No one engine alone can propel Big Red to success. Over the years RJ and the Team have developed a number of incredible power plants built by Larry Mollicone for just the desired effect in whatever competition they choose.
R.J. Gottlieb is the only man who has ever driven Big Red with one exception, the car’s creator Bill Osborne. In 1989 at the age of only 19, he had already set records at two Open Road Racing events: La Carrera Classica and the Silver State Classic Challenge which earned him the dubious title, “The Fastest Teenager in the World.” His prior experience in Pro Stock drag racing, as well as IMSA & SCCA Trans Am and Super Production Road Course Racing, served him well in the pursuit of infamy as the Driver of The Big Red Camaro. But in 1992, though he could have pursued what might have been a fruitful professional driving career R.J. stepped away from the racing scene in favor of business school and working with his father in real estate. Eventually all the Gottlieb’s race cars were sold off except for ONE. In 2003 R.J. returned to California and the lure of speed, and the thirst for conquest reignited the Big Red passion and put him behind the wheel of his legendary Camaro once again. R.J., now in his forties, continues to campaign Big Red in a wide variety of speed contests…both old and new.
Dave Ward is has been involved in the world of motorsports since 1975 when he was but 16 years old. Dave’s vast experience and expertise both behind the wheel and in the pits stand as testament to his love and dedication for the sport, as do his several championship victories in both road racing and drag racing. Dave Ward joined the Big Red Camaro Team in 1989 while he was working for Bill Osbourne of Inland Chassis Design, the creator of Big Reds steel tube chassis. Dave now serves as Big Red’s Team Manager. He is a master fabricator and is in charge of every aspect of the racing operation from planning and logistics to car prep and racing setup. Nothing with Big Red is ever easy. The car has always been a complex riddle as it repeatedly attempts the impossible, but after working on her for nearly 25 years, Dave can unravel the mystery like no one else can.
Larry builds engines the way that a Michealangelo created art, his attention to detail is unrelenting and he is obsessed with perfection. As a former ASAF supplies and logistics specialist Larry came out of the military and went to work in the automotive world and at the time Southern California was a hotbed of motorsports activity. Larry quickly found that he had a talent for building high horsepower engines, specializing in large displacement specialty units used in race boats and his services were in high demand. Over the years Larry has built engines for more legendary drag racers, boats, NASCAR and road racers than anyone can remember. It was Dan Gottlieb who in 1987 saw that there was only one man who would build the engines for Big Red, and Larry has been doing that ever since. Now after nearly 25 years, Larry oversees the engine program for the car, and at the behest of Driver R.J., has developed not 1 but 4 distinctly different engines with horsepower ranging from 850 to a mind numbing 1900. All this in the pursuit of more records at a wider variety of events than possibly any other car that is active in motorsports today. You can always find Larry at any Big Red event working in his element, taking air density measurements, coaxing performance from the engine, or if need be, preparing to help swap in another engine in case of a venue change.
Tim, like Dave Ward, comes out of the Bill Osborne camp and there is no coincidence here. More like a reverence. For Tim working on Big Red is not a job, it’s an honor, and a duty that he takes very seriously. With a custom built car like Big Red there is no repair manual and the knowledge of the inner working of the monster can only come from years of taking her down and putting her back together. Tim has studied every inch and knows Big Red like the back of his hand. He, along with Ward, is in charge of the hands-on Big Red experience and spends more hours in, around and under Big Red than anyone. On race days you will find Tim, the picture of perfect focus, every detail must be checked. A punch list too long to list here. Tim makes sure all of Big Red is in race ready condition and set up to trounce the competition.
As a teenager working in the shop of Bill Osborne (the trend continues) sweeping up debris, running errands and helping out in any way needed what Mark didn’t know at the time was that Bill was building a legend that he would one day carry on and help maintain. Ewing already had a passion for auto racing and prior experience with his father and others who were campaigning in SCCA events. By the early 1990’s Mark found himself in the employ of Dan Gottlieb’s racing operation, Raceway/LA Speed, which housed numerous Trans Am and GT cars piloted by R.J. and other drivers. He attended one of Big Red’s last Silver State runs to see the Camaro do what it does best. During Big Red’s “hiatus” in the Laughlin museum Mark moved away and took up a life in Texas. It wasn’t until 2009 that he learned that Big Red was back and nasty and very, very hungry. Mark showed up unannounced at the 2009 Texas Mile and though R.J. and the Team hadn’t seen him in nearly 20 years they immidiately reconnected and picked up right where they had left off. Though he still lives in Texas, Ewing flies in and crews every race.
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