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RON ROLAND


 



The Man Behind The Trophies

10/8 - I was lucky enough to catch up with Ron Roland at the awards banquet held after the West Coast Championship finale at Laguna Seca. Ron is owner/manager of one of the newest Star Mazda racing teams. He was looking tired but very happy.

“I knew that starting this team would be challenging, but I had no idea how rewarding it would be.” That was Ron’s reserved reaction to the news that team driver, Moses Smith, had not only won the Pro Race held that weekend - - he had also won the 2002 Championship for the West Coast series. Further, Matt Kurdock, another R-Sport teammate had earned “Rookie Of The Year” honors. Not bad for a first year team!

The R-Sport team was formed in January of 2002. The organization’s goal for their maiden year was to become competitive and offer an opportunity to their racers to showcase their driving talent.

Moses recounted, “The beginning of this year was very hectic for me. A major sponsor had pulled out, due to other commitments, at the very last minute. So there I was, in January, without a vehicle or a team. Nevertheless, Moses hooked up with Ron and they collected eight poles; seven wins; ten podiums; and all top five finishes.

Moses gives much of the credit for this impressive season tally to Ron Roland. “Ron and the R-Sport Team are able to give me an aggressive car, right from the start. Ron really knows how to develop the maximum potential of our race cars.”

Ron went on to explain his philosophy. “The success of this team can be explained by the three C’s – Cooperation - Collaboration – Camaraderie.” The team has only one more race scheduled for the 2002 season. The Star Mazda North American Series season finale will be run at Road Atlanta on October 12, 2002. Moses is just seventeen points out of first.

Ron and Moses agreed that it is going to be an exciting finish. Moses has had more than his share of dramatic finishes this season. It started in July at the RFK Stadium. Smith managed to bringing home a win, a mere twenty-five thousandths of a second ahead after executing a daring pass on the restart with only two laps remaining.

The next race, at Mosport, Moses qualified second, but stormed into the lead with his aggressive maneuver into turn one at the start of the race. He continued to lead twenty-three of the twenty-six lap race, before an oil spilled on the track caused him to slip back into second. That Smith was running at the front of the field at all is a testament to the dedication of the R-Sport team after an incident in the first official practice session left his Mazda heavily damaged. Working quickly, the crew was able to repair the car without missing a session.

"The guys did a great job getting the car back together and it was just as fast as it was before the incident," Smith said with a smile. This last race, Moses managed the win in spite of losing his right front wing on lap three.

“These last three races have been very exciting, for the fans, the team and for myself,” Moses commented. “I believe that it is tribute to the aggressive nature of this excellent driver development series.”

Ron wanted me to be sure to mention that he still has a position available for the 2003 season. See ya at Atlanta this weekend.

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