When it comes to the world of racing, Brian Alder has just about done it all. Mechanic? Check. Crew chief? Check. Team manager? Check. Team owner? Check. But it wasn’t until two years ago when Alder, an Ohio native, took his place in the driver’s seat.
“Honestly, I had done every job except driving,” Alder said. “It completes the package. It makes me a better owner, first of all, but it’s also a challenge. I’m always looking to doing something new and push the boundaries.”
Alder made his driving debut last year in the Lites 2 class of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series. The difference between L1 and L2 is the engine. The choice an easy one for Alder, having a championship-caliber car in his BAR 1 Motorsports shop.
“We had the car just sitting there and ready to go,” Alder said. “It was actually Ricardo Vera’s L1 car from 2011, when he won the Lites championship. It was ready for what was then the L2 class, and we went for it.”
Alder went for it, and he succeeded. He ran only a partial season and still took the L2 championship in his rookie season, winning each race he entered. Many times Alder also finished in the top half of Lites 1 drivers, a trend that continues in 2014 during his sophomore season.
“It’s a great class for me to be in,” Alder said. “It’s all about the learning and fine-tuning of the racecraft. It’s my hope that more people see the benefits of the L2 class and join us.”
With the addition of Top 1 Oil as a title sponsor, Alder made the decision to run a full season in 2014 and has continued his winning ways. The BAR1 Motorsport team has started on pole in every race and won every race except two, in which Alder finished second. He leads the L2 standings by 70 points entering Rounds 9 and 10 of the season this weekend at Road America.
One of the biggest draws for Alder to Lites is the tough competition, especially in the sometimes small L2 class.
“There are three to five of us that are all really close in times,” Alder said. “We qualify mid-pack so we’re not just dealing with ourselves but the other L1 cars around us, too. It makes it more fun.
“(Jerome) Mee and I race each other hard but fair.Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was probably the best race we’ve ever had. We respect each other, and that’s key. We go head to head, but it’s to fine-tune our own racecraft.”
But even more than personal championships, Alder is looking for team success in Prototype Lites, where he is hoping to grow thatprogram, and also in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Alder’s BAR1 Motorsports team also fields an entry in the Prototype Challenge class.
“Top 1 Oil as our title sponsor adds a lot to our program because we’re able to do more,” Alder said. “It helps grow us as a team and compete not only in Lites but in TUDOR. With the experience I get racing myself, I know exactly what our drivers mean when they are telling us about changes or problems on the course.”
But it’s not like Alder jumped in the car, crossed his fingers and hoped for the best. Prior to his first race, Alder had 13 years of experience in the industry. It all started in 1989 when his dad took him to his first Indianapolis 500. He was hooked from there.
In 2000, he got his first job as a mechanic on a professional race team and worked inIndyCar and Indy Lights. In 2003, he made the jump to sports car racing, where he stayed and started his team in 2011.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t know what I was doing when I decided to drive,” Alder said. “With the experience I had, I knew what goes on in a driver’s head. From there, it was just doing testing and getting as much seat time as I could.”
Alder’s next challenge will be to take on Road America, a 4-mile, 14-turn road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
“Road America is a great track,” Alder said. “It’s a long lap and gives you a lot of time to think. It’s a balance of how much aero you carry in the turns and how much grip you have. Our cars are so close together – trimming the car will be the main focus for us.”
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