Rum Bum Racing Looking to Settle the Score at Home Track
Last year's Homestead 200 saw the hood pins on the Rum Bum Racing BMW break, sending the hood onto the windshield as driver Matt Plumb was closing in on victory (photo courtesy: GRAND-AM Media)
After making a dream debut in GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition with a win at Daytona International Speedway last year, Rum Bum Racing couldn’t have been more excited to return to Gatorade Victory Lane at Rum Bum Racing’s home track as the series staged round two of the 2010 championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
But a promising day turned into a shocking one as a series of unexpected events conspired to knock the team from contention. However, that tough finish has the team even more motivated to succeed this time around.
Homestead, with it’s tricky mixed oval and road course configuration, is a fine place to call home for Rum Bum Racing. The team commutes to all the races from Florida, with longtime Floridian racing legend Joe Varde calling the shots from the pit box. The team was founded by longtime Miami-area resident Luis Bacardi, giving the team a comprehensive connection to the area that makes winning at home a top priority.
Alas, it was not to be last year. Gian Bacardi opened the race with confidence before turning the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3 to co-driver Matt Plumb, who was powering to the lead with some rough and tumble racing that is typical GRAND-AM competition. Unfortunately, that close contact caused the hood pins on the BMW to break, sending the hood flying into Plumbs windshield as he navigated at top speed in pursuit of another checkered flag.
“I just couldn’t believe it--it was certainly a frightening moment for me inside the car,” said Plumb, who had to try to make it back to the pits without the benefit of sight. “But I had Nick (Longhi, team spotter) on the radio, talking me back in to the pit lane. Unfortunately, we made it all the way back to the pits only to make contact with the wall and that put us out for the day. We were just sick to miss the chance to win at home for Luis.”
Fortunately, the team would still get back to victory lane in 2010. After Gian Bacardi decided to return to school full-time, a mid-season change to the driver line up saw Longhi move from spotter to co-driver for Rum Bum Racing. And to excellent effect, as the duo combined for a strong close to the 2010 season with two wins and a runner-up result. That strong finish to the year, and with Longhi, Plumb, and Varde all set to return in 2011, the shot at a home win is very much a possibility for the team.
“It’d be huge for us to win at Homestead,” said Plumb. “We want to do as well as we can everywhere we go, of course, but that track would be a very special place to win, especially for Mr. Bacardi. As a team owner he has been instrumental in guiding our success, he has been the motivating force behind putting together a truly professional organization. They are such a part of the community and everyone loves a winner so it’d be a perfect result for us.”
And while a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway ranks high on the to-do list back at the shop, it’s part of a bigger goal for the organization--a championship.
“We definitely want to win--that’s the best way possible to gain an advantage over the course of the season,” said Plumb. “We want to build on what we started last year, and we’ve got some amazing support from Luis Bacardi and we have plans for years to come. A win at Homestead could be the perfect thing to kick start our championship.”
Homestead-Miami Speedway continues its rich history of sports car racing with the Grand Prix of Miami on March 5. The GRAND-AM Rolex Racing Sports Car Series returns to South Florida’s 2.3-mile road course to feature the Daytona Prototypes and Grand Touring classes in Race 2 of the 2011 GRAND-AM campaign. Adult tickets start at $25, kids 12 & under are FREE, and all tickets include paddock access and FREE parking. Fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 14x14x14 cooler, with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restock-ing from tailgates. More info is available via (866) 409-RACE or HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.