In the Driver’s Seat with Dan O’Donnell
Jager Racing (JR): Tell us about your car and its major modifications. Does your car happen to have a name? If so, is there a story behind it?
Dan O’Donnell (DO):The car is now a 2004 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII. Previously we had our beloved 2001 Evo VII, but some moron crashed that into a wall at Road Atlanta.
Major modifications? Ohh boy, we’ve got too many to count. Some modifications are secret, only to be unveiled at the track, but we have a few we can talk about. The Fortune Auto Dreadnought coilovers are one of our big changes. We’ve rocked KW Motorsport 2-ways for years, but Fortune gave us freedom of design input and an offer we couldn’t refuse. We are extremely excited to see how they perform on the track. We had complete control on damping characteristics and we think it’ll really pay off.
The engine is a fresh rebuild/redesign as well. Switching from a 2.4L down to a Long Rod 2.2L. Full Manley rotating assembly with crazy improvements in rod/stroke ratio. We’ll rev it an additional 1000rpm to make up for the lost displacement. There is a bunch of detail work going into the assembly and secret sauce stuff that we don’t think anyone in time attack is doing. Power should be a huge increase as well as improved reliability! MA Performance went above and beyond working with Turbo by Garrett and Turbosmart to design a sick nasty manifold/downpipe setup for our new GTX3582R turbo. We’ve focused on efficiency, so we should have cooler EGT’s along with lower exhaust manifold pressures to improve performance. The power plant should be insane, we can’t wait!
There’s much more behind the scenes and a special aero surprise to be released at some point in the future, but for now it’s hush, hush. Keep track of the Facebook page and MotoIQ for updates on the car!
Name of the car? We don’t have one that I know of, but the name of the team
has meaning. The team was sitting around discussing aero, engine, drivetrain, suspension theory, ect… ect… and we just came to the conclusion, with each of our respective talents combined, there was nothing we weren’t good at. We were professional at being awesome and it stuck! This doesn’t translate to dance skills or relationships… we’re pretty terrible at that stuff.
JR: With the car coming off a fresh rebuild after the unfortunate crash at Road Atlanta last year, how do you plan to make the new car better than the last?
DO: It’ll be better in every way we can possibly afford! The car will be lighter, have more power, have more aero, more brake, better weight distribution, better suspension geometry and more! We also bought a track rat Miata to give me more seat and practice time. Not many people know this, but the only times I have been to the track in the last two years have just been for time attack events. We think the lack of seat time in-between events was a major factory in the accident.
JR: Do you have any sort of training regimen (physical or psychological) to prep for racing?
DO: Now with the Miata, there will be more track days in general. Because the team puts all resources into the Evo, no one has had a regular, cheap, track-day car I could use! I also play a ton of basketball and climb at Purdue University’s co-rec. The basketball really helps with my reflexes and decision making on the fly. Climbing is a great way to mix up my exercise while also being really fun. I can’t just run or do weights, too boring for me. We’re also working on a new driving simulator to replace our old one that I drove ALL THE TIME.
JR: What motivates you?
DO: Life is boring without racing, haha. I like being good at something that matters to me. Most aspects of normal life aren’t that fulfilling and racing gives me purpose. Without that, I’d be another meat bag walking around, wasting our resources.
JR: What other drivers in the comps inspire you? Who else (famous or not famous) inspires you?
DO: Jeff Westphal is my hero and hetero crush. Hell, who am I kidding, he’s my gay crush too. It’s very cool to know a professional driver and be able to directly compare his performance in our car versus mine. Usually, it’s initially sobering when someone comes in, knocks two seconds off of my time with no practice and 1lap in the car, but after I stop crying, I see how I can make changes to catch up to him. After that, he knocks more time off and I find the limit of my talent and end up driving off track, but it’s worth it.
I respect so many other drivers, I couldn’t list them all, but from F1, to IMSA, to WRC and even NASCAR, I think there is a lot to learn. These guys and gals are truly amazing. The skills that are displayed are often underestimated and I do my best to watch and learn. I’d really love to go to Top Gear and take out the old Suzuki Liana to see how I compare to the F1 drivers though… I think I can take out Jenson Button at least!
JR: What’s the one improvement you think time attacks in general could make to better the experience/ scene?
DO: Alcohol, haha. I don’t drink at all, but giving people an excuse to drink always helps! I think partnering with WTAC would be wise too, those Aussies know what they are doing and that could help a ton. I always will advocate for Best Motoring style videos following the events as well. I’d also like to see contact being made to race teams. There has to be people chomping at the bit to try out radical ideas with little cost outlays. Time attack seems like an engineer’s dream and I am confused why more aren’t playing.
JR: Who are some of the people or businesses that have really helped you along your journey?
DO: There are too many to list and I’d hate to leave people out. Mike Lewin and Grant Davis, my teammates, have sacrificed so much and put so much work into the team it’s mind boggling. Then all my friends and family that have helped that get no recognition amaze me all the time. Of course our sponsors have gone above and beyond, we’d literally not have anything remotely close to the success we’ve had without them all!
JR: What are your plans for the future with your current car or in auto racing or in the automotive industry? Any other random thoughts, awesome stories, or comments?
DO: The current car will own a lap record at Buttonwillow. A really damned fast time. I’d like to go to major events all over the USA, maybe even WTAC. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. My future plans are to continue to work with Grant and Mike until we are financially capable enough to go buy brand new Honda Civics off of the lot and then do a wheel-to-wheel race with lots of contact just for fun.
JR: Thanks for the insight into your perspective as a driver and as part of Professional Awesome. All the best for the upcoming race at Road Atlanta!
DO: I want to thank all of my Sponsors
All Speed Innovations
Cool It Thermo Tec
Fuel Injector Clinic
Turn In Concepts
Excellent interview ! I know all of the team and they are awesome. Looking forward to the new ride and the new records they will be setting.
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