Driver Profile UPDATE – Rob & Robby Foley
7-7-19 Yeahhhhh winners!!!! This one feels good. Thanks to Will Turner and the entire Turner Motorsport team for always giving us a great car and being behind us through up and down! From the pole to a win, what a perfect weekend! Perfect job by Bill Auberlen to bring it home at the end, it’s a privilege to drive with you my friend! I want to dedicate this to my Grandma who passed on earlier this week, this was a good boost for my family. Thanks to everyone who’s sent messages and congratulations, your support means a lot to me. – Robby
2019 Updates in RED – Robby / BLUE – Rob
Rob and son Robby Foley
Name: Rob Foley and Robby Foley
Age: Rob-44, Robby-11
City/State: Randolph, NJ
Profession: Rob – Business Unit Manager for a Civil Engineering Consultant
Robby – Middle Schooler
Robby- College student/Pro race driver/Coach/Instructor
Rob – Still in Engineering Management
Rob – 2005 Acura TSX
Robby – back seat of a school bus
Robby- 2015 BMW 550 MSport
Rob – most days, a 2015 Golf Sportwagen; nice weather, a 2009 Corvette Z51 6-speed
Family: wife/mom Cathy and 10-year-old daughter/sister Steph (and Racer the attack dog!)
Now Leo the new attack dog (RIP Racer) and bigfoot the cat that doesn’t like me.
Rob – Leo is the anti-Racer. Way too friendly dumb ass redneck pit/hound from Alabama
What did you wish someone had told you when you
Rob – Autocross is not something that you are naturally fast at immediately. I honestly think getting up to speed on a track is easier.
Robby – It’s not as easy as it looks.
That’s hard to say because hindsight is always 20-20. I only ever dreamed of racing at the level I am now, I didn’t really believe it was possible. With that I’d say that I wish someone would have told me to pursue my passion early on. The racing world is so unique that everyone has a different path, so a lot of generic advice is irrelevant to an extent.
Rob – I have done W2W, going SCCA Club Racing in 2010 to current, and HAVE found on-track stuff is much more obvious to pick-up.
What year did you first get interested in (or start) autocrossing, and what did you drive?
Rob – 1985, in a 1980 Chevy Citation. Iron duke and four on the floor. Bench seat too.
Robby – Still in my first ride, a 1994 Briggs powered Margay kart.
What kind of car & class do you currently compete in?
Rob – A 1986 Honda Civic in E Prepared. I’ve owned this car since 1992, and originally ran it in DS until turning it into a prepared car in 1995. It was my regular ride through ’99, until I bought a 2000 Celica for ES which turned into GS. The LSD Cooper S put that car to pasture, so I bounced around renting rides, for ’05 Brain Conner’s Elise, and in ’06 Jeff Jacob’s Mini. The Civic got taken out of mothballs mid-’06 and I was transitioned back into it by the middle of this past year.
Robby – The Margay kart. In 2008, I turn 12 and move from FJB to FJA. I’m trying to get Dad to buy a World Formula engine so I can have some power.
In 2018 I competed in the IMSA Prototype Challenge LMP3 Class in a Ligier JSP3 as well as the IMSA Weathertech GTD Championship in both a Mercedes AMG GT3 and a BMW M6 GT3 in select races.
In 2019 I’ll be competing in the IMSA Weathertech Championship GTD Class in a BMW M6 GT3, the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge GS Class in a BMW M4 GT4 and the SRO GT4 America Sprint-X in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
Rob – Occasional autocrosses the past few years in the Vette and Robby’s recently sold BRZ; I have a not quite running 1g CRX road race car that will be HP when I get it going. I’ve been renting a road race STU 2008 Civic Si an event or two a year recently.
What made you choose your current autox car?
Rob – The cheapest race car is the one you already own.
Robby – Dad brought it home. (Dad says it was only $650.)
No current autox cars with the racing commitments, but I’m itching to get back to an event soon.
Robby – No current autox cars with the racing commitments, but I’m itching to get back to an event soon
Who is your biggest influence in the sport? Why?
Rob – I hang around with the Evolution Performance Driving School crowd, names like Johnson, Salerno, Strano, etc. That said since I drive something a little different than their typical rides, I listen and then adjust to how I know my car will react.
Robby – Dad
At this point in my career, I’ve had a few and honestly too many to mention. In terms of the beginning of my career it was my dad who helped point me in a direction that I then had to run with. I’ve had an unorthodox path to where I’ve ended up and I have a lot of people to thank who have helped me along the way.
Rob – Not that much different in terms of influence, but at this point I’m in a different spot in the sport than I was chasing SRS BZNS autocrossing like I was.
Funniest autox/Racing story?
Rob – There was an encyclopedia’s worth back in the early 90’s when I ran with Derek Francis as a team in the red ’86 Civic in DS. We were part of a bunch that included Dean and Neal Sapp, Jeff Altenburg, Brad Klein, among others. The high mark (or low, depending on your point of view), was Dean Sapp streaking across the mezzanine, wearing nothing but a full-face helmet, going behind the backdrop then coming back out, right as his trophy position was being called at the 1992 or 3 Pro Solo banquets. The helmet was my idea.
Robby – Helping Dave Newman set-up the course at the 2007 Pennsylvania State Championships. For two hours……
I have a bunch, but a lot are hard to remember for a variety of reasons. One that sticks out is in 2016 I was spotting for the Mazda Factory teat at the Petit Le Mans. I was responsible for spotting restarts in Turn 1, pit out and the entry to Turn 3. I could get high enough in the practice sessions to see all I needed to so my Dad and I came up with an idea. I ended up standing for 9 hours and 45 mins of the race on his folding grill table at the inside of Turn 2, all to have the remaining car catch on fire and DNF out of a podium position right before the checker. I had a lot of fans give me funny looks that day and my feet still hurt from that day.
Rob – Bicycling the Civic in EP trim at Topeka in 1998. Too many to count on the way to and from events.
Robby – At Romulus Divisionals in 2006, almost going off the wet runway straight into the 4’ high grass at 55mph.
Scary is always a relative term because in the moment you’re always focused. Looking back, I’ve had a few. The most recent was restarting the Rolex 24 in totally untraceable conditions. There was absolutely zero visibility and constant hydroplaning. I was lucky to avoid a big crash. We didn’t even make it a half a lap under green. Another one was a crash I had in 2016 in GMX-5 Cup. I was leading the whole race in the rain and as it started to dry, I started to overdrive and hit a wet painted line. There were a few hard hits, but nothing too serious.
Rob – As the kid says, when something goes wrong at speed time really does seem to stand still and that focus gives you an amazing ability to evaluate options in fractions of a second.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now in the sport? Driving What?
Rob – Probably with what I’m driving now, with several planned improvements. I would like a fast-ish Stock category car, but with two sets of college tuition bills coming up at that point, I figure that is going to have to wait.
Robby – Something with more than 8hp.
It’s very hard to say. The sport is always changing and rarely is there any stability year to year. I’m in a dream position now, so I’m just focused on maximizing these opportunities to hopefully continue at this level.
Rob – Being a grumpy old man driving my CRX in H Production SCCA Club Racing.
What have you learned to help improve yourself as a driver and car setup?
Rob – I knew it before, but slow really can be faster. I focused on a technique for low-grip asphalt, and that really paid off at Topeka this year. I did not touch set-up at all this year, but from what I learned I will be trying some different spring rates based on how the car was behaving by year-end.
Robby – I need dad to buy me new tires more often, like more than once every three years….
There’s so much to list. I’m very analytical in all aspects of driving and car setup which I think has helped me adapt to new cars quickly. I jumped straight from MX-5’s into a 450hp LMP3 car with lots of downforce. This was a big step, but because I understood the theory behind how the car needed to be driven, I could quickly apply it.
I really love working on tuning the car to be better and honestly at this point in my career I think my ability to do that slightly exceeds my speed. I’m still learning how to get everything out of a high downforce GT or LMP car, but I feel comfortable setting them up.
If I had to pick one element of driving, I’d say once I learned how to properly roll entry speed a lot clicked for me. This is all about brake release in relation to steering input and maximizing the grip of the tire. I’d say this clicked for me during my time in Skip Barber MX-5’s.
Rob – I know what I need to do, it’s just a matter of how much time I want to spend vs. just having fun.
Do you left-foot brake? In your opinion how has this helped you?
Rob – Yes I do, and at first when I taught myself this, way back in ’86, it was a big help. Then it became a big hurt, because it is too easy to keep your foot planted on the brake to keep the car all safe and secure feeling. The key is to have it there, but to use the brakes sparingly.
Robby – In a kart you must left foot brake.
It depends on the car. Typically, in cars that transfer weight very slowly I prefer to right foot brake and alternatively I left footbrake in faster cars with a lot of grip.
An MX-5 Cup car I will right foot brake, but GT4 speed cars is usually the cross-over for me. I right foot some GT4 and Left foot others it depends, but all the GT3 and LMP etc. I left foot brake, because everything is happening so fast. I find in these it’s a bit quicker because you can maximize the initial part of the brake zone.
Rob – Same answer today. Front-drive crapwagons react well to the technique.
