Adam Laws Interview
When Jason Bright started his new team, Britek, he needed a Team Manager. The person he chose
to take on that role was an unknown outside of a small circle of motorsport personnel. Adam Laws
has come from nowhere to be running a V8 Supercar team. Three events in two countries
have been a very big test of his new position.
Adam first appeared in V8 Supercars with Peter Doulman's long-standing team. Through many positions
within the team and last year working on Grant Doulman's, Peter's son, Formula Ford championship
attempt, Adam made the giant leap.
Adam took some time out of his very busy schedule to talk to Conrod.
Michael Shaw: What is your role at Britek?
Adam Laws: Team Manager, which is effectively running the operational part of the business, coordinating a vast array of different items and people to ensure we turn up at the race track on time, well prepared and resourced and ready to race. I also manage all aspects of the team when we are actually at the race track and deal with AVESCO, the IPO and the Stewards as required.
MS: What are the differences between your jobs at Britek and Doulman?
AL: Vastly different scale and responsibility. With Peter’s team I was a “weekend warrior”, helping out because I loved motor racing and could help them with organizational skills, but it was only ever a side line to my full time job. Peter owned and ran the team, I helped out on race weekends and in the lead up to each event. Now many of things he did, I oversee on a full time basis and on a much larger scale, such as organizing travel for 25 people, rather than 5, organizing catering for the same number etc etc. Britek is involved in running 4 cars in 3 categories, so the task we have set ourselves is enormously complex, and that is where most of the difference stems from. It goes without saying that the expectations of the public, Fujitsu and our other sponsors and all other key stakeholders, are much much greater than those with Peter too !
MS: How much interaction do you have with Jason Bright?
AL: Jason is the team owner, and obviously like any team owner is going to have some high level input into structure and finances. On the whole though, Jason is hands off and needs to be so that he can focus on driving with FPR.
MS: How did you get the job with Britek?
AL: By being the best man for the job. Haha seriously, one of the engineers working with the team had worked with me at Doulman’s and suggested the team talk to me. The team liked my combination of skills that included business management and people management, as well as an understanding of Motorsport. I met with Jason in Sydney in early December, and was down working in Melbourne by mid December.
MS: You've had 3 events now as Team Manager, how have you found the job?
AL: If only it was just the 3 events and not all the other days in between! The business came into operation mid December and it has been a mammoth task to set up the race shop and acquire all the enormous range of gear and equipment you need to go racing, as well as find the right people to work in the team. In some respects, the pressure at the race track at event is lesser, or different anyway, than that experienced in all the time leading up to each event. I am loving my job, the challenges of bringing a new team together and going racing in such a public and highly scrutinised environment is something I am really enjoying. As I keep saying, it’s every man’s dream, I have built a big shed, filled it full of fast cars and am getting to equip it with lots of shiny new Kincrome and Caterpillar tools!
MS: You were running 4 cars in total at Adelaide, what affect did that have on the weekend?
AL: That was a very big ask for a team that was effectively brand new and pretty thin on resources. We are on a pretty steep learning curve, and Adelaide accelerated that for us enormously as we identified areas of weakness very quickly and were able to address it for the next event. We paid the price a bit in terms of being fined for a few different things, but we are certainly headed in the right direction.
MS: Could I get a brief rundown of how your 2 V8 Supercar drivers are faring so far?
AL: Matt is performing well, and is great to have on board as he has run his own team so has helped short cut our development in a number of areas. He had two good runs at the AGP and Adelaide, and NZ was also good, though it is not reflected in the scoreboard. Steve also did very well at Adelaide, taking the fast, conservative approach we asked him to. We have to take a conservative race strategy to ensure he comes out well in the championship, as he is not able to run in all of the rounds due to the 32 car limit. He is obviously not ecstatic about having to sit out some of the rounds, but he is doing everything we ask of him and is an integral part of our plans for this year and next.
MS: Did you have any input into the driver choices?
AL: Steve and Jose were already part of the team when I arrived. Matt’s drive was discussed among the key team members including myself, and that will also be the case when we decide on our other driver for the endurance races.
