View Full Version : Behind the Wheel with David Pozzi powered by Optima Batteries

03-26-2018, 12:22 PM

Editors Note: While this might be a little long, it's hard to summarize a character like David Pozzi in a few paragraphs -- it's worth the read.

You know that one uncle who comes to family Thanksgiving dinner and the occasional reunion, but you never hear much out of him? You know, the one your other uncles tell stories about, but you’ve never actually heard him tell of it himself? You recognize his laugh in a crowd but he’s never the one telling the joke. You never seen him in a tie, but most often in a t-shirt from some elite car event that you saw in a magazine or tv show. When asked a question, your uncle will downplay his involvement or make light of the mundane details, instead of bragging or telling of danger or intrigue.

Now, your aunt – his wife – she’s the one getting the attention, she’s the one performing in the spotlight.


This is as close to a description of David Pozzi as we can come up with. David is a regular guy who shows up at the track once in a great while and kicks your ass – quietly and humbly – but kicks your ass nonetheless.

This just happens to be me riding shotgun on the rare day that David takes a lap. Never walked the track, hadn't been in the car in months and he was on the board, in second place. The whole time I was riding, all I could think was "why is he taking it so easy?"

Because David has been a long-standing moderator on the forum, giving people sound and un-biased advice day-in and day-out, we thought it was time that someone told his story. Now, you cannot tell David’s story without mentioning that David’s wife is Mary Pozzi, the autocrosser of nationwide fame and countless championships. David and Mary met racing SCCA a ‘few’ years ago and their love of cars and motorsports has been the lynchpin in their longstanding marriage. Also, his and hers garages probably hasn’t hurt things either. (we jest...sort of)


David Pozzi has been on record as a member of Pro-touring since 2011 but he remembers being a member long-before when Larry Callahan had a free forum where posts were made, and as new posts were added, old posted ‘rolled off the page and were gone forever’. We’re not going to talk about that dark time in our history.


If we go back a few years, it’s easy to see how David found his love of cars and racing – David grew up on a farm. Anyone who’s grown up in a hardworking family, knows that the only way you get anything is with hard work and paying attention to all the things, all of the time.


Also, you grow up knowing that if something breaks, you must fix it; there is no running down to Tractor Supply and getting a new one. As a self-described row-crop farm kid, David was raised in the Central coast farming town of Salinas, California, around a lot of machinery; he had a natural curiosity that had him exploring the junk pile for entertainment. David admits to raiding the scrap just to find stuff that he could take apart and learn about. From fuel pumps to generators, David autopsied those carcasses and stockpiled an encyclopedia of mechanical knowledge that fueled his love of cars. To this day, he can tell you how to fix just about anything with a motor.

Now, after a lifetime of farming, David has retired and focused on fixing his personal cars instead of tractors and farming equipment. The first order of business post-retirement was a LOLA T-70 that he fully restored and raced in the Monterey Historics.

Present day, in his sprawling garage that sits down wind from the farmland he once cultivated, David is focused on bringing his 1967 Camaro back to life.


In an effort to get more insight on the man of mystery, we asked David a few questions:

What was your first car?
1967 Camaro RS, Marina Blue


How many Camaros have you owned?
I have owned the 67 since new, a 70 SS 396 Camaro, a 68 Camaro, A 79 Camaro, An 85, Z/28 and 89 IROC. Mary had the Fourth Gen Camaro SS but we've had no Fifth or Sixth gens.

What cars are currently in your stable and what are your plans for them?
Mary owns more fun cars than me. I have the 67 Camaro A GMC Yukon & Dodge 3500 Cummins for towing. (And the Lola of course.)

What is the most memorable/favorite car you’ve ever driven and why?
My vintage race car. A 1965 Lola T-70. My hero, Mark Donohue drove one for Roger Penske and many of the greats drove them in the USRRC and Can-Am series. A fantastic beautiful car and FAST! It's beyond my wildest dreams to own it.

[Seems appropriate to insert a 'DUH' here...]

When did you first get into racing?
[I]My first exposure was when I helped my cousin drag race in 1963. When I got my Camaro brand new in November of 1966, I had a choice of drag racing like my cousin or trying autocross. I thought that prepping my car for autocross would allow me to make my car better all-around and it would be safer and more fun to drive. I stopped in early 80's and then started again in 87 through 1991. Then Mary moved to horses (the kind with four legs) and I vintage raced until she got the 73 Camaro, in the early 2000's.


Is there anything on your car-related bucket list?
[I]I'd like to build a Lola T-70 coupe for street driving. I'd love to own a new McLaren, but the expense and complexity might make owning one not as much fun as it looks. The new Mid-Engine Corvette might be just right!

David provides a wealth of information about suspension tuning, geometry and innovation to anyone who needs help. We got some insight on how this came to be when we asked David about a key lesson-learned in his car life:

At age 18, I scared the hell out of myself going down a mountain road at a pretty fast speed. I hit the brakes but also hit a deep pot hole. The car began wheel hopping under braking and I was headed for a curve. I'd put home-made traction bars on my Camaro and they worked in reverse under braking, lifting the rear axle up. I managed to slow the car and got around the curve but vowed to make my car better handling and safer to drive.

