Age is the one numerical value the motorsports realm overlooks, though numbers rule most of the racing world. For the 2020 season, the pair of 51-year-old men are set to share the seat of the No. 38 Centinel Spine LMP2 for the IMSA MICHELIN Endurance Cup event weekends, the next of which is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advanced Auto Parts. While they started racing later in life the duo’s impressive resumes and on-track performance would suggest otherwise.
Yount, Dallas, Texas, boast 72 sports car race starts having competed in his first IMSA sanctioned event in 2008 in the open-cockpit Elan DPO2 in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series. He continued in the, then, IMSA Prototype Lites until 2015 when he made the jump to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for his first endurance race, the Motul Petit Le Mans. Yount has since competed in three Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring gaining irreplaceable experience along the way. Even so, he is already deep in the tedious process of preparing for the race a month and a half from now.
“The 12 Hours of Sebring is such a long race, especially with the bumps involved,” Yount said. “Based on my past experience with IMSA endurance racing I’ve come to realize how you need to be just as prepared mentally as you are physically. The course itself can be exhausting and as day turns to night it becomes even harder to maneuver so you really need to dial in on the details and stay focused. Thankfully I think we’ll let youngsters take the night shift at Sebring so the pressure is off there but even so anything less than perfect conditions makes the race so much harder than you can imagine.”
Cassels, British Columbia, and Yount not only share an age, but the number of race-starts as well. However, Cassels took an accelerated approach to his racing career partaking in 72 sportscar races since 2015. He received his first taste of racing by competing in IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge from 2015 through 2017. Performance Tech introduced Cassels to prototype racing in 2018 with a Ligier JS P3 in IMSA Prototype Challenge. In 2019, he competed in his first year of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, topping the podium during his debut Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“As a relatively late starter at this level of professional racing I feel that I need to work harder than most away from the track to make up for lost time and experience so that I can push as hard as possible when I am in the car,” Cassels said. “Cardio, weight training and simulator training are very much so part of my routine while I’m home. By far the best, and without a doubt, the most fun part of my training is karting. With all four of my kids being involved in competitive karting, and two of them racing head to head with me in the same class, there is no better way to stay sharp.”
Joining the motorsports realm later in life allowed Yount and Cassels to have successful careers away from the track before delving into racing. Undeniably these diverse experiences are more valuable than imagined as they highlight alternate problems and provide fresh responses from the drivers. They have already taken their turns in the cycle of trying, failing and succeeding in the business world. From this they’ve learned to streamline and troubleshoot issues on the spot, similar to top drivers around the globe, giving them the upper edge on their competition.
Yount directly applies his life lessons to racing both on and off the track as he works with the team to excel.
“I think the biggest thing that transfers over from my career to racing is patience,” Yount said. “I know I’m not there to be the fastest on the track, but rather to perform a job. I’m working towards the same goal as everyone on the team, striving for excellence and results. Honestly, I think this is something that can only be learned over time and through experience both on and off the track.”
For Cassels, his success with Performance Tech has been powered by his viewpoint of situations while still staying young at heart.
“As mentioned, I entered this level of motorsports at a relatively later stage in life,” Cassels said. “This really gives me a different perspective than someone much younger. I think that has allowed me to progress relatively quickly because I can itemize and attack my problems slightly differently than most. Those that know me though, also know that I am still a teenager on the inside. It feels great being back in the Centinel Spine Performance Tech No. 38 LMP2 for the 2020 season. There really is a combination of things that make it even more exciting than 2019 thus far. Having a year in the No. 38 Oreca has obviously helped me understand the car, identify areas of improvement for setup and more importantly identify areas for me as a driver. Ideally, you would like to be able to return to the same team and build on the success from the previous year.”
Cassels belated start to motorsports placed him in a situation not many are graced with; being racing and learning alongside his children. While the motorsports bug is oftentimes passed down through the generations, Cassels has the gift of partaking in the wonder and excitement of each new stage of racing with his family. The trickiest part thus far for Cassels has been balancing the role of father, teammate, and competitor on any given day.
“I am very fortunate to be able to be part of my family’s racing experiences,” Cassels said. “It doesn’t get much better than being able to share a sport with your family that you are fanatically passionate about. Hopefully, they all continue their journey to be talented, assertive, and respectful drivers. I will say that it is tough sometimes trying to guide them with their racing dreams. Being a Dad for me means telling them to pick up their clothes, clean their room, brush their teeth and then turn around and offer some guidance with racing. The last thing at that point that they want to hear from their parent is what to do! In the end, I challenge each of them to push themselves and ensure that they always give everything they have regardless of the situation. My goal is to make sure they have no regrets.”
Since entering motorsports there has been a plethora of odd rules, slang words, and traditions the pair has had to learn. However, the biggest learning curve presented is relishing in every second of each event despite the outcome. The large crowds, flashy pre-race celebrations and fast-paced nature of the sport make it easy to get caught in the mad rush never taking time to withdraw for a moment and take it all in.
In recent years being present has turned into a large goal of Yount’s.
“Every time I stand on the grid for a big endurance race, I have a ‘pinch me’ moment,” Yount said. “Thankfully I am much calmer than I used to be because I know what to expect leading into the race. For the first few years I raced, nervous energy kept me from enjoying a lot of great moments until I looked back on them in the following week. Now I really focus on stepping back and enjoying what’s happening around me.
“The atmosphere and energy on these weekends are electric. It’s wonderful to be a part of. Performance Tech Motorsports is a great group. The team has such a family atmosphere and is full of learning while still having fun which only adds to a great weekend. Cameron, Kyle, and Robert are great guys and we had a blast at Daytona. I’m excited to get back to Sebring to get back to work.”
Cassels follows suit in finding joy in the little moments, even after a rough race.
“Am I having fun,” Cassels asked. “That’s an easy one, absolutely. Although Daytona did not go as we had hoped, sharing the car with Don, Kyle and Robert was a highlight. It’s actually a bit of a crazy story for those that don’t know the history between the Massons and me. I met Robert and Kyle during a Skip Barber race weekend at Road Atlanta back in 2015. None of us ever imagined that we would be meeting again and sharing a car in 2019 and 2020. Although Don and I were on track last year in different classes of cars, and never ran into each other (literally or otherwise, lol), I knew who he was, and it has been great to get to know him a little bit better at Daytona. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Next up for the pair is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advanced Auto Parts at Sebring International Raceway, March 19-21. The already renowned race will run in conjunction with the World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring as part of the Super Sebring Event Weekend. Along with the twelve-hour endurance race, Cassels will also make an appearance in the one hour and 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge Race earlier in the weekend.
Source. Performance Tech Motorsports