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Subaru Motorsports:
2012 Q+A


Photo: Brian Cleary



James Han: “After a number of years, our #35 SRRT WRX STI has become a recognizable fixture in GRAND-AM racing’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in the Grand Sport Class. Selecting the sedan body to better help differentiate our road racing efforts from our other programs, we retained the driver pairing of Bret Spaude and Andrew Aquilante.


Two pole positions plus a win at our home track – New Jersey Motorsports Park – came early in the season, but too many near-podium misses due mainly to untimely on-track racing incidents masked the true competitiveness of our car.”



Andrew Aquilante: “The 2012 season has been promising in the sense that we’ve had some good results. Obviously [the win] and the podium have been very good. And we’ve had some very good moments in races. It’s just been through either luck or mechanical failure – wrong place, wrong time. We’ve just sadly had too many of those.


At Daytona, there were too many cars in one spot, and we were a bystander when somebody else made a mistake. Barber [Motorsports Park] – it was mechanical; Bret at Road America – again, somebody else’s mess, and not much we could do about it. In that sense, it’s been good.


Could it have been better? Yes, but we’ve gotten through a lot of the problems that we had in previous seasons.”


Bret Spaude: “It’s definitely been big. We’ve had pretty good success, which included two poles [positions] and track records, too. So our performance is right there.


We wish we didn’t have some of the bad racing luck we’ve experienced, but, overall, we’ve had a solid year.”



What was the highlight of the year for you personally?


Andrew Aquilante: “The win in New Jersey made it.”


Bret Spaude: “Definitely the highlights had to be the win at New Jersey … Homestead … Andrew charging up through the field the last five minutes from 5th to taking our first podium for the GS Program … my first podium. That was pretty exciting to see him do that. 


“Definitely, New Jersey takes the cake. That was just one of those weekends where everything went right. We were top one or two in practice the whole week. Qualified on pole by a pretty good amount and then we went out there and came back from a couple penalties to win in a pretty commanding fashion.


“It had to be the win. You know, we’ve all worked so hard to get to that point, and when we finally got there, it was a pretty good feeling, something that … obviously we all want to experience more and more and more.”


Did you do anything different after you won at New Jersey?


Bret Spaude: “No, not really. I did wear the same pair of socks – I washed them – but other than that …”


Do you mentally go to the track prior to a race?


Andrew Aquilante: “It depends on whether we’re still searching for something or whether we feel confident. “For instance, New Jersey where we won, you’re not doing as much; yes, you’re looking at data, but you’re not as stressed out. So if we qualify 20th and we’ve been off the pace throughout practice, you’re kind of like, ‘What’re we gonna do? What’re we gonna do?’ But when you’re up top, it’s a lot easier.


“It’s why we race, and you also have to factor in that things will happen. For instance, Indy: We didn’t qualify too well, but when we got in the race, we were smart. Bret kept it clean, and I got in the car and we were running competitive times.


“OK, things happen; we got knocked back. Not much you can do about that. You can’t get down on yourself, but you do have to think about that sort of thing.”


Do you drive any of the courses in video games?


Andrew Aquilante: “Used to. Not so much anymore. I mean I used to play a lot of them that had a lot of the tracks, and, honestly, that’s how I learned them. But I don’t play.


“The latest one is iRacing, which has a lot of tracks; they’re very accurate, and cars are very accurate. Obviously, when you’re playing with real cars, you don’t have as much time to play on video games.”


What’s your favorite track?


Andrew Aquilante: I used to like Lime Rock before they repaved because it took some skill, it took some local knowledge and whatnot. I will admit New Jersey is a favorite of mine because we’re there so much and we get to drive it so much. You watch other people who even in our series have a hard time with it. It’s fun to drive around them. So having a home track in that sense makes it a favorite, I would say.”


Bret Spaude: I like Barber. I like New Jersey. Daytona’s always got a real special place in my heart. That’s kind of like our big race and go partying in Daytona and dad has always done extremely well there. Our whole group has always done really well. Between all of us that call ourselves our core little group, at Daytona we have over 150 wins combined. So there’s a good little history at Daytona. I like everywhere.”


What are your thoughts on next year’s season?


Andrew Aquilante: “I think if we can remove the luck issues, I would say we’d be pretty competitive. It’s still tough but it’s a lot closer than we’ve ever been.”


Bret Spaude: I’m excited. Depending on the schedule and how it falls out, we should have some good tracks for us. I think if we can get rid of some of these real monkeys that come and go like our bad luck on a couple accidents that really weren’t any of our doings that we just got involved in.


“Those races should have been top 10s, top 5s, you know, two instances that stick out in my mind pretty vividly, should be top 10 results. That would obviously help us for an overall points position.”


How do you plan to prepare in the off-season?


Andrew Aquilante: “You continue on with your normal routine, whether it’s exercise and whatnot. It’s not as easy to stay in a car, obviously, being from the North and wintertime comes in. So you’re not on track as much as you could be.


“But at this level, you kind of build the confidence in yourself that you can hop in a car and within a few laps be right back at it after a month of being out of the saddle.”


Bret Spaude: “Off-season, you just gotta keep on with your workout regimen. You gotta get in the car whenever there’s an opportunity. Go back and look at old race videos, data.


“The biggest thing is just seat time. You want be in the car as much as you can to keep yourself mentally sharp.”



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