João Barbosa won the last IMSA race at IMS, while Creech shares a significant race history with one of the winningest junior open wheel teams
JUPITER, Fla. (11 September 2023) – Sean Creech Motorsport (SCM) joins the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in a return to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend’s TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EDT, NBC).
Drivers Lance Willsey and João Barbosa will pilot the No. 33 SCM Focal One Ligier JS P320 in Sunday’s two hour and 40-minute event, and for Barbosa – and team principal Sean Creech – the weekend represents significant moments in each of their racing history.
Nine years have passed since IMSA last took the checkered flag at IMS. The last man standing on the famed Victory Podium? João Barbosa, who led 92 of 108 laps for the victory alongside teammate Christian Fittipaldi, which helped cement their hold on the series championship title. It is a cherished memory for Barbosa, who first learned the history of IMS when he first came to the U.S. from his native Portugal.
“We had a very quick car and great fuel strategy in 2014,” said Barbosa. “We took advantage of all the opportunities we had. It was great to win at Indy and kiss the bricks – it is one of my best memories. Indy is so special and so historic. When I came to the United States, I saw how important the race was and followed it closely, so it’s great to be able to race here ourselves.”
IMS’s open-wheel history is legendary. The Indianapolis 500 – the largest single day sporting event in the world – is one of the world’s iconic motor races. Less well known is the open-wheel history of both Barbosa and Creech.
Barbosa came to the US from Portugal to contest Formula Atlantic, while Creech spent his time balanced between two worlds – competing in a Formula Ford while also working as a mechanic with Dauer Racing. His expertise with racing cars came to the fore in those early days, with most of his contemporaries racing and working on their cars, and he gained a reputation as a talented technician, understanding every inch of a race car.
In 1992, Creech asked fellow driver Dominic Cape to come work on the car at the SCCA Runoffs, and the team captured the Runoffs victory in the Sports 2000 class. Dominic Cape considers the win to be the first for what would become Cape Motorsports – the winningest team in USF2000 series history (the team returned to the INDY NXT series this season.)
“We were good friends back in the day, racing against each other and cooking out together in the evenings,” said Creech. “He had a Formula Ford, I had a FF2000 and we hung out, working on the cars. I got to know his brother Nicholas and father Reggie as well, so when I got the DB-2, I called Dominic to ask if he wanted to come work on it. It was a good weekend.”
Creech was set to go to Formula Atlantic in 1993 but his transporter – with the car inside – was stolen in January of that year. Creech then turned his attention fully to sports cars, working with legendary names like Dauer, Doran, Busby and Colucci before starting his own team. But he has always kept in touch with the Capes.
“We’ve enjoyed seeing their success over the years,” said Creech. “It will be great to have them out to the Speedway this weekend and compare notes.”
The SCM team tested at Indy in mid-July, experiencing the spectrum of weather conditions over the two days – from cold and wet to hot and humid. Both Creech and Barbosa know that weather and traffic will be the two main factors affecting Sunday’s outcome.
“We learned a great deal at the test in multiple conditions, so we have a lot of good data,” said Creech. “Traffic is going to be the biggest challenge – if it rains, that will come into play even more, because Indy gets very slippery very quickly.”
“I’m looking forward to building on the strong result we had at Road America (where the team earned a pole and a second-place finish),” said Barbosa. “We learned a great deal at the test – the first day was hot, the second had rain, so it was good to see how the LMP3 car reacted to the different conditions. Lance did a great job and we definitely fine-tuned the car. The LMP3 car is so balanced, with the brakes and power and handling. It might not have the downforce of the P2 car but it was fun to drive at Indy. Traffic will be difficult, with so many cars – our speed is close to that of the GTD cars so staying out of trouble will be key.”
SCM thanks partner Focal One for its continued support.
The TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks takes the green flag Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Eastern. The race will be broadcast live in the U.S. on NBC. International viewers can watch via IMSA.tv, with IMSA Radio also available at IMSA.com.