“As far as my plan for the 2010 season, it’s quite simple, win the championship,” said Phil Lombardi, who has been a fixture on the F2000 Championship Series tour for a couple seasons now. In 2009, he set fast lap at VIR and took a victory at Watkins Glen, the only two weekends he competed in, scoring 138 points in just four starts.
Running For a Title
“I have 25 years worth of racing experience and literally thousands of laps around just about every track we visit next year,” commented Lombardi, who is a Skip Barber Race Series instructor and test driver.
“And I have a great team behind me in Glen Phillips and GTP Motorsports. We have been winning races and championships in FC since we first met back in 2000. We understand each other and have a great line of communication between us.”
Lombardi also noted that adding aero-engineer Nathan Ulrich to the team has been an important building block.
Looking at the seven weekend schedule for 2010 Lofmbardi notes that VIR, Road Atlanta, Mosport and Watkins Glen are on his personal top five favorite track list, and adds that he has thousands of miles around places like Road America and Lime Rock, too.
“I can’t think of a track that will be any sort of a problem for me. Getting the car right for the track should be the only thing to work on.”
Watkins Glen 2009
Arguably the most memorable weekend of the 2009 season, a Watkins Glen victory goes straight to the top of Lombardi’s list of accomplishments.
“Winning Watkins Glen was one of the best moments of my life,” he said. “Not just because it was in front of a large audience, but because up to that point the last three years in the series had been so frustrating with all of the mechanical problems and I had been working so hard and just couldn't seem to get a break.
“It was always something, no matter how hard we worked or how well we thought we had covered all our bases, it just wasn't happening. I knew if the car would hold up, that I could win races. The best part of winning Watkins Glens was that my father got to see me win after all that hard work over the last three years. He died two months later after a three year battle with ALS. It was the one thing that I wanted him to see and he did and for that I am extremely grateful to all that had helped me through the years.”
After chasing electrical problems in his Van Diemen, fielded by GTP Motorsports, Lombardi is confident in the car after his victory at Watkins Glen.
“In 2008 and 2009 I had a car that, for lack of a better word, had seen better days. I completely rebuilt the car for the 2008 season, but had the crown wheel and pinion strip in practice at VIR and the car sat in the trailer for the first weekend. I missed the next three rounds, but made it to Mosport where the car was just slow and eventually failed in the second race.
“What I didn't know then was that there was a host of electrical issues with the car that would follow me for into the 2009 season. When we got to VIR (2009) we had still yet to overcome the problems with the car. We thought that we had fixed any problems, and finishing third in the rain in the opening round seemed to support this, but the next day the problems resurfaced.
“We sent the wire harness out to be bench tested and it came back okay. We got to Lime Rock and had electrical problems on the opening day, followed by losing the engine and that was that. I put a new motor in the car and took it to Watkins Glen, for what would be my last race weekend for 2009,” added Lombardi, who finished second and first at the Glen.
Lombardi admits he may not have the deepest pockets in the F2000 paddock.
“I’m doing all this all out of my pocket and I'm not exactly setting the world of fire when it comes to earning a living,” explained Lombardi. “I have a great job, instructing for Skip Barber, but I'm probably the poorest guy in the paddock. I devote just about every penny I make to my racing. So winning races is not only important to a championship run, but it also is very important to win a little bit of money to help me get to the next round. “
As an instructor for Skip Barber, Lombardi says he gets to work with the best up and coming drivers and has personally coached names like Rafa Matos, AJ Allmendinger, and Conor Daly.
Lombardi explains “Being around all these kids keeps me young and keeps me striving to be better than them. There's not one of them that I don't think that I can beat”
“Next year I plan to be at every race, well prepared and ready to win. I look forward to the competition, the friendships, and the battles. May the best driver win.”