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Robbie Davis, driving the #37 MINI of Charleston MINI Cooper, scored a pro series win at the New Jersey Motorsports Park GRAND-AM auto race, while Chip Howell, driving the #55 MINI Cooper Pioneer Racing car sponsored by QSR magazine, set the fastest lap and track record for the B-Spec car class.
Both drivers, who are in their early twenties, have ties to quick service. Davis is the restaurant marketing director for Chick-fil-A at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. Howell, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is showcasing QSR magazine’s “Healthy, Active Lifestyle” initiative by participating in the inaugural GRAND-AM season of the Total Performance Showcase. Each is driving a MINI Cooper built exclusively for racing and share support from MINI of Charleston, MINI USA, and MINI Financial Services Inc.
The race at New Jersey was on the 2.25-mile, 14-turn Thunderbolt course. Davis started on the pole and led for the entire 45-minute sprint race. Howell, starting second, pressured Davis early, but with rules restricting competitors to five tires for the entire weekend, Davis was able to conserve his tires for consistent lap times and lead the entire race. Even so, Howell’s QSR MINI set the fastest lap of the race, which proved to be a track record; still, due to tire wear, he ultimately finished fourth.
Although Chick-fil-A doesn’t sponsor Davis as a driver, he says the company is supportive in important ways. “My store operator lets me have time off for racing. Luckily, not much time has to be requested off because we race mainly on the weekends, and we are closed Sundays. But they would allow me more time off if needed, and that’s a blessing for sure.”
Howell says his story’s a bit different. “I’m a senior at East Carolina University, so school is a big part of my week. But I’m also a video editor, and I’ve helped the magazine create their Ones to Watch videos that run online. Racing is a passion for me, and when QSR gave me the opportunity to support their ‘Healthy, Active Lifestyle’ initiative in this way, I jumped at the chance.”
QSRmagazine supports a healthy, active lifestyle by using its reportage to showcase restaurant operators making improvements to nutritional profiles in the foods they serve. In addition, the magazine reports on chains and other operators that are engaged in supporting “positive play” for youth and adults. QSR’s support of motorsports serves to encourage others to join into the “Healthy, Active Lifestyle.”
GRAND-AM—or the Grand American Road Racing Association—is NASCAR’s series dedicated to organized sports car road racing and consists of three professional racing series: the Rolex Sports Car Series, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and the Total Performance Showcase. The latter is an entry level pro racing series that is using a rules package created by a panel of manufacturer representatives and various race-sanctioning bodies.
GRAND-AM’s next Total Performance race will be at the famous Mid-Ohio Raceway, Lexington, Ohio, in June.
Both Davis and Howell plan to be there.