Mechanic Greg Dilione knows about the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Not only has Dilione worked as a mechanic for the Alex Job Racing team for the past 22 years and for almost that many twice-around-the-clock races, but team owner Alex Job doesn’t believe in relief crews, which means the same guys who start a 24-hour race in the AJR pits are the same guys working on the car all night and right through to the last pit stop.
This puts a lot of emphasis on preparation, because if the car breaks it’s the crew that will have to repair it. “You put more worry in before a 24-hour race,” said Dilione, a stocky blond whose tanned, open face is only slightly weathered from the rigors of a race mechanic’s life. “You worry if you have everything you need to make it through the race, all the back-up stuff.”
During a conversation prior to this year’s race, team owner Alex Job pointed to Dilione as if to mark how far the team had come since it was started in the two-car garage at his house in Orlando 25 years ago. “In the early 1990s, we went all over the country racing full time, and it was just the three of us on the crew,” said Job. “Myself, Greg and my wife Holly.”
Despite close-cropped gray hair and gold-framed glasses, the lanky Job, a former driver, is a seemingly ageless member of the paddock at Daytona. “I’ve always had a love affair with this race,” said Job, who grew up in Florida and now has shops in nearby Tavares. His feeling for the Rolex 24 guides Job’s choice of crew members. He only wants those who live for the demands of a 24-hour. “Anybody who can stay with a car that long will do it,” he said. “And love doing it.”
It has been a winning formula. Coming into this year’s race, the Job team had won its class at Daytona and twice at Le Mans, not to mention eight class victories at Sebring and four at the Petit Le Mans, all in Porsche 911s.
It’s a team that knows endurance racing. That’s why two days before this year’s Rolex, the AJR team’s brow was collectively furrowed. One of the quickest Porsches and GT class entries in testing and practice, the Weather Tech-sponsored Porsche went into a nose dive once the weather took an unexpected warm turn. On a balmy Thursday, veteran Porsche pilot Jeroen Bleekemolen qualified 15th for a race where the Ferraris and Audis figured to be fast in addition to the usual bevy of well-prepped Porsches.
By the time the lone night practice that followed qualifying ended, the Job team had lost a full day with a car that was not responding to changes in the chassis designed to catch up with the increasingly slippery Daytona asphalt.