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Dave Maraj’s Magic Season

As the countdown to Sebring continues, a past conversation with one team’s
principal and how he looked back at the past season came as somewhat of a
surprise. Dave Maraj has been a fixture in the pit lane of sportscar racing for a
decade. A quiet but successful man with his Porsche and Audi dealerships in
Florida, motorsport has been a way to promote his businesses. To say how well
he has succeeded would be an understatement. An all star list of drivers have
slotted in behind the wheel of a various assortment of Porsche RS’s, GT-1’s, GT-
2’s and a Lola Porsche under the Champion Racing banner.

However what really put Champion up front on the grid has been their Audi R8 for
the past few seasons. The big breakthrough came last year as Champion Racing
challenged Team Joest all season with the outcome being settled in favor of Joest
at Petit Le Mans by virtue of points. And the there was the podium finish at Le
Mans… so what did Dave Maraj have to say about all of this ?

That was the year that was

DM: “I was quite pleased with what we did with the Audi R8. The races were close
and with a bit of luck we could have taken the championship”

KM: “Le Mans was pretty good result for Champion”

DM: “ It was. There was no way we or any of the other Audis were going to be able
to beat the Bentleys unless they had problems. What was an accomplishment
and that I am pleased with was being the best of the Audis. You have to remember
that they are very technical and there isn’t a great deal that a private team can do to
the car. It depends on the crew and the drivers’

KM: “I am surprised how low key you are about this. After all, you challenged Joest
right down to the last race and his team is one of the great ones”

DM: “The ALMS season was a great one but to tell you what I am most proud of is
what the Champion team accomplished with our Audi RS 6 in the Speed GT
Series. We won the drivers championship and the manufactuers championship
for Audi”

KM: “The RS 6 came about as a last minute deal didn’t it ?”

DM: “ If you mean by how quickly the team got the RS 6’s together, then yes. We
built the cars up in our facility, the chassis, motors, we assembled them. There
was some help from Audi Motorsport but the work was left to us. We received two
bare shells and it was a full team effort to get the two cars ready for testing before
the first race at Sebring, The podium finish was a reward for the hard work put in
by the team. When you consider the competition in the Speed GT series you can
understand why this was so important to Champion. There is nothing better than
building up a race car in your own facility with your team and getting good results.
As good as our season was with the R8 in the ALMS and the finish at Le Mans,
building up the two RS 6’s and winning both championships in the Speed GT was
even better”

So much for the myth of the used car salesman, Dave Maraj has the soul of a true

Kerry Morse
February 2004

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