How the Kryderacing duo of Pintaric and Huffmaster decided upon Trans Am
David Pintaric wears his emotions outwardly. He is the kind of man who will happily tell you what happens to be on his mind or express how he is feeling—no matter the subject or audience. Pintaric was proud to say he got a bit choked up at Watkins Glen after winning his first Trans Am pole and will gladly talk to you about his passion for the sport of racing and how deep it goes.
But at the same time Pintaric, for all his sentimentality and gregariousness, is a successful businessman who takes pride in his practicality and common sense. So when it comes down to making a decision, emotion is set to the side, calculations are run and all the facts are laid out to view.
Now, Pintaric and teammate Robert Huffmaster have become fixtures of the Trans Am paddock—Pintaric driving the #57 Krderacing/WRP Investments Chevrolet Corvette in the TA class and Huffmaster in the TA2 #27 Kryderacing/VIR Sec Chevrolet Camaro. While both are still rookies to the Trans Am Series, they have enjoyed a fair share of success in their respective classes. Pintaric currently sits sixth in the TA point standings while Huffmaster is fifth in TA2—with two podium placements to his name this year.
Yet several months ago, the team was still trying to decide what kind of racecar they wanted to run and where they wanted to race.
This is their story, in David Pintaric’s own words. How he and Robert Huffmaster got from there to here, firmly situated in the Trans Am Series.
“This all started when I finally decided that it was time to step up to a pro series.” Pintaric began. “At the time, the series I was looking at the most was the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in Grand Am—with the intent of driving a GS Mustang.”
“I was planning on funding the whole thing myself, with the help of another driver—and typically when you go down that road you’re looking for someone to cover half the cost and split the check. The problem with that is, most of the drivers who can afford to write that check can’t drive worth a lick.”
“So, I came to the conclusion that if I was going to make the commitment to drive in a pro series, I was going to do it right. Which meant I was going to cover 90-95% of the costs and select the driver that I would split seat time with in the interest of being more competitive. Instantly, my first choice was Robbie (Robert) Huffmaster—great kid, very personable, presents himself well and is very skilled behind the wheel of the car.”
“I was going through all the motions and looking at all these GS Mustangs. We were at dinner with Robbie, Ray (Huffmaster’s father) and the Kryders, and I go ‘I just don’t get all that excited about a GS Mustang. It just doesn’t get me going. But, you know, those Trans Am cars are really cool.’ So we started looking into it, and I found I could get a TA2 car and a TA car and it might cost us a bit more up front but we’d recoup the expenses in operation costs over time—simply because it’s less expensive to run two of these cars, TA and TA2, than to run one GS car.”
“The biggest reason behind that is that the greatest cost associated with Continental Tire is the multiple crew members it takes to properly run an event. We can do a race in Trans Am with two crewmembers per car, where in Continental Tire you need seven, ideally eight because of the pit stops. Plus, from a different viewpoint, in Continental Tire you’re sharing one car. What happens if the first guy wrecks it before the second even gets behind the wheel? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“So we’re looking at the two side by side, and it was just an epiphany. Why not get two of these cars, a TA and a TA2? You get more of an impact for your sponsor, with two cars with the same livery, both drivers get to race and it’s less expensive. As a businessman I look at it and go: “Ok, you’ve got sprint races, 100 miles, and you don’t have to worry about a pit stop so you don’t have the logistical concerns of getting an eight person crew there, providing hospitality for them all, making sure you can find enough people who are actually competent and then financing it all. Trans Am just started to make more and more sense.”
“Then, I look at it from an emotional standpoint. The Trans Am cars, especially the traditional TA car, are the kings of the road. Let’s face it; they’re simply the fastest road car in the world. The only things that are faster are prototypes and open wheel cars—that’s it. The impact of saying you’re driving an 800-plus horsepower car that’ll go, on the right track, 200 miles per hour—that makes a significant impact when you talk to people. It raises their eyebrows. They’re some of the finest racecars in the world, who wouldn’t want to drive one?”
“On the other side, look at the TA2 cars, going back to Trans Am’s roots with the Mustangs and Camaros and Challengers, they work with what the Trans Am stands for and they’re built like tanks. You’ve got one-ton truck wheel bearings that are never going to wear out. You’ve got so much brake on the car that the brake pads are going to last a long time. The transmissions are built to go 1,800 miles and a 24-hour stint. And the motors are basically stock LS3’s with a dry sump, so they’re reliable. It’s a great business model for racing. It’s so cheap to run. Did I mention it’s $600 dollars for a set of tires? Are you kidding me? You tell someone it’s $600 for a set of tires their eyebrows raise, most people pay that for one racing tire.”
“When I look at TA2, I see a business model for someone who wants to go into racing and run a reasonably priced program, put in great lap times, race in a pro series, at premier race tracks, with a good field—that’s why people are signing up to do this. It’s exciting. I’m already looking forward to next year even more so, and we’ll probably bring another car into the mix—a TA2 car, just because I think that’s the future for a lot of people.”
“I’d love to bring another TA car, but I think people are wrongfully concerned about the cost of running a TA car. When I got ready to commit to the TA class, I sat down with Tony Ave and talked through the maintenance side of it How long will a motor last? How long will a clutch last? Tires?”
“But you know, you get 1,000 miles on a motor, that’s a good part of a season, the brakes and rotors last two maybe three weekends depending on the track and the shocks don’t wear out any faster than anything else. Even if you do wreck the car it’s so easy to repair because of the way the cars are built. Body parts are easy to find, they’re bolt on and a quick replacement. So I know a lot of people are concerned about TA costs, but to me it’s still cheaper to run one than a GS Mustang, and that’s the cheapest of the GS cars.”
“Then let’s look at performance. It’s night and day. The TA car is, like I said, the king of the track and the fastest car you can have, other than prototypes and open wheel cars. I know I’ve already mentioned it, but there’s a lot to be said for that. The sense that you take in when you drive one of those cars… you get the gear whine, the throttle response, the exhaust rumble— any car guy is gonna love that. It’s everything that anyone wants in racing. Think about when we were all kids, those are the exact noises we made with our Hot Wheel cars. It’s the equivalent of driving your dreams.”
“Finally, look at the series you race in. The Trans Am Series. I don’t mind telling you that I get emotional when I sit back and talk about the people who ran this Series prior to me. When I was young, and going through car magazines and reading about Mark Donohue, George Follmer, Dorsey Schroeder and Tommy Kendall…you’d always sit back and think ‘wouldn’t it be so cool to be able to race in that series?’ Now, I’m sitting here and I’m in the same paddock as Pete Halsmer. I watched him on TV from the old videos and now I can say ‘I know that guy.’ But the history is significant because it is America’s road racing series. It goes back to the mid-sixties and anyone who likes road racing, anyone who likes cars, loves Trans Am.”
“I think that the Trans Am Series is getting more attention. People are spreading the word when they see what we’re doing and what they could do in a TA or TA2 car. There’s enthusiasm for it, and it’s important to spread the gospel, if you will, of Trans Am. I see bigger fields and more and more attention coming in the future, and I’m looking forward to what the Series can do and I’m excited to be a part of it—I’m not going anywhere."