||Fans of the American Le Mans Series still remember Champion Racing for its
striking day-glow livery, never-say-die competitive spirit, and dominating
performance at the track. From 2004 to 2008 the team won five ALMS
championships, first as a privateer and then as the official Audi factory team in
North America. In 2005, Champion made history by winning the 24 Hours of Le
Mans in its fifth appearance at the French race. The first-place finish by J. J. Lehto,
Tom Kristensen, and Marco Werner marked the first overall victory for an American
team at Le Mans since 1967. Outside endurance racing Champion also found
success in the Speedvision World Challenge series, winning three straight
championships from 2001 to 2003 with drivers Michael Galati and Randy Pobst.
But the real story of Champion Racing is about much more than cars, races, and
victories. A Little Bit of Magic goes behind the scenes to show how the
team evolved from a small group of enthusiastic amateurs into a highly professional
organization capable of winning the world’s most demanding endurance event.
Under Maraj’s guidance, Champion worked constantly to improve its performance
at the track by focusing on preparation and discipline away from it. The team also
excelled at finding the right people and empowering them to meet each new goal—
from drivers like Lehto, Werner, Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello, and Emanuele Pirro
to the engineers, mechanics, and support staff who helped them win.
Along with the team’s many successes, A Little Bit of Magic also documents
the setbacks that the Champion crew overcame on their way to the top—from the
challenge of making a competitive car out of a Porsche-engined Lola prototype to
the death of driver Bob Wollek, whose insight and determination continued to
inspire the team. It also shows how Maraj’s racing ambitions sometimes conflicted
with his status as the world’s largest-selling Porsche dealer, and reveals how a last-
minute decision by Audi led to the Champion team’s demise in 2008.
Produced with support from Champion Porsche, A Little Bit of Magic is a
fitting tribute to the legacy of a great American racing team. Nearly 500 pages
long, the extra-large, fully illustrated book not only tells the Champion story from
beginning to end, but also includes forewords by former Volkswagen Group
executive Wolfgang Dürheimer and legendary Porsche racing engineer Norbert
Singer. There are also personal remembrances and testimonials from drivers Bill
Adam, James Weaver, and Lucas Luhr, team owner Roger Penske, and ALMS director
Scott Atherton, along with many other friends, teammates, and competitors.
Finally, a complete Race Results appendix documents all of the team’s appearances
from 1993 through 2008.