One of the emerging driving talents from Volkswagens recently concluded Jetta TDI Cup series is JD Mobley, who racked up two race wins, four podiums, and the 2010 Jetta TDI Cup over two seasons of competition.
We spent some time on the phone with JD Mobley to talk about his internship at C.L. Gerhartl and see whats ahead for him in the 2011 season and beyond.
Q1: Your success in the 2010 Jetta TDI Cup championship led you to a last-minute guest drive in the 2010 Scirocco R-Cup season finale at Hockenheim, in which you finished behind ex-DTM veteran Daniel la Rosa and ex-F1 driver Johnny Herbert. This has led to some pretty exciting developments for 2011, right?
I started talking with Clark Campbell (General Manager, Experiential Marketing, Volkswagen of America), and he seemed happy with my initial result and that I was able to race again. We started talking after the race in November to try and figure out everything we could do to get ready for a season in the Scirocco R-Cup. I told them Id like to do a season of the Scirocco R-Cup and an internship with a Volkswagen-related company because, besides racing, Im studying mechanical engineering. Ideally, I was hoping to both race and gain engineering experience as well.
Fortunately, Clark found me an internship at a company called C.L. Gerhatl, an engineering company that supplies parts to Volkswagen Group.
Q2: How much of an adjustment have you had to make to your driving style with a lighter, more powerful Scirocco R?
I did have to make quite a few adjustments from the TDI car to the Scirocco R-Cup car. The biggest difference was that the Jetta was the TDI, which is the diesel, and the Scirocco R is Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The Scirocco R revs quite high compared to the Jetta TDI car. Its much different when you get in a car and youve got to let it rev and just go all the way up to 7,000 rpm.
Another thing that was really different is that the Scirocco R has a shorter wheelbase than the TDI Cup car, so when you turn in, you can actually get some oversteer in a front-wheel car, which is actually really cool and a lot of fun to drive.
They also have whats called push-to-pass. Its basically a button on the steering wheel that every time you touch it, it gives you 50 extra horsepower. It changes from race to race, but for Hockenheim it lasted for 10 seconds and you have to wait 10 seconds for it to recharge. That was really difficult for me to get used to, but it will give you much quicker lap times, about .08 of a second for each push per lap. You have to be strategic in your push-to-pass use since you only have 15 per race and may need some at the end for overtaking.
Q3: The 2011 Scirocco R-Cup season opener was at the legendary Hockenheim circuit. And you have no less than five DTM Cup series veterans in the field. Do you really treat this like any other race or will the nerves be a bit more active than usual?
Its different being a full-time driver in the series now. As a guest driver, youre not too concerned about winning points or anything because it doesnt matter since you cant really get anywhere. Theyll disqualify you at the end so other drivers in the championship get points, so knowing that, just heading into the first race maybe you dont push as hard. I mean, yeah, you want to go as fast as you can, but you dont want to take the chance of not getting any points.
I got seventh overall with two of the legends drivers in front of me, which were Uwe [Alzen] and [Nicola] Larini. But since theyre legends, they count as guest drivers, so I actually got fifth place in terms of points toward the championship after the race.
Q4: What are your goals for your rookie Cup season? Tell us about the success benchmarks youve set for yourself.
My goal for the whole season, except for probably the last race, is to get as many points as I can. Everyone wants to win the race, but if you win a race and then dont finish because youre pushing so hard on the next one, thats actually worse than finishing 5th two times. So I always try to keep that in mind. My goal is to hopefully finish in the top five positions throughout the season, which is very difficult to do. But its definitely how to get your name up there in the championship at the end.
Q5: Tell VW enthusiasts what the ideal development path is for you over the next five years?
Id like to race for the rest of my life, that is my dream. I love racing and live for it, but unfortunately, its always difficult to find sponsors and figure out what youre going to race next season and where youre going to come up with the funding. So Im hoping to find more backers. Ive done well in the Jetta TDI Cup, and I had one good finish and another decent finish in the Scirocco R-Cup. Im hoping that maybe I can do the Scirocco R-Cup one more year and then maybe move to the Porsche Cup and do that for the next three to four years. It takes a lot of time to get experience, get used to the tracks, and adjust to European driving [styles] because they drive much more aggressive than the American drivers.
And then for my ultimate driving dream, it would be to race in the LeMans series, especially the 24 Hours of LeMans.
Q6: What does success look like off the track for you? What are the non-racing goals youve set for your life?
Thats one thing that separates me from most of the other driversno matter how it ends up, Id love to be part of racing, and I think Ive set myself up pretty well. Soon Im going to have my degree in mechanical engineering. Im working toward it now and would actually like to get my masters.
Q7: Final question! Whats your favorite new German food? Or are you having meals vacuum-sealed and Fed Exd in from home? Or will the family be visiting to offer both support and a dose of home cooking now and then?
You know, since Ive been here, I have not had a bad meal yet. It actually surprises me just to say that, but every meal Ive had here has been good. Whether its pasta, schnitzel, bread or cheese. But I guess my overall favorite meal would probably be I dont really know how to say it in German but its a schnitzel with cheese on it. Its great. Probably my favorite thing here. A nice little German meal.
Thanks again for all your time and best of luck starting your Scirocco R-Cup career. We look forward to checking in with you later this season to see how its going.
It was great talking with you guys, and I hope the Volkswagen Enthusiasts find it interesting.
VW enthusiasts can catch the racing action online from the 2011 Scirocco R-Cup season at: