For Immediate Release August 8, 1979
EX-LOTUS FORMULA ONE TEAM MANAGER LAUDS CITICORP CAN-AM® AS "ONE OF LAST RACING SERIES WHERE DRIVER REALLY COUNTS"
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peter Henuning spent 1978 in one of motor racing 's most enviable positions : acting team manager for the World Championship winning Lotus Formula One effort.
While Andrew Ferguson managed the Mario Andretti/Ronnie Peterson cars when the team was in Great Britain, Hemming was in charge of the Lotus overseas "road show." Last year, Andretti became only the second American in ·history to wn the World Driving Championship.
This past June, Hemming was lured to North America by Bill Freeman of the Paul Newman-Bill Freeman/Budweiser Can-Am team. He now manages the three-car effort of Keke Rosberg, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Randolph Townsend. Hemming replaces Masten Gregory, who was reportedly made a ''better offer" by another team.
"Now that I've been involved with the Can-Am for a couple of races," Hemming said, "I'm impressed with the quality of competition . It's great to be in a series where six or more drivers race for the lead." Newman-Freeman's chief competition is the First National City Travelers Checks effort of Jacky Ickx and Carl Haas. Rosberg has been involved in a season-long struggle with Ickx for the championship lead.
Hemming possesses a unique perspective from having worked as team managerin two of road racing's more important championships: Formula One and Citicorp Can-Am. His observations are based on experience in both.
"Because of the highly sophisticated nature of Formula One car design, the infinitely adjustable suspensions and vast tire selection, the driver plays less of a role than you might think," Hemming explained.
"The Can-Am's basic car design has remained the same for several years. There is less you can do to make them go faster, so it's up to the driver," he added.
"Can-Am is one of the last racing series where the driver really counts," Hemming continued. "In Formula One, you can have a good car with a mediocre driver, and win a race. If you have a good Can-Am car with a mediocre driver, you get a mediocre finish. But, with a good Can-Am car and an excellent driver, like Keke Rosberg, you win races. It comes down to the driver, entirely, in the Can-Am," Hemming concluded.
Sports Car Club of America Inc P.O.Box 22476 Denver Colo 80222 (303) 751-4900 Telex 4,5° 674 SCCA DVR
HEMMING ADD ONE
Hemming also compared two of his current drivers, Rosberg and EFR, with his former Lotus team drivers, Mario Andretti and the late Ronnie Peterson.
"Keke and Elliott are very similar to Ronnie and Mario, respectively," Hemming said. "Mario, like Elliott, is a nice, sedate guy who will sit there all day, make these millions of adjustments to get it just right, and put the car on the front row. Ronnie, like Keke, would just sit in the car and go fast, no matter what. Sometimes, Ronnie was so fast we'd do everything we could to slow him down. We would very often change to slower race tires, fill his car with petrol to add weight, and send him out to qualify. He'd end up on the pole, anyway. We're trying to do the same thing with Keke, to a certain extent."
"Keke is a real racer. No matter where he is in the field, he will be chasing after you for a position ...even if it means he blows all the tires off and smashes-up the bodywork. Elliott is more like Mario, who nearly always finishes in a very, very good position. "
Hemming's experience isn't limited to that of being team manager. He had some success racing a Mini-Cooper S, Chevron sports racer, and a Mazda in England's Production Saloon Racing category.
His travel agent expertise originally landed him a job arranging Team Lotus' extensive travel program. Under the tutelage of first Peter Warr, and then Andrew Ferguson, Hemming was able to advance to the team manager slot.
Following the 1978 Formula One season, Hemming was determined to retire from racing altogether. "We had some unbelievably high moments at Lotus, with several one-two finishes," Hemming said, "and some unbelievably low moments, of course, when Ronnie was killed. It was that sort of season. When I left the team in December, I left to get out of the motor racing business completely. I was physically and mentally exhausted with the whole deal."
But, after several months away from racing, Hemming spotted an advertisement for a team manager position with Newman-Freeman Racing. Thinking the position might involve Formula One, Hemming applied in a one sentence telegram.
"Bill Freeman phoned me and made an offer for the Citicorp Can-Am I simply couldn't refuse," Hemming explained. "I had to then decide whether to complete my career in the travel business, or go back into motor racing. It was two days before I decided. Even though the offer was magic, I still didn't say yes the first day."
"Yes," he finally did reply, and Hemming's addition to the team appears to be a welcome one. Bill Freeman is seen smiling more often than not, and his only comment has been, "I'm very happy with him."
From Bill Freeman that is high praise, indeed.
SCCA CONTACT : Randy Unsbee, Director of Communications (303) 770-1044