What can you tell a Novice who is just starting out?
Rob – Walk the course as many times as it takes to remember it and go to as many events as you can get to.
Robby – Learn your ride before you push it.
Listen and learn as much as you can. I could never afford the best equipment or coaching when I first started, but I think my ability to listen helped me a lot. I’m a quiet guy, I don’t say much unless I have something to say, but I always try to listen and learn from others.
Rob – What the kid said. Advice can be golden.
Worst advice you ever received?
Rob – Several offerings back when I was starting out on car selection. Honorable mention goes to Nigel the Yokohama Motorsports Manager back when I was a contract driver for them, telling me to run the crap they gave me off the truck at Nationals.
Robby – Someone told me just have fun and that winning doesn’t matter. Yeah right….
I was once convinced to drive these PWC TCA RX8’s. Oddly there were two separate occasions that were both a disaster. One was a very poorly prepped car and the other the owner ended up being a scumbag and everything went south. The car was still good enough for the TCA lap record at COTA, but to this day I haven’t seen a significant amount of money I’m owed.
Rob – That one was certainly the most expensive……..
Rob – Stay off the brakes!
Robby – My Dad told me it would be slippery on Sunday morning at the Peru Pro Solo when I was leading, and I didn’t listen and lost.
This is cliché, but it’s important to enjoy every moment. Last year I was very stressed and didn’t take time to enjoy what I was doing as much as I should have. I’m making a better effort to appreciate how lucky I am to be living my dream and am trusting that I’m on my own path in life.
Rob – Don’t take autocrossing too seriously, and have fun. I chased a jacket too long without dedicating appropriate resources and time to the effort and it got frustrating.
How much of the sport do you think is attributed to driver skill vs. car setup?
Rob – 75% to 80% driver; the rest set-up
Robby – You could have a great car and a terrible driver and still lose big. Although set-up is important you must have driver skill to win.
At a certain level everyone is good, and it becomes a lot about the car. The best driver in the world simply won’t win the race in an inferior car. Having said that the driver absolutely makes a difference. In the last year I’ve had the privilege to race against some of the best in the world and it’s special to see what top drivers can get out of a racecar. I’d say it’s 75% driver and 25% setup, but it’s all relative.
Rob – No change in my response 11 years later, and the Pro driver agrees with me.
What is it about autocrossing that keeps you interested?
Rob – The people and social aspect of it. The time commitment works with my schedule of late too.
Robby – Driving is my favorite thing to do and going out to eat every night and hanging out is a blast.
I, unfortunately, haven’t been auto crossing much since I started road racing, but in general I love the sport. I eat, sleep and breathe everything about it. It’s really all I think about and most of my time is dedicated to it. I spend hours on the simulator if possible, it never leaves my mind. It’s hindered my abilities as a student, but I do my best to manage.
Rob – I still come out for the people, and it is the most attainable form of motorsports to participate in.
How do you critique yourself, during your runs, after each run/race, or after the event/race?
Rob – I think about it while driving, concentrating on points I’ve established from my course walks. After a run, I will typically only recall the good or bad elements.
Robby – I always remember the difficult parts of the course from my course walks and try to concentrate on all my braking and turning points. After a run I think about the mistakes I made, and I try to correct them.
These days data acquisition is so advanced that to be a successful pro driver you must be very data driven. I review a lot of data and video and try to analyze myself. I have a solid grasp on how to theoretically drive the car the fastest, so I use that understanding to analyze what I’m doing inside and outside the car.
Rob – I’ve done this for long enough I know when I’ve done right and wrong, even at one point being self-aware enough to know how much time I was losing by not being spot on my marks. Not quite that finely tuned these days but the skill used to be there.
What techniques do you use to memorize the course/track?
Rob – Nothing special, just as many walks as it takes.
Robby – I try and pay attention to the course, blocking out all the talking and just focusing on the major points.
Growing up autoxing I would always walk the course, so I try to always walk the track especially when going there for the first time. I also use simulation like iracing to learn a new track.
Rob – Walking, walking, walking.
Would you consider expanding your skills to wheel to wheel racing or even doing a HPDE?
Rob – Someday, but not now. I have done the Time Trial thing way back, and it was kind of boring compared to autocross.
Robby – I might consider it if my Mom would let me. (I think she gave you her blessing)
Turns out my Mom let me, and I’ve been lucky enough to race cars since I was 14. I think she’s happy with her decision as it’s given me a lot of drive, direction and forced me to grow up before my time. It also got me off the family payroll so I’m sure both my parents enjoy that :).
Rob –Well, yeah, bought the then ITB CRX in 2010 when Robby was 13, and here we are.
