Passion, intensity and tenacity are key traits in successful people. Take Danny Popp, for example. He has won four SCCA Solo II and two Pro Solo II championships driving what else? Corvettes. Is he finished? No way; Danny is chasing his seventh championship driving a '03 Electron Blue Z06. Like many successful champions, the spark that stirred his Corvette passion started when his parents presented him with a plastic replica at age two. Father Herb autocrossed Corvettes, and Danny was quick to join his pit crew. At an early age, Danny started working on Dad's '65 silver coupe and his '72 LT1. This early experience taught him the basics of being a mechanic.
Today he is an ASE-Certified Corvette Specialist for McCluskey Chevrolet in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dad also let Danny start driving his Corvettes in autocross events. Slowly the trophies started piling up. Dad's LT1 netted Danny five of his championships, and the blue rocket is still in the Popp family garage. As Danny continues to gain success, sponsors are taking notice. McCluskey Chevrolet has been a long-time sponsor, but Eckler's Corvette Performance Parts has added their sponsorship to help Danny win another championship. Paul Lesinski, Eckler's Performance Parts Manager, told Team VETTE, "Danny is a racer's racer, and Eckler's is very proud to have him on board to test and validate our new products. In turn, we are very happy to add our support as he strives to win another championship."
Team VETTE caught up with Danny as he was preparing to compete in a Pro Solo National Series event in Ft. Meyers, Florida. Eckler's and McCluskey arranged to have Danny spend two days testing at a private race facility. Car setup and tire testing for a major manufacturer's new performance tire were the key objectives of the test. Danny did not let a minute go to waste. He would run several timed hot laps, check the tire temps and tire pressure, and then let the Vette sit before the next run. Danny and his crew would change to a different tire compound and repeat the test. Everything was written down for future documentation. This testing went on from morning to night with a short break for lunch. The test results showed the new test tire on full tread depth was only a half-second a lap slower than the shaved tires Danny was using in competition. Danny continued to demonstrate, passion, intensity, and tenacity during the busy testing session. Pleased with their results, the group packed up and headed to Ft. Myers.
Five cars were entered in A Street Prepared, including Danny's Electron Blue Z06. The Ft. Myers course was set-up at a former World War II air base. Two different courses were used during the event-one on Saturday and a different course on Sunday. Every time a competitor hit a cone, one second was subtracted from their time. Each day, each class was allowed to run the course three times, and the best time was used for a total score. This type of racing is serious. We watched Danny prepare for his run by watching other competitors on the course and placing tire warmers over all four tires to maintain their heat. Before each run Danny would sit at the starting line with his eyes closed, and he would move his hands on the steering wheel like he was driving the course. How did he do? He won his class by 4.078 seconds, evaded every cone, and missed setting the fastest time of the day by three-tenths of a second! Danny left Florida with a good start towards his seventh championship, and, from what we saw, he is truly a champion. Good luck for number 7!