Team History: IMSA GTP
From the start
Rob and his co-driver, Drake Olson, arrived at Lime Rock for the eighth round of the 1985 season. He inquired about being part of Goodyear's free tire program and was told they had to win the race. They did, and added two more wins that year: Drake and Bobby Rahal at Road America and with Price Cobb at Columbus. Drake went on to win the inaugural Porsche Cup for North America in 1985.
In 1986, Rob ordered a second car, 962/120 and Rob and Price won at Riverside and Sears Point. Price was second in the championship and earned their second Porsche Cup. Virtually every aspect of the Dyson 962 was modified, including a new high downforce nose and air tunnels under the car designed by noted aerodynamicist, Dick Yagami.
James Weaver joined the team at the Road Atlanta race in 1987 and he and Price won the race. The team had four more podiums and won at Watkins Glen and Road America. Price was second in the championship, and took the Porsche Cup, the team's third in a row.
1988 was the year of the Nissan with their eight wins in a row. But Rob took the only two Porsche victories that year with wins at Miami and his victory at San Antonio broke Nissan's win streak.
Rob Dyson: "I talked to Bob Akin and asked him what the story was on these Porsches - they look pretty slick. Bob Akin said, "If you are going to run a car, you have to run a Porsche. They are a bit more expensive, but they have the customer backing and are around at the end. That GTO you are running, first of all it is a lower class car, and you are going to have to build a new car to get it running right, so why don't you just move up." So we worked a deal with Al Holbert to get a 962 from Bruce Leven. I couldn't believe that I had a Porsche 962 of my own. We ran eight races in 1986 and won two of them.
"Alwin Springer, the Andial Porsche engine guy, was a real help to us. He showed us how the engine worked, a lot about chassis set ups, and how to run the car. The other thing was that we were a keen team. Pat Smith was very smart with the basics. We just outworked everybody. We were used to being creative and having to work very hard to make the Firebird work. Smitty and I had the same attitude, even if we were quick, we would try stuff to see if we could go quicker. You don't know if it is going to work, but if it does, great, if not, you could always put it back to where it was, assuming we did not get too radical and put yourself in the hedge or something!
"When we moved into the GTP class, it was just four guys. We added two more and we had a tight knit six running the Porsche effort. We added guys very carefully, and slowly. We put in a lot of effort to make sure that whoever we brought on was very good at what they did. The team evolved and is still evolving today, very organically.
"I raced with some great drivers in the Porsches. I would have raced even more, but my kids were young and many times I would not go to the races so I could be with my kids. I remember going to a race at Sears Point - I had been traveling all week on business and I arrived at the track with a coat and tie and literally took off my coat and tie, put on a driving suit, and strapped myself into the Porsche.
"In 1987, I did two races with A.J. Foyt in his Porsche at Miami and Sebring and after Sebring he said, "Why don't you come and run the Indy 500 with me. No money, whatever you win, we split 70/30 - 70% goes to the crew and 30% to you." I called him three days later and asked if was serious, and he said, "Absolutely." So I thought about it long and hard: he was at the top of his game, he had all the right equipment. I talked to Leo Mehl, the head of Goodyear racing, and he said you could not ask for a better guy, because in those days, A.J. knew everything there was about running that track. But Leo said, "Rob, all I want to tell you is that anything that happens at the Indianapolis Speedway, happens at over 200 miles per hour." And I thought about it when I went home and I saw my eight year old boy and my five year old daughter and my businesses were growing and I would have to take three or four weeks off to go there, so I thought about it and said, maybe I better take a pass on it. That was the difference between road racing and all other forms of racing. The guys I would have been running with at the 500 did this full time and I would have been the only part time guy. With everybody else, that was that all they did - prize money meant a new refrigerator; prize money meant they could buy a new house."