Article appearing in South Australia's The Advertiser newspaper on October 25.
Young Australian driver Tom Drewer has made it 10 wins from 12 races in his rookie season, winning the Lites L2 Class honours in the final race of the IMSA Lites Championship at Laguna Seca.
Young South Australian driver, Tom Drewer has stormed to both his first IMSA Lites crown and class victory in the season's end enduro at Laguna Seca.
Young Aussie driver, Tom Drewer has finished his first year of US racing with both the 2008 IMSA Lites L2 Championship and the season finale under is belt.
Adelaide-born Drewer dominated this year’s championship, winning 10 of his 12 starts and impressing the US racing fraternity in the process.
Read it at Wheelsmag.com.au
Like most of the circuits he raced on this year, Drewer had never driven at California's Laguna Seca Raceway. Yet he won both Saturday’s race and the Lites L2 Class in Sunday’s 1hr 15mins endurance event.
Drewer also set a new qualifying class record of 1:24.182 for L2 Class pole on Friday, and against the more potent L1 Class cars finished Saturday’s half-hour race 10th outright and set a new class race lap record. He now holds five lap records in the US.
He’s also won IMSA Lites races outright, holding off the L1 Class cars in his Daily Planet West car.
By winning this year’s L2 Championship, Drewer now holds back-to-back championships across the Pacific, after dominating the Australian AMRS Thundersports Sportscar Series last year.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that 23-year-old Drewer’s now in demand. “We are currently in discussion with teams in a few different categories. I’m excited by some of the opportunities and I hope that I can gain the necessary corporate support to further my career here in America next year. As they say, ‘watch this space," he said.
Tom Drewer has finished his first year of racing in North America just the way he started, with another win at a circuit he’d never been to before.
The young rising Australian driver made it ten wins from twelve races after taking Lites L2 Class honours in the 1 hour and 15 minute endurance race at Laguna Seca on Sunday, the finale of the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship presented by Hankook.
The weekend capped off a stellar international debut for Drewer, 23, who added yet more North American track lap class records to his Championship winning season.
Drewer and his Daily Planet WEST set a new qualifying class record of 1:24.182 to gain L2 Class pole and 12th overall around the famous Californian circuit on Friday. He then went on to win the L2 class in the 30 minute sprint race on Saturday, setting a new race lap record on his way to 10th place overall. However, it was in his first ever endurance drive which Drewer yet again showed his maturity not to mention pace amongst the faster L1 cars, again setting a new class race lap record.
“Everyone told me just to go out and have some fun this weekend after we wrapped up the L2 Championship at Petit Le Mans two weekends ago. But, in some ways I think there was more pressure to perform and finish the year with the same consistency as I started with.
Like every track, with the exception of Road Atlanta, Laguna was a completely new playground this weekend. It is very unforgiving and because of that I set a series of progressive goals. From practice, to qual, to race 1, my Daily Planet Racing/WEST Race Cars team went about ticking those boxes off. It was not about being conservative, but simply measured and doing what we needed to do when we needed to do it.
The Endurance race threw a lot of unknowns into the mix. We have never raced for that length of time on the Hankook tyres and never before had we been required to complete a pit stop or refuelling.
We started the Endurance in 12th overall and I knew the long race distance and mandatory re-fuelling pit stop would reward a consistent pace. There was no point in risking the car early on to gain minimal track position.
I set about achieving a good rhythm and pace in the car early on. Jake and my WEST team had near perfect timing on our pit stop– a full course yellow came out about half way through.
Then on the restart I had Jarrett Boon (Elan L1) dive down the outside of me into turn 2. It was the second time this weekend that he’d turned into me. I don’t know why he thought he was going to get around me- even with the extra torque of the L1. I brushed him off until the safety car came out again 4 corners later and really that was that. It was a procession under full course yellow until the chequered flag came out.
It was a shame to end the season under yellow but I think Terry Dale, the Race Director, made a great call. If we’d gone green for a lap I think it would have been on for young and old- probably half the field off at turn 2 and the rest off at the corkscrew.
I’m ecstatic to achieve yet another win here in America and another strong performance for WEST race cars amongst the more powerful L1s. We surpassed our goal of a top ten overall result, finishing sixth.”
The race was won overall by Joel Feinberg (Elan L1).
“I really have to thank WEST, Eric Vassian, Jake Randels, Kevin Takalo, Dan Jang and Randy Aust for all their effort this year.
I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of John Trimble and the Daily Planet back in Melbourne, Australia, the belief of my manager Terry Little and all the sacrifices my mother and father, Jacquie and Mike Drewer have had to make. I also have to thank all those listed on my website and who’s messages I carry on the rear bodywork of my car. I couldn’t have achieved any of this without you. I can never thank you enough.”
Drewer’s results at Laguna Seca means that he has won at every track he’s competed at this year in the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship and now holds five lap records in North America. His Championship win also means he has now taken back-to-back Championships across the Pacific, after dominating the Australian AMRS Thundersports Sportscar Series last year. Drewer is hoping that it is this consistency and speed that will progress him to the next phase of his international career.
“We are currently in discussion with teams in a few different categories. I’m excited by some of the opportunities and I hope that I can gain the necessary corporate support to further my career here in America next year. As they say, ‘watch this space’.”
Article appearing in Auto Action Magazine on October 17. Tom Drewer secured the IMSA Lites Championship L2 Class title after scoring his seventh and eighth win from the season's 10 races, at Road Atlanta on October 3-5.
Driver profile in Auto Action magazine. "To Tom Drewer success is everything. Having won the Thundersports Series outright last year, his dogged determination has got him racing IMSA Lites in the US thanks to Daily Planet and is leading the championship. With motorsport in his blood, once he met his hero Nigel Mansell..."
