Ryan Pilla, “The Car Doctor,” who operates out of his well-appointed shop on Scuttlehole Road, recently completed a Mazda trifecta, adding a New Jersey Motorsports Park lap record to speed records he had set this past Sports Car Club of America season at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen.
There are two tracks at the Millville, N.J. site — the Lightning track and the Thunderbolt track. Pilla set his record on the way to winning the race, and the S.C.C.A’s Mazda series, on the latter loop.
“No one had ever broken two track records back-to-back,” Pilla said during a conversation Friday. “No one’s ever broken two track records in one season for that matter, not to mention three.”
The 18-lap Mazda Pro Cup race ended in a photo finish. Pilla drafted the lead car coming out of the final turn as they raced toward the line, executing a well-timed slingshot maneuver in the final yards.
“If I’d shot out too soon or too late, he would have beaten me.”
He learned later that he’d set a track record of one minute and 35.157 seconds midway through the race, “almost a second faster than the old record.”
Asked how fast the cars were going, he said, “We were doing 125 on the straight.”
The eight-race season began last January in Florida. Pilla set the Lime Rock record in the spring, and followed that up with his aforementioned record-breaking performance at Watkins Glen, on Sept. 27, and at the New Jersey Motorsports Park, on Oct. 20.
Asked what was next for him, Pilla said, “The S.C.C.A.’s Twenty-Four Hours at Daytona in February.”
“It will be my first time there. We’re going to be rebuilding everything in the car to prepare for it. I’ll be driving the car with four Mazda factory drivers. It’s the 50th anniversary of the race. “
“If we win there, it would be my biggest accomplishment of all time. Just to finish is an achievement. About 100 start the race. Last year, 42 finished.”