MS: What will be different between going to a normal round and going to the Chinese round?
AL: Not sure where we even start with that one, and probably easier to answer once we have come back ! The logistics is a massive exercise, far more so that any other event. We only have a small airfreight container to fill with our gear, so we have to be judicious in what we can and can’t take. There are also visas and vaccinations to organise for the crew which you don’t normally worry about. Also there is extra expense – some accommodation and flights are paid for by the organisers, but not all. However beyond that it should not be that different than going to some where like NZ. One thing that will be different is the excitement, the whole team is really looking forward to going.
MS: What are your expectations for the team for the remainder of the season?
AL: We need to very quickly get ourselves into a position where we are scoring good points every round. Consistency and reliability are the key ingredients for our season this year. We are not expecting to win the championship this year, but we do want to perform well. Realistically one car in the Top 15 and the other in the Top 20 would be a great first year in the main game, and Jose doing better than his 6th from last year.
MS: You've moved from Sydney to Melbourne for this role, have you been able to settle in well?
AL: Honestly given the amount of hours I and the rest of the team have had to put in to get to where we are, moving has almost gone unnoticed! There has not been a lot of time for socializing or seeing the sights, so I have not had a chance to miss anyone too much in Sydney! Moving does have its challenges, but it has been smooth sailing so far, as Melbourne is a great place to live. I am also not alone in my move, as we have 3 or 4 other crew members from Wollongong and Sydney, so it’s a ready made circle of friends.
MS: Has there been much contact and input from Ford?
AL: Ford is a very significant stakeholder in Britek Motorsport, given they are one of our major sponsors and an organisation that is key to getting this new operation off the ground. We have regular meetings with both Steve Kruk and his successor Ross Booth, and they have come down to the workshop to see how we are progressing. As with all our sponsors, they receive regular updates on progress and are regular visitors to the workshop and pits on race weekends.
MS: How has the new IPO role changed the way the teams work with the stewards and also the application of penalties during the race?
AL: I think having the IPO there has meant the stewards are seeing a lot less of the team managers and drivers, or at the very least are getting more time to focus on the significant concerns rather than some of the petty stuff that goes over their desks. Hard to say whether it is more consistent as yet, since we are still very early in the season, but I do know this much, there is no such thing as a small fine in V8 Supercar racing in 2005!
MS: Where have you sourced your cars from?
AL: Our cars are ex-FPR chassis, Steve Owen’s car being Craig Lowndes’ car from 2004, and Matthew White drives Glen Seton’s 2004 car. Jose Fernandez is driving the BA built in Queensland for David Thexton which only did a handful of miles in practice and qualifying before he moved to Cup Car.
MS: Are you going to be building your own cars in future?
AL: We will certainly be building Britek chassis in the future. That will come once we have settled into the swing of things this year, with a view to being on track in 2006.
MS: How much of the cars are built and prepared by Britek?
AL: At this stage most of the preparation and maintenance is done on premises, with the exception of some sub-assembly (set-up of diffs, gearboxes and the like) and panel & paint. We will bring sub-assembly in-house in the not too distant future. Our engines are built and maintained by Scott Owen, who used to work with Glenn in the GSR days, in his own workshop. Our aim is to also have that in-house by the end of the year with Scott working out of our building. That will pretty much fill our big factory so our panel beaters will have some work to do for a while yet!
MS: Is there experience you would like to pass on to anyone wishing to come up through the ranks and make it to a Team Manager position, as you have done?
AL: I am not sure there is anything specific I would offer anyone looking to be a team manager, other than what I would tell anyone pursuing a career in V8 Supercars. Our best people are those that have significant experience working with purpose-built race cars. So in my opinion the best thing someone can do if they want a career in this category is to get out and gain that experience as a volunteer in one of the multitude of state or national series out there, ideally with something like an open-wheeler or a smaller HPDC Series team, so that they gain relevant experience. That might be done while they are serving an apprenticeship or what ever. I would also say to people to have realistic expectations – not everyone is going to step straight into a job at the top level of motorsport in the country! Reality is a lot of our team, including me, have done it for a lot of years on weekends and after hours before we got our break.