Dyson Racing Celebrates Thirty Years
It all started at Lime Rock Park for Dyson Racing, 30 years ago
Rob Dyson celebrated the 1983 Memorial Day weekend by entering the Coca-Cola 500 at Lime Rock Park. The Dyson Racing Pontiac Firebird finished 20th overall in the 37-car field, driven by Dyson and Ken Slagle.
Thirty years later, and on a different holiday, Dyson Racing is back at Lime Rock Park. Chris Dyson is following in his dad’s footsteps by starting on the front row for today’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. Dyson Racing is the lone team still active in competition from that 1983 event.
Still active after 30 years, and still going strong.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing and competing against many great teams, car owners and drivers over the 30 years, and it’s been quite a thrill to be part of it,” Rob Dyson said. “We’re the only team still active from that first race, and unfortunately, that’s been the case for a number of years. It’s been interesting and challenging all along. There’s a special thrill when you drive through the front gate of a race track, and you know you’ve got a car on the line and you’ve got a shot at winning it. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to carry that work ethic that we’ve got a shot at winning every race we’ve gone in to. And we’ve won our share.”
Dyson wasn’t confident of victory when he took his brand-new Porsche 962 to Lime Rock for the 1985 Coca-Cola 500.
“I thought we had a pretty fast car and we knew Lime Rock,” Dyson recalled. “Drake (Olson) was pretty quick, and he knew Lime Rock, and so did I.”
Dyson Racing captured the attention of the sports car world that day. The No. 16 white, orange and yellow Porsche went out and shocked the regulars, with Olson taking the checkered flag ahead of the Jaguar of Hurley Haywood and Brian Redman, followed by the Porsche 962s of John Morton and Al Holbert.
That may have been the last time Dyson Racing was considered an underdog. The team captured its first pole the following year, with Olson and Price Cobb finishing second behind Al Holbert’s Lowenbrau Special Porsche 962. By then, the competition was getting accustomed to seeing the Pat Smith-prepared Porsche running up front.
Over the years, Dyson Racing kept up with the times. Winning 12 races and scoring 32 podiums against the factory teams during the years of GTP racing, the team graduated from the Porsche 962 to a Ford-powered Riley and Scott to win 36 races over eight years and several championships. The team then raced AER-powered Lolas, Porsche RS Spyders and then partnered with Mazda, giving the marque its first P2 victory at Lime Rock in 2009.
Like father, like son. Chris Dyson began his racing career at Lime Rock at age 17 and scored his earliest SCCA victories at the circuit. He captured the P1 pole in 2011 and joined Guy Smith in scoring a dominant victory, leading 165 and the 187 laps. Last year, Smith won the pole and joined Dyson for a second-place finish.
Over the years, Dyson Racing’s accolades include 19 championships, 70 victories, 68 poles and 208 podiums.
Friday night, competitors and fans toasted and roasted Dyson and his team’s three decades of racing on the hillside overlooking the circuit.
“It’s been an honor to grow up with the race team in my life and with all the wonderful people in this paddock,” Chris Dyson said. “It has been a privilege that has been given to be. Dad created the platform and it is nice to carry on what he started.”