, Flying Spur and Mulsanne. The combination of fine craftsmanship, using skills that have been handed down through generations, alongside engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology is unique to UK luxury car brands.
Optimum Polymer Technologies, the manufacturer of Opti-Coat, was founded in Memphis, Tenn., on July 1, 2001 by Dr. David Ghodoussi. Prior to this, Dr. Ghodoussi worked for over 12 years as an Organic Chemist overseeing research and development focused in polymers and automotive paint formulations.
For more than a decade, Opti-Coat has been setting the industry standard with their unique coating technologies developing and manufacturing proprietary resins utilizing Silicon Carbide (SiC) chemistry. Opti-Coat’s purpose is to provide clients with a product that is the most durable, innovative and protective coating available.
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