Engineer of the Year: Greg Rice
Running efforts in both the F2000 Championship Series and F1600 Formula F Championship Series is nothing new, but Greg Rice and Rice Race Prep pulled it off with the same driver during the 2013 season with Steve Bamford. On top of a string of Masters Class victories for Bamfords, podiums and more, Rice was awarded the Engineer of the Year award at the Series awards banquet.
Growing up in a race-car-orientated family, Rice scored several Canadian FV titles and raced in the Canadian F2000 series in the 1980s, eventually becoming a hired gun to work with other drivers and teams, and then meeting Steve Bamford relatively recently.
For 2013, Bamford ran a Mygale/Honda in F1600, winning the Masters Class title, and campaigned a Van Diemen/Zetec in F2000.
“Steve decided in February that he wanted to run both Series,” said Rice. “We had the infrastructure and technical development in place for the FF Mygale but nothing for the Van Diemen F2000 car. I had to increase our team capabilities by 45 percent in just six weeks.”
A third place result followed at VIR in the Mygale for Bamford in April.
“We told Steve to pace himself,” Rice added. “As demanding as the situation was for the driver, we had about 10 times as much info to process in the same amount of time. It was busy.”
Rice explained that he set up the team as if they were running two drivers, but still had to make some compromises with the team size.
“Steve is very good at just driving without fussing,” Rice continued. “He has driven about 10 cars on 20 different tires in our four seasons. Often, he is so focused, he forgets to tell us about cockpit problems. As we struggled with the F2000 Van Diemen at times, it never appeared to hurt our F1600 performance.”
On the team side, Carlos Rodrigues was on the Mygale, Marc Warren on the Van Diemen, and Leigh Pherson worked as a common mechanic on both cars and Andrew Spencer was the IT guy, handling data and video.
“We had James Hill, Bill Vallis, and Jeremy Grenier help on occasion when someone was unavailable. We also received technical assistance from the great guys at Chastain/BHA, Eric Langbein, David Clubine, Bill Vallis, and Jeremy Grenier,” Rice said. “Alec Purdy certainly needs to be acknowledged for his contribution to our success. Last fall, I made the decision to take our shock and engineering programs in-house, and we became very dependant on Alec for his technical expertise and experience. He attended some events and provided remote consultation at others.”
Reflecting on the year, Rice pointed to the last-lap June Sprints win as a favorite moment, but also mentioned Bamford’s rain races.
“He races better than he qualifies. He races well in the rain. He wants to beat the best. While Summit was not our strongest performance, shaking Steve's hand after the last race, and thanking the crew, was very special,” Rice said.
As for his keys to running the team: “It’s the same formula used by good teams and successful business. Bring in good people. Provide them with the tools. Find the best way to get them to work together. Work hard.”
For 2014, the plans are still up in the air, but Rice expects to be back with Bamford running double-duty in F2000 and F1600.
“We feel that we are getting exceptional value for our commitment level,” he added.