"...at the age five he realised his future belonged in motorsport too. An Adelaide boy at heart, nothing will stand in Drewer's way of achieving his goal of an IndyCar career..."
A plethora of shots from the Petit Le Mans weekend.
Of note is the L2 Championship winning team of West Race Cars (formerly PVM Racing) in front of the Championship winning Daily Planet car. From left to right: Trey, Jake (Engineer), Dan, Eric (Owner + teammate), myself, and Jim Garrett (teammate). Also of interest is the shot of the 'Drinking and Driving Club' teeing off at Road Atlanta near turn 4 on Friday night. Apparently it's a bit of a tradition to hit golf balls over this circuit and down at Sebring. I was assured they don't do it when vehicles are actually on circuit.
Other shots include my rear bodywork with my supporter decals on display to the passing public, the teams working into the night prior to race day, Angus and Martin watching at the Esses and the winning Audi and second place Peugeot.
Drewer Senior, that is my father Mike Drewer, got back into a competition car after over 15 years on the October 3-5 weekend for the Lobethal Grand Carnival.
The event, created by Tony Parkinson (the owner of Mike Drewer's last competition car, the Richards, and one of my supporters) re-enacted the Historic motor races of the Lobethal Grand Prix, site of the 1939 Australian Grand Prix. The last race held around the 8.65 mile (14km) circuit was in 1948, sixty years ago.
Racing and competition sports cars and motorcycles, predominantly of the 1938-1948 period, took to what was once regarded as Australia's greatest-ever motor racing circuit, a healthy 70 years after the inaugural South Australian GP of 1938.
Mike was driving Tony Parkinson's Elfin open wheeler at the event. Images include examples of the pit-board messages Mike's support crew were holding out. Thanks Newmans!
Australia’s Tom Drewer wins 2008 IMSA Lites L2 Championship at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in USA.
Young rising Australian driver, Tom Drewer has won the 2008 IMSA Lites L2 Championship with a clean sweep at Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Drewer, driving his Daily Planet Racing WEST, won both Round 9 (yesterday) and Round 10 (today) of the Championship taking maximum points, and clinching the title prior to the season finale at Laguna Seca in California in two weeks time.
Drewer’s North American Championship victory has come after race wins at Sebring (Florida), Miller Motorsport Park (Salt Lake City, Utah), Lime Rock (Connecticut), and Mosport (Toronto, Canada) in his first year racing overseas.
The Adelaide born driver has graduated from karting, through the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) domestic categories of Formula Vee, Saloon Cars, and a one-off drive last year in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series before moving to the USA to drive for the factory WEST race team. He also won the Australian Thundersports title last year.
His Championship winning event at Road Atlanta was virtually perfect, setting the fastest L2 time in qualifying for pole with a new qualifying lap record and then breaking the Road Atlanta race lap record in race 1 and lowering that time again in race 2 with a time of 1 minute 22.03 seconds. His average speed around the undulating 4 kilometre circuit was 180kph.
“Leading into this weekend we knew we should be able to clinch the title but its motor racing and anything can happen. My Daily Planet WEST has been fantastic all year and I want to thank everyone at WEST Race Cars, especially my engineer Jake Randels, for all their hard work.
Then yesterday something went wrong with the shift mechanism half way through race 1 and I was having a lot of trouble going up through the gearbox. It was nothing we could have prevented. The team put in a lot of effort to solve the problem and in the end we replaced the entire electronic shift module and actuator. Today the car was back to its best and we just set about having a clean, trouble free race to bring the Championship home.
It really was a case of keeping it clean. There was chaos on a re-start in race 2 when the field checked up, and crashed into each other, and it was a shame that my team mate Eric’s (Vassian) race really ended there. I avoided that and the incident that caused the safety car in the first place.
I set about achieving a good pace early on, but kept it well within the limits. In the end though we closed the gap to the top L1s and I think it really shows again just how fast these WEST’s are given how much extra horsepower and torque the L1s have.
I showed a little emotion on the podium today. This is a long way from my home-town Adelaide, in Australia. There has been so much effort behind the scenes this year. I really wish both my father Mike and mother Jacquie could have been over here to see this. They have sacrificed a great deal so that I could achieve this.
I also truly want to thank John Trimble and the Daily Planet for all their support this year.
I want to also thank each and everyone who has helped me to get to this point. Terry Little for having so much faith in me, Randy Aust (driver Coach), Greg Steer from WEST Race Cars Australia, everyone at WEST Race Cars America, Jake Randels (Engineer) and everyone who has put their names and messages on the rear bodywork of my car. I’ve been racing for all of you. Thanks for being a part of the team. This Championship is for you too, Dad, Terry, John, everyone, we did it!
I’m just looking forward to driving Laguna Seca now, and I hope that my performance and consistency this year can lead onto bigger and better things next season. We have already had some exciting offers and testing opportunities present themselves and I’m hoping we can get the backing for the right option to race in America again next year.
Tom Drewer (Daily Planet Racing WEST) is the fastest IMSA Lites L2 car in the first session at Road Atlanta, setting a time 1:21.712 to be 9th quickest overall.
Drewer, the current Lites L2 Championship leader, lapped the 2.54 mile circuit with an average speed of over 111mph, reaching a top speed approaching 150mph.
"Yesterday was extremely hot. The car's were running at their limit in terms of oil and water temps. We have been trying a few different things so far, but this morning the track came to us, and the changes we made over night."
Drewer's team-mate, Eric Vassian (WEST) was the second fastest L2, lapping in 1:23.586.
Matt Downs (L1) set the fastest time in the session with a 1:19.273 . L1 Championship leader, Jonathan Goring set the second fastest time of the session with a 1:19.409 .
Drewer will be out on track for session 2, later today at 2:50pm (East Coast).