An Original ASH "Through The Esses" Column
The Magic Will Come For The Crawford -
But Doran Chooses An Old Black Hat For Now
© Andrew S. Hartwell

One never knows which way the wind will blow.  If you are designing a racecar, you want the wind to pass swiftly over and around your creation without slowing it down.  But you also want to harness some of that wind in the form of purposeful resistance to keep your creation adhering to the track.  The trick is to find the right balance of good and bad.

Can there be any greater magic performed than to achieve aerodynamic perfection?  Even the ever-skeptical 'Amazing Randy'  a man who has spent a lifetime debunking mystics and magicians of ill repute - would have to concede that this is one trick you can't do with mirrors and tape.  If you can make your car 'fly' through the air while keeping it stable on the ground, you have truly performed magic.

But if you want to make magic happen, you have to pay your dues. How much time and effort you want to invest is a question only your determination can define.  Kevin Doran wants magic, but he wants it to happen sooner rather than later. He doesn't want to wait.

In a recent press release, Doran notified Max Crawford, manufacturer of the Crawford SSC2K car, that he is changing to his Ferrari 333SP chassis for the next three Grand American Road Racing Association races.  Doran wants to win a race this season.  In a prior feature that appeared in AllRace Magazine, Doran said that the SSC2K suffers from too much drag, or wind resistance, and that it would be an amazing feat were the car to be competitive by the next race at Watkins Glen.

Well now Doran has made the Crawford disappear.  Just like magic. Black magic.

In a release appearing on the Grand Am website, Doran expressed his desire to put winning now ahead of potentially winning tomorrow when he said of the Ferrari.  "It's a fast car. It's a known performer - its won races and that is what we want right now. It's won the big ones like the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen. It's won the sprints. This is a veteran car, so to speak. It's dependable, consistent and we know it well. Doran/Lista Racing has high expectations - we want to win. We know the Ferrari is a winner."

But what of the vanished Crawford?  Has it gone away like a rabbit pulled too many times from the hat?

As the amazing Randy would say, 'Don't ever believe that'!

Max Crawford, who along with designer Andrew Scriven created the Crawford SSC2K, isn't about to let wind resistance or the black magic of aerodynamics stop him.

Crawford and Scriven, along with Max's life partner and his biggest supporter, wife Jan, have made plans to further develop the car beginning with a return to the wind tunnel.  They will take a revised scale model of the Crawford SSC2K to the new ARC (Auto Research Center) wind tunnel in Mooresville, N.C., for comprehensive testing.  The determined trio sees this move as "an opportunity to further refine the aerodynamic package of the car."

You don't perform great magic without a lot of practice.  Practice makes perfect.  It also makes for one tired magician and his assistants.

The move by Doran was a surprise to Crawford.  "We didn't see this coming.  Of course we are disappointed with Kevin's decision to change cars (by the next race at Watkin's Glen), but we have been under the gun the entire time. This will give us a chance to go back to the wind tunnel and do some work that we could not accomplish when we were working 24/7 to develop the actual car on a race-to-race basis."

Doran seems to feel the same way. "This way, time is now on the Crawford side to improve their car in a methodical fashion as opposed to the half-steps we were doing in between and during races. It will take longer to get it together if we continue the way we were doing it. Now they can make a giant leap forward to a competitive final product without having to stop midstream to race the car."

The folks at Reynard can tell you all about getting a new car to run the way it needs to.  Seems the magic couldn't be found in their sportscar the 2KQ.  But the brains at Crawford Composites know they just haven't reached into the hat far enough yet, despite being up almost to the armpit already.

Crawford sees a potential "blessing in disguise" in this announcement. "We will go to the wind tunnel to re-establish the baseline.  We will then go back to the tunnel again once we have established the direction that we want to take with the (further) development of the car. This extra time will aid not only Kevin the next time he plans to race the SSC2K, but also any potential buyers of the car."

The SSC2K has been a wee bit off the pace and this move could be the catalyst needed to 'speed things up'.  When you work as hard as Max Crawford has, putting so much of your time and energy into bringing a dream to fruition, sometimes stepping back from the stress of deadlines can open up new opportunities that tired eyes can't see.

Doran. "We are disappointed that the Crawford hasn't won, but eventually it will become a fast car. From a business standpoint, it was a collective agreement between Fredy, Didier and myself that the Ferrari Judd makes more sense to run right now. That is not to say we won't run the Crawford in the future. We've put way to much time and energy in that car to just give up. It's not in any one of our natures to give something up just because it's not a winner yet."

The same can be said of Max and Jan Crawford.   They are not about to give up learning the next trick; the trick that will put their act center stage where every hard working team belongs to be seen. The SSC2K will reappear and the cheers will ring out.

And then maybe, just maybe, Max, Jan and Andy can get some sleep!

From Issue AR 09
Updated: January 16, 2006