What trophies or titles have you won?
Rob – Lots, including too many Tours and Pro Solo events to mention, or even remember. But never a jacket. Two times first loser at the Solo Nationals, in HS in 1989 and in EP last year.
Robby – I’ve finished first or second at most every event I’ve run, including a few where I’ve been more than 20 seconds ahead.
Fortunately, too many to count. Now I have my sights set on some GTD podiums and that highly sought-after Rolex watch.
Rob – In 2011 I won the JRB ProIT Championship in ITB SCCA Club Racing. $600 in cash, a nice hat and a really spiffy jacket.
What is your primary goal for the upcoming 2008/2019 season?
Rob – A fitting for something in size XL next September in Topeka.
Robby – Be undefeated.
Win a GTD race and try to make a run at the championship.
If you could race ANY ride imaginable, what would it be and why?
Rob – SS 996 GT3, just because.
Robby – XP C6 Z06, because even though I’m not old enough to drive it, it’s imaginable, but I’d settle for a new chassis with a World Formula engine
Really anything where I can make a living, but ultimately, I think an IndyCar. I really respect the competitiveness of the series and love the cars. There’s fierce competition and the racing is great to watch. Equal to that I’d love to be in a factory program in GT or prototypes. The current DPi formula in IMSA is badass. I wouldn’t mind a few laps in one of those.
Rob – Still want that GT3, but do have a C6 Vette now. I’d say just make the CRX a pointy end Club Racing car.
What was your favorite subject in school?
Rob – None of the choices. Nobody was happier when they got handed their college degree, in engineering at that.
Robby – Academic subject: math; but my favorite is gym because it is the easiest.
I really don’t have one. I’ll be the first one to admit that I hate school, probably because it’s always been a hassle with racing. I’ve always been good at math. I’ve taken most higher-level math’s in my engineering program, but I’ve since had to put that on hold for online classes since my travel schedule has become so intense.
Rob – Same answer!
Did you get any tickets as a teenager when you first had your driving license?
Rob – one, not even for anything particularly stupid. 71 in a 55 on I-78 just west of 287.
Robby – None yet.
Yeah a few, nothing too interesting, just generic speeding.
Rob- I’ll never be a teen again!
What is your favorite-
Rob – Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips
Robby – Steak
Funny enough racing and traveling has allowed me to try a lot of different foods. My favorite is still a good steak with mashed potatoes, but I enjoy all kinds of foods. I lost 70 pounds after my football injury, so I’ve had to be really disciplined, but every now and then I cheat and enjoy food.
Rob – Trying to be healthy, I can’t remember the last potato chips I’ve had. These days, probably marinated and seasoned steak off of the grill.
Non-Alcoholic- Rob – Diet Pepsi
Robby – Milk, Water
Alcoholic- Rob – Good beer, like the Sam’s Cherry Wheat I’m having now.
Robby – Not for ten more years.
Hard to say. Again, racing has broadened my alcohol horizons. I like a good beer, wine or hard liquor drink. My go to now is probably Crown XO and Ginger with a Lemon which was introduced to me by my engineer at Flying Lizard, Jim Bell.
Rob – British Touring Cars, when and where I can find them.
Robby – Any ALMS racing and the Simpsons
Outside of racing it’s a tie between Entourage, Billions and the Grand Tour (RIP Top Gear UK)
Dream Car– (Rob)Attainable= used Boxster S, Dream time= 997 GT2
Dream Car- (Robby)Attainable= BMW 330, Dream time= C6 Z06
I’ve been lucky to drive a lot of the world’s most desirable cars. Out of those I can narrow it down to some dream daily drivers- Ferrari GT4C Luso, Mercedes E63 AMG, Mercedes S65 AMG, BMW M5, BMW M8 when it comes out, BMW Aplina B7
Attainable- BMW 550 MSport
Rob – Attainable= the Vette I have, Dream Time= Still want a GT3!
Other hobbies besides AutoX?
Rob – Home improvement, not much time for any more. I used to be a semi-serious mountain biker way back.
Robby – Playing sports, football, basketball, and baseball.
I enjoy sim racing, golf, sports and hanging out with my friends.
Rob – Work has kicked my ass the past few years, but of late I’ve been swimming as much as 5 miles a week to not be a fat completely out-of-shape old man. That, and traveling to IMSA events.
Some of your favorite Web Sites, car related or not?
Seems these days I spend most of my time on Delta.com or my email, but when I have some free time, I keep up with racing stuff on YouTube and scroll Twitter and Facebook.
Rob – The semi-private secret sandbox brown message board, and Facebook.