LM24: Ganassi's Mike Hull ready to realize Le Mans dream

LM24: Ganassi's Mike Hull ready to realize Le Mans dream

Le Mans/WEC

LM24: Ganassi's Mike Hull ready to realize Le Mans dream

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Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull has amassed championship victories and major wins at dozens of world-famous venues. During a three-decade span with the renowned American team, Hull has quarterbacked four wins at the Indy 500, 10 combined CART and IndyCar championships, five sports car championships in Grand-Am, six victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and added a win at the 12 Hours of Sebring on Ganassi’s first try.

 
Hull has nothing left to prove in the sport – he could retire at any time, look back on a peerless career, and count himself satisfied with everything he’s achieved. But then there’s Le Mans. It’s the one race that’s missing from his CV, and as he told RACER, the chance to race at Le Mans with Chip Ganassi Racing partner Ford was too great to ignore. For the racer’s who’s done everything, competing at La Sarthe is the one event left on Hull’s proverbial bucket list.
“For the generation I come from, whether we drove racing cars or whether we worked on racing cars, Le Mans was always the attraction – always the big motor race on the world scene – where the best teams and drivers went to France and took their best shot.

“In a way, I guess I’m a bit of a throwback because I want to do things like Le Mans, I want to do things like the 24 Hours of Daytona or Sebring 12 Hour. Luckily we got to go to the Daytona 500 with Chip, which we also won. So it means a lot to be able to do Le Mans at this point in my life.”

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Winning the Indy 500 is the pinnacle for someone like Hull, but if you step outside of America, the potential to capture a victory at Le Mans – with Ford, nonetheless – is too grand to consider, according to the Californian (RIGHT).

“But the reality is, that’s how you’re measured. I don’t know how Chip Ganassi Racing is going to be looked at 20 or 30 or 40 years from today because we’re too close to it. I lived my life at Chip Ganassi Racing for a long time trying to win today, get it done today the best way we can.

“Personally, I never looked at winning from the standpoint of the stature of the event beforehand and when people ask me what it feels like to win those big races, I have to stop and think about it because I’m already working on the next one,” Hull added.

Hull credits his boss for delivering the tools that have made CGR a powerhouse team in IndyCar, NASCAR, the TUDOR Championship and, potentially, as the world’s greatest motor race.

“The reality is we stack all these people together and then Chip provides the resource and the incentive to go race these events,” Hull noted. “I never thought as an open-wheel person that I would ever get the opportunity, because of the age of specialization, to have the uniqueness of the 24 Hours of Daytona, now the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to take our team and do what we do in France. For me, it’s a great experience.”

With CGR serving as the tip of Ford’s spear, Hull praised the other key partners that comprise the Ford GT program.

“It doesn’t matter how large you are, for a project on this scale, you have to have partners that are unselfish,” Hull explained. “The whole program is about partners. That’s how we’ve always operated. Certainly Ford is driving the project. And Ford has great depth in resource just like every other OEM. We have Multimatic as a partner. Roush Yates is a terrific, terrific engine company. They’re not 9-to-5, they are 24-7. If you look at life that way and live your life that way, you don’t look back you look forward. That’s the key to what we do at Chip Ganassi Racing and our partners are the same way.”

The combination of Ganassi and Ford has been a powerful union during two years of action in IMSA. The team’s win at Sebring at 2014 was followed with a trip to Victory Lane at the Rolex 24 in January (BELOW), leaving the biggest endurance race of all as the last big event to tackle.

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Hull has one year to learn what it will take to succeed at Le Mans, and says the Ganassi team will fully invest itself in the task.

“Our plan is underway already, and we have always worked well with sanctioning bodies,” he added. “I think the reason is because we’re not coming in like a bull in a china shop. We try to make the room better as we’re in it. That takes a lot of patience and understanding to understand how they want to operate. The mistake I think they make with sanctioning bodies is they go in with the assumption they’re all the same.

“But in fact, they’re very different. You have to understand what it is they’re trying to achieve. Because then if you do that within their system you’re going to achieve what you have in common, and that is to make the race the best race in the world. We’re just at the beginning of this journey now. It’s hard to say where we’ll end up at this early point, but we’re coming in with full enthusiasm and dedication to the challenge of Le Mans.”

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