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After Hours: Bob Pittman—The need for speed

“You know how it is for excitement,” says Bob Pittman, executive vice presidentofJacksonville-based R.E. Holland & Associates, professional land surveyors and mappers. “It’s whatever satisfies your need for that thrill, that heartbeat.”

And for Pittman, that thrill and heartbeat comes from racing his ZO6 Corvette and Sportside Silverado truck at nearby drag strips in Gainesville, Fla., and Adel, Ga.

While doing proposals and mapping in CAD on a computer during his working hours can present its own challenges, he finds racing cars a bit more exciting.

Starts and finishes

Pittman got into racing as “just one of those things” from when he was a teenager, starting with fast motorcycles and then progressing into cars. “They say it’s in your blood; you ether like that stuff or you don’t,” says Pittman, who loves it—but took a break from racing when his son was born.

“I kind of quit doing it to spend time raising him and being there for football, surfing, etc.,” says Pittman. “But when he hit 16 years old, you know, ‘car age,’ he got me back into it again and I’ve been doing it again the past seven years.”

Pittman is what they call an ET chaser, where he tries to beat his own time and the times of his friends that all run the same kind of cars.

The gear

Pittman’s 2003 ZO6 Corvette and 2000 Sportside Silverado truck are not your average vehicles—anymore. While they can be driven on a “normal” road, they both have newer LS2 stroker motors, transmissions, and rear ends. In fact, the Silverado truck was Pittman’s daily driver last year.

“It’s super fast on the street, but you can’t give it any gas because it will spin the wheels. You have to gingerly hit the accelerator,” laughs Pittman. He says he is almost to the point where the vehicles are where they are, but he is considering nitrous once he beats his two outstanding times.

“I’ve been sitting here for two years waiting for the perfect air to beat my two times and haven’t gotten lucky yet. So here I am, waiting on fall again,” says Pittman. “With racing, there needs to be perfect air. Cold, dry air is denser and you get more air pack in the cylinders, which create more horsepower. Some days we’d get the perfect air, but the track wouldn’t be open that day or night. So I wait.”

Feel the power

Pittman usually races in the quarter mile, which is where you race in a straight line for time and mile per hour, but not for money. He races in what is called the test and tune. He competes against others, but it is where anybody can run so whoever you line up against is who you race.

“Sometimes you get lucky and it will be a car almost like yours. I’ve actually run a race, gone to find the guy if I didn’t know him, and asked if he wanted to run again,” says Pittman. “That’s part of the fun.”

However, Pittman finds that the most fun is the feeling of racing. “It really is exciting because you are going from zero to 135 mph in 10 seconds in the Corvette and from zero to about 125 mph in 11 seconds in the truck. That is pretty thrilling,” says Pittman.

“And when you are nailing the gas in the Corvette (it’s a clutch), I actually have to give it gas and let the clutch out quickly—it just throws you against the seat real hard and the front end almost comes off the ground and that’s the really thrilling part. It’s like bam!

“But you know what? It’s never fast enough for you. At about half way down, you’re like, ‘Come on, come on,’” laughs Pittman.

First run nerves

One race he enjoys attending is the Gator Nationals, but he says watching it on TV does it no justice. “You have to be there to realize how fast they are going down that track. They are actually going 320 mph in four seconds,” says Pittman. “If you’ve never been to one, you are missing out. It shakes your insides as they go by and you are scared watching them—not for yourself, but that something is going to happen to them.”

Pittman says he was never scared about racing, but admits to getting first run jitters. “I always do get nervous on the first run and I don’t know why. My hands get a little shaky, but by the time I go on the second run I am as cool as if I was sitting around drinking beer or something. I just don’t know what it is about that first run.”

Bob L. Pittman, PSM, is executive vice president of R.E. Holland & Associates, professional land surveyors and mappers. He can be contacted at 904-260-6300 or through www.reholland.net.


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