Dane Cameron eager for move up to top class
Detroit — Dane Cameron is fortunate his driving ability is much better than his pitching.
Cameron, who will be competing in the TUDOR Championship race May 29-30 on Belle Isle during the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, tossed his ceremonial first pitch just a bit wide and into the dirt prior to the Tigers-Yankees game Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Cameron, a 26-year-old native of Sonoma, California, will be on his game when he competes in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette DP in the TUDOR Championship Prototype class for the Action Express Racing team.
Cameron won the TUDOR United SportsCar driver's series championship last year in the GT Daytona class driving a BMW Z4.
Cameron has since moved up to the top class in the series, competing in much faster cars with better braking and better grip. He joins American Eric Curran in the second Corvette entry for the Action Express Racing Team.
"It's cool," Cameron said. "As a race car driver you always want to be in the fastest car you can possibly be in. I love racing in any shape and any form in any type of car. If it's got wheels and a motor and it's going around a track I'm happy to drive it and be a part of it.
"You want to have the best opportunity you can have to win every weekend so I had a great opportunity last year. It was in GTD but that didn't bother me, it was a great team and a great car. We won four races and we won the championship. It was great year for me, the best year I ever had. Now, to join another great team in Action Express and to move to the top category is a great opportunity for me."
Cameron is in a great situation, joining the Action Express Racing Team which also showcases the defending series champion Corvette of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.
So, what is the biggest difference competing in the Prototype class?
"The biggest difference between jumping from a GT car to a Prototype will be the amount of downforce a car has," he said. "The Prototype car has more grip, more power, more braking, more top speed, but the biggest dynamic in change comes in the races and how you have to work the traffic so instead of being in the back end and always looking in your rearview mirrors and always trying to be afraid of getting hit off the road by a Prototype, now you're that aggressor and you're in that Prototype and everyone else is kind of in your way and you need to get through them as quick as possible.
"I think it's a bit of an advantage to have the experience from both sides, to know what a GT car can and can't do so it helps you understand that. It takes a little bit of time (to get used to) because you're basically judging all the gaps, the timing and the closing rate and everything."
In the season opener, the 24 Hours of Daytona, Cameron and Curran finished fourth, coming back from an early power steering issue which set them back 17 laps. They finished fourth last weekend at Long Beach.
Cameron is optimistic about a strong run at Laguna Seca, the series' next race, the first weekend of May.
Cameron grew up in a racing family. His father Rick is currently an engineer for the Visit Florida Racing, the No. 90 Corvette DP, now trying to beat Dane on race day.
"It's very cool, a pretty special thing and I think we'll look back in a few years and it will be great to talk about," Cameron said. "To race against each other, we both basically have the same car, great teams behind us. I never envisioned that we would be racing against each other. For each of us, we both get paid to beat each other. It's nice to see him during race weekend in passing, share a meal together."
Cameron's uncle, Steve Cameron, competed in the Formula Atlantic class and was a former two-time winner of the 24 hours of Daytona.
"I basically grew up in the back of a racing shop in Sonoma, California," Cameron said. "My uncle had a race shop there for over 20 years. As a kid, basically I would spend weekends and time after school at the race shop with the race team, staring at race cars, sitting in race cars. Racing has always been a tremendous passion for me and definitely the only thing I've ever wanted to do was be a race car driver."
And, there would be no better place than Detroit for Cameron to win his first Prototype race.
"Detroit would be a great place to get a win for our car in Chevy's back yard," Cameron said. "Obviously for us, I'm an American, Eric's an American, we have Whelen Engineering as our sponsor, an American company an American manufacturer so to do it here in Detroit it couldn't be more red, white and blue than that."
Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
When: May 29-31, Belle Isle, Detroit
Notable: the IndyCar series will have its lone doubleheader weekend, IndyCar races run on consecutive days May 30-31 on Belle Isle. The race weekend will have multiple support races, including the TUDOR Championship series event.
Tickets: Start at $35 and can be purchased at DetroitGP.com.