ELMS - 19/06/2020 - Jeff CARTER
Eduardo has been the Race Director of the ELMS since 2013 and, like us all, has been in lockdown during the Covid19 pandemic that has kept us away from the racetrack.
We caught up with Eduardo to see what he has been doing over the past few months, how he approaches a race weekend and what he is looking forward to when the 2020 European Le Mans Series gets underway next month.
Q: What have you been doing during the past few months of the lockdown when there have been no race events to attend?
EF: “I have been trying to spend as much time away from everyone as possible, just concentrate on my family. I have had a lot of family time over the past few months, which is excellent. In the kind of life that we do in racing, family time is something that we don’t get very often. So, I have been enjoying that with my grandsons, with my in laws, with my daughters and their partners. It feels a bit like retirement; it’s an odd feeling.
“I have been keeping away from people, as requested by the national authorities, and I have been doing my part. I have been having meetings via Zoom and catching up on some old work.”
Q: What is the first thing you do when you arrive at the circuit for a race weekend?
EF: “The first thing I like to do is to say ‘hi’ to everyone I work with and then see if it possible to go out on track to do a few laps.Before the event I read the reports from the previous year, which helps me approach the weekend with accuracy and to solve some of the issues we had the previous year.I also check to see if there are any changes to the circuit and it’s good to know all the changes so we can inform the drivers during the briefing.”
Q: What time do you arrive and leave the circuit on a typical set up day? Can you describe some of the tasks you do on a set up day?
EF: “For the ELMS I normally arrive on the Wednesday before the race.I travel from my home in Portugal on Wednesday morning and I try to do a lap of the circuit by the end of the day.It is better to see everything before all the advertising is put up on the tyre walls and the fences.It gives me a clearer picture of the safety structures around the track.”
Q: At every event you have a drivers and team manager meetings. How do you prepare the presentation for these meetings?
EF: “The presentation is normally done with my assistant, Lisa, she does a wonderful job and knows exactly what I need to be included on the slides.Things like the pit entry and exit, white lines, track limits and changes to the circuit that may affect the drivers like kerbs and new run off areas.If there is any other information I need to tell the drivers and the teams I will include it.Remember this is the only opportunity I have to talk to everyone at the same time during the weekend.”
Q: How would you best describe your relationship with the drivers and the teams?
EF: “I try to keep things as open as possible because at the end of the day it is not only us in race control working as a team, I also like to feel part of the team with the drivers and the team managers. We are all in the same boat together and at the end of the day if their work goes well, my work goes well too. So, I try to explain to them several times during the year that it’s all about teamwork and we are there to work together.”
Q: Do you also hold a meeting for the marshals and other track officials before the start of the track action?
EF: “In the WEC I do but in ELMS not so much.The workload is different, and the involvement of the marshals is different although the numbers are very similar.If they do a marshals meeting on Saturday or Sunday morning, I will do my best to attend.I try to attend to thank them for the excellent job that they do, remember that they are my eyes and hands on the track so I respect the job that they carry out and it is a pleasure to attend the marshal meetings when I can.”
Q: As the race director you have to remain neutral and impartial during the weekend but, given that you are a race fan as well, have you ever found yourself getting excited about the action on the track?
EF: “Oh yes, very much.I do like racing; I like to see a good struggle on the track and I do get excited with some manoeuvres.But when it goes beyond the acceptable parameters, I have to switch off the race fan part of me and get on with my job and do what is needed.”
Q: Do you have any standout memories from your time as the race director for the ELMS?
EF: “I have so many excellent memories from the years doing the ELMS.It’s a wonderful working team but the first years were complicated.Once everyone understood that we were using the same criteria that we were using in the WEC and at Le Mans and they were preparing themselves for those events, the ELMS became a lot more professional paddock thanks to the work of everyone. So that’s my standout memory on the ELMS which gives me a lot of pleasure and a sense of pride.”
Q: What are you looking forward to the most when we finally go racing again at Le Castellet?
EF: “Seeing my racing family again. It’s been a long time since I have seen them, which was October 2019 in Portimão. I miss everyone, even though we have been talking by Zoom, emailing and some phone calls, but it’s not the same as seeing someone face to face. Then it will be seeing the paddock family, I miss them all. I am really looking forward to Le Castellet.”
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