Behind the Scenes with Toby Grahovec
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Behind the Scenes with Toby Grahovec
By-Sahar Hassani

This season, Classic BMW-Plano driver, Toby Grahovec, has scored one podium and three top-five finishes in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge ST class in his Z4. The talented young driver has scored several SCCA championships and he hopes to score his first in Grand-Am in the near future. Besides racing cars, Toby is an instructor for the Driver's Edge course. He and other professional race car drivers teach teenagers behind the wheel defensive driving in BMWs and Pontiacs(www.driversedge.org). Prior to the Miller Motorsport Park race, the Chicago native gave us sneak peak into his life.

SH: How did you get involved in racing?

TG: I have to thank my Dad, Duane, for getting me involved in racing. Without my Dad and my family's support, I would have never gone into racing. As a kid, I kind of grew up at the racetrack. I went with my parents to watch the Indy 500 when I was two. After that, my Dad was racing Super Karts around the country at tracks like Daytona, Road America, Mid-Ohio, and Road Atlanta in the 80's. As family we would go to all the races. I was kind of hooked from there. I remember racing other kids on my bike around the paddocks at many of the tracks I race at now. My dad stopped racing for a while, until he teamed up with Shane Lewis to race World-Challenge in 96 and 97. That was when I really got involved in racing as a mechanic. I spent a lot of time learning how to build and work on racecars during those years. The best thing about those years; was whenever they went testing I would take my Dodge Neon ACR and Shane would coach me around the track. From there, I started to mess around with karts.

In 1999, I wanted to race in the Neon Challenge, so my Dad and I turned my streetcar into racecar and I went racing. In the 8 races that I raced in the Neon Challenge; I was on the Podium four times. Plus I scored my first pro win at Lime Rock.

SH: What are some of the challenges of racing a Z4 in the KONI Challenge?

TG: The biggest challenge we have had the first half of year is reliability problems from being a new team to endurance racing. The great thing about the KONI Challenge is that the series is so competitive that you have to run almost qualifying times the whole race. This puts major stress on the car and we as a team had to learn what the life cycle of each part is on the Z4 under these conditions. Another challenge with the Z4 is the lack of top end speed compared to the competition. This is caused by the weight the series requires the car to compete at; and the aero drag from running as a convertible.
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