2013 UF1 Winter Champion – Lee Passehl
Congratulations Lee on winning the 2012 UF1 Winter Championship. This was certainly a tough season with the number of talented drivers growing, especially with a few that are carpet experts. After the first few races, you seemed to be well on your way to an overall victory. How confident were you that you could pull it off?
Thanks Tony. When I decided to throw my hat in the ring and rejoin the UF1 Series this winter, I looked at the list of talented drivers and hoped that I would be able to make the top ten by the end of the season! I was driving a car that I was unfamiliar with and I thought that the learning curve would have been slower. Many thanks goes out to my teammate Ron Schuur and my dad. I was able to get up to racing speed much quicker than I expected. My confidence grew with each race and I knew that if I could remain consistent and not make any major mistakes I would do okay.
Also, congratulations on being the first driver to win 2 UF1 Championships. With both being on the carpet, are you ready to get outdoors and tackle the different track surfaces?
I’m a “rug rat” originally coming from the Midwest and Scotty Ernst’s Trackside Hobbies in Milwaukee. The carpet is where I am most comfortable. I will have a big learning curve to make moving from carpet to asphalt. I’ll have a lot of catching up to do with the guys who have a couple of seasons under their belts on most of the tracks we’ll be racing on. I look forward to the challenge and will do my best, but most of all I’m going to have fun!
While most of the top guys stuck to one chassis all season, you swapped from the Tamiya F104V2 to the TOP Racing Rebel F1. Do you think that move was key to winning the Championship and will you be continuing to use that chassis in the Summer Series?
I saw what a big advantage it was to have both drivers using the same car early in the year when I saw how well Dave Berger and Fred Medel worked together to come up with a good track setup. When my teammate Ron Schurr got his TOP Rebel, he had ordered two cars to have one for parts and a backup. Ron soon realized that he didn’t need a backup car. We talked about the advantage we would have if we could split the testing work and drive the same car. I think the decision to switch to the same car my teammate was driving was a big factor to my winning the Championship.
I currently plan on running the TOP Rebel in the Summer Series, but you never know!
You and team driver Ron Schuur also clinched the Constructor’s Championship, giving Team Patron-Honda their first victory. That must feel good for sure! I understand, however, that Ron will be replaced by Bill Jeric in the second Patron-Honda seat. How did that decision come about?
I am most proud of our Constructor’s Championship because it was Ron’s goal and mine to win this part of the Series when we decided to join as teammates. It was a lot of fun looking at the points and developing a strategy to keep us in the hunt all season long.
Yes sadly Ron will be taking a break during the Summer Series. His motor business (Schurr Speed) has a large following in the off road end of our hobby. As the off road season comes in to full swing his time will be spent supporting his off road team drivers at all of the big off road races. This has caused a scheduling conflict with many of the UF1 Summer Series races due to his commitment to his team drivers. The biggest thing I will miss this Summer Series is the trash talking that would go on between Ron and myself. He always kept things loose:)
I am really looking forward to working with my Summer Series teammate, Bill Jeric. He’s been a part of our “bowling night” buddies and has been working closely with Ron and myself all season long. In a way he’s been a teammate throughout the whole Winter Series. Because of this, I think the transition for both of us will be very easy to make. He is a fierce competitor and a very consistent driver who never gets frustrated.
I’m sure you had quite a few, but what was your most memorable battle you had over the season?
I would have to say my most recent battles with Hideo were the most memorable because they lasted over all three races. Hideo brought out the best in me with my battles with him. I look forward to a rematch!
What was your worst moment this year?
Actually, I didn’t have any really bad moments this season that comes to my memory. I was fortunate enough to never break and managed to be consistent enough to finish in the top 4 every race day.
What was your best moment this year?
1. Winning the Team Constructor’s Championship
2. Winning the Driver’s Championship
3. Beating Hideo Kitazawa in the first race of round 7
What advice would you give someone new who wants to join the UF1 Series?
Go for it! No matter what your skill level, the format is setup for you to enjoy your racing experience with those who are on the same level. Getting to race for 15 minutes three times in a race day will only make you better!
Thanks Lee and congratulations again on the Championship. You da man.