It seems like David was into Pro-touring before it was even ‘a thing’.

In addition to providing knowledge to those in need, David has been key in rebuilding and tuning some quite famous cars. Again, quietly working on these cars while their owners and drivers make in-roads in some of the world’s most sought after amateur motorsports events.



We had to ask what David’s most memorable driving experience was. After all, he’s had his hands on several famous cars, his wife’s car notwithstanding. Oddly enough, David’s fond memory did not come from driving a lightning fast historic race car around Laguna Seca but rather he recalled a more easy-going experience.

“Some years ago, we took a beautiful tour down Highway one from Monterey to Cambria, a week or so after Christmas. Mary and I, in her 73 Camaro; the Shipkas in the One Lap Camaro and Steve and Jennifer Rupp in a 2010 Camaro. We had a great time and photos taken by Steve appeared in Camaro Performers Magazine.


Along these lines, we also had to ask David about some of the famous people he’s met over the years. Seeing as the Pozzis live on the central coast of California near Laguna Seca, the Monterey Historics, The Quail, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and other notable automotive events and David has driven events all over the country, he had to have rubbed shoulders with automotive elite.


“I’ve met so many great people, from Herb Adams to Mark Stielow. I had loads of fun working with Steve Rupp on Bad Penny and helping James Shipka with the One Lap Camaro. I co-drove with James in the 2010 One Lap of America race, that was probably the longest and biggest event I’ve run. I’m very proud of how we did on our first time out, with no experience,” David explained. “I’ve driven at the Motorstate Challenge, Run to the Coast, Optima Invitational (years one and two) and really too many more great experiences to list here.”


We reached out to James Shipka and asked if he would say a few words about David and their shared experiences with the One Lap Camaro, James happily answered,
“David is the first guy to offer to help when you need it – on or off the track – and his help with
the OLC in the early days made the car – and me – what we are today.
He has been my mentor and my mechanic,
my teacher and my co-driver and will always be one of my best friends.
The combination of his quiet demeanor, his endless generosity and natural talent
have made our hobby, our sport and our community a better place.
I can’t wait to see him back out on the track in his Camaro soon.”


When asked about his notable finishes and awards, David modestly replied that he’d won the first (2008) Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational driving Steve Rupp’s Bad Penny Camaro! David also added that he placed second overall at the first Run to the Coast having the fasted time on the road course while behind the wheel of the One Lap Camaro. Additionally, David and James’ co-driving skills won them first place in the Vintage American class at the 2010 One Lap of America race. A second-place finish at the inaugural Motorstate Challenge was also achieved with David behind the wheel of Bad Penny.


With all these accomplishments to his name, we had to ask David where he would go tomorrow, if he could go anywhere. In a true testament to his laid-back personality, he did not say COTA or Nurburgring, or even the Tail of the Dragon. David simply said, “Probably another cruise down Highway One with the same group. Only I’d invite more people! Cruising a great car in such a beautiful area, really makes you appreciate how lucky you are and sharing it with awesome friends is icing on the cake.”

That about sums up pro-touring in a nutshell, don’t you think? With all of Pozzi’s successes and accomplishments, we still felt like we were barely below the surface, so we asked him a few more questions.

You provide a lot of solid information on the forum, why haven’t we seen you behind the wheel much in recent years?
I did more driving with Steve Rupp (Bad Penny), so he could do his magazine photography at events. With James Shipka, (One Lap Camaro) I only drove the car to tune it or if he wanted me to enter an event that he couldn’t participate in. I didn't feel it was my job to wear it out or use up his car just for my fun. I gave James all the track time possible to help make him a better driver. When we did One Lap of America together, I wished I'd driven the car more because I was actually a bit out of practice. [editor’s note: We find this hard to believe because you won’t see David for a year and he will jump in a car once and go straight to the top of the leader board.] I drive Mary's car at times, but it takes away from building my Camaro and very rarely at Goodguys, because it would put heat in her tires that wouldn't be beneficial.


Do you modify all your cars?
No, I like my daily driver to be nearly stock. I don’t want to have to work on my daily driver and I don’t want to attract attention with one. Just blend in and go. [The real Stig?]

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing pro-touring builders today? The new cars are SO great these days which makes building an old car less beneficial. In the 70'a & 80's, the cars were under powered and you couldn't do much to them due to smog laws. Building an older car was a way to get the performance of old, but we needed handling and comfort of the new. It costs a fortune to build a top notch Pro-Touring car these days. On one hand we have fantastic products available and lots of choices, but the amount of build work and parts expense is very high. There are very few low buck Pro-Touring cars these days and you can go out and buy a C5 Corvette for way, way less money than building a 67 Pro-Touring Camaro. There is quite a challenge today in selecting the right suspension parts for a build. I love working behind the scenes with companies like Ride Tech, Art Morrison, or Speed Tech. Helping with feedback and suggestions to make their products better and advising forum members what parts will work best for them.


So, what about that 1967 Marina Blue Camaro, you ask? Well, it wouldn’t be a Pozzi creation if the suspension wasn’t top-notch and one-of-a-kind. The current build has an Art Morrison front subframe with LG Corvette drop spindles for lower ride height and some geometry tweaks. Rear is Art Morrison IRS and rear frame rails. There are JCG rear quarter panel bulges and JCG carbon Fiber front fenders for more room and optimal weight balance. We assume that the space will be needed for at least 315 rubber, but David didn’t clue us in on that secret. David is also doing all his own fabrication and body work and will do most of the paint prep. “It’s taken a long time, but I need to do it myself so that it’s done the way I want it,” he confessed. “It won’t be a show car, but it should look good.”

If you could pick two people to provide you with personal racing instruction (separately), who would it be and why? (Don't have to be living) OH! Mark Donohue for sure! George Follmer is right up there on my list, plus, he's still alive! I think Danny Popp would be the best fit for me. He's winning the kind of events I'd like to run my car in. Plus I hear he is a great instructor. He sets the standard in my book & I always watch him run. My goal is just to get my Camaro running, drive it and have fun. I dont expect to win but I might get lucky. I'm 67 years old now so my age is getting up there.

Who would you like to thank for getting you into the hobby or for the continued support?
My Dad for letting me hang around the farm shop and allowing me to learn by watching. My high school auto shop teacher for giving me a good foundation. My cousin Richard for the drag race years. My wife Mary for the constant encouragement, support and always making it fun. Steve Rupp and James Shipka for being great friends and teammates, working with them has taught me a lot.

Well, there you have it. Now you know when David Pozzi offers advice or encouragement on your build, he’s the real deal. You’ll probably never hear so much about this interesting guy but I encourage you to go up to him when you see him at events and say ‘HI’ he is someone you’ll tell your kids you met.

03-26-2018, 03:33 PM
reading me some Pozzi info


David Pozzi
03-26-2018, 04:21 PM
Thanks Suzy! You made even me sound cool! I'm a kinda shy farm boy at heart. The rear tires will be 335's, with 315's on the front. One of the neat things I've had happen at many out of state events is people come up and thank me for my website and advice I've posted in the forums. I feel like I have friends everywhere! I overlooked naming Mary as one of the instructors I'd like to have, she's my secret weapon & I can always count on her to help me.

For future events, I hope to take my Camaro to some Optima and Goodguys events. Just driving it anywhere any time will be enough to make me happy. The Lola, - I'd like to bring it to Road America some day and Vintage Race it there. Vintage Racing it at Laguna Seca has been so fantastic over the years that I can hardly think of anything else cooler to do.

03-26-2018, 05:54 PM
Face it Dave, you ARE cool!

03-26-2018, 07:55 PM
Great story on a class guy! Thanks for the history!

Bob in St. Louis
03-27-2018, 04:14 AM

Ron Sutton
03-27-2018, 05:59 AM
Loved the great article on David. David has had a heck of a life racing.

I read the whole thing. Now I gotta get back to work. LOL

03-27-2018, 07:37 AM
I ask a lot of questions or pose dilemmas I'm facing with my build on the forums and I always sit up straight and pay attention when reading David's replies. He understands that a lot of us can't buy the biggest baddest bling bling part and helps us make the most of what we have on hand and does it in an easy to understand way.

Loved reading a little bit more about David's backstory, thanks for writing and posting the article.

03-27-2018, 10:31 AM
Dave, you have always been a great friend and sound board for advise over the years. All of us in the industry have Dave to thank for all his useful information and insite into this hobby from which we all built from, thanks!

03-27-2018, 11:41 AM
Yep, Dave is a great guy....from "knowing" him from the forums 20 years ago to actually meeting him at Sema in (I think) 2012. Hope to see you again this year Dave! :-)

03-27-2018, 12:07 PM
Great feature! Really enjoyed the peak behind the scenes. It helps that David is such a nice guy and willing to share so much valuable knowledge.

wfo guy
03-27-2018, 06:05 PM
VERY good story. For a man to be respected by his peers is always similar to icing on the cake. Many people do similar things but haven't earned the respect. Kudos, Mr Pozzi. :)

03-27-2018, 06:47 PM
What a great read! Thanks for posting this.

03-30-2018, 06:32 AM
Awesome article Suzy.

Dave, you are the man and a legend. I have studied your website and gleaned much useful information. I even used the Pozzi Big Brakes idea.

Thanks for all the replies to my posts and all the useful advice.

I am eager to see your Camaro out there tearing up the pavement.

03-30-2018, 10:27 AM
Nice read on and even greater guy!!
Dave has helped me get my car together, ridden along, and always has top notch advice.
Proud to know him.

04-03-2018, 03:00 PM
Gee Dave, all this time I just thought were a great guy. You're a Rock Star too!! Nice write up. And it's all true.

04-04-2018, 06:43 AM
Thank you Trackside-Suzy for the great read!

Thank you David for your many contributions to this community, online and in person.

05-12-2018, 05:34 AM
Thank you, Suzy for a fantastic article!

Thank you, David for being so incredibly generous with your wealth of knowledge. You embody the philosophy of the pro touring community. Thank you.