When two-time title holder Kirby Chambliss won in Budapest for the second time, he was quick to thank his team and bring them onto the podium. One of those team members, technician and crew chief Jason Resop, has been by Chambliss' side since the beginning of his legendary career in the motorsport.
"There's an awesome photo of Kirby the second he realised he won Budapest 2017, where he's smiling, the focal point of the picture. But just to the left in the background there is a fuzzy photo of Jason jumping with his hands up in the air. All I could think about is how cool of a capture that was, because Jason's always been right there behind Kirby all this time," says Kayla Layton, team coordinator for Team Chambliss.
Like Chambliss, who worked his way up through the ranks of aviation, from basic jobs like washing planes to becoming one of the best pilots in the world, Resop also got to where he is today – a key member of an elite motorsport team – through hard work, and lots of it.
"He's been an integral part of the team since 2003," explains Chambliss, who met Resop near his home at the airport in Chandler, Arizona. "He started off with air shows and ferrying our plane around. We used to kid that he didn't know how to put gas in the plane back then. But he started taking interest in the mechanics, and it just prospered from there."
The year 2003 also marked the first season of the Red Bull Air Race, and Chambliss was involved from the start, not only competing but providing input that helped to shape the sport. Two years later, Resop's progression on the mechanical side had advanced significantly, and he first supported Team Chambliss on site at the Longleat race in Great Britain on 07 August, 2005. He's been traveling to races ever since. Resop was integral to the World Championship that Team Chambliss won in 2006, and he still keeps learning and helping the team to move forward today. "I've learned tons over the years with the race. I've been fortunate to work with a lot of guys who are still here, and I learned and just picked up bits of information wherever I could. There's a lot of knowledge around here [at the race hangars], and a lot of knowledge at home, too," Resop states.A fresh-faced Resop in 2008
There's been even more for Chambliss and Resop both to learn since race analyst/tactician Paulo Iscold joined the team at the end of the 2015 season. Iscold, a professor and designer of record-breaking aircraft who was formerly the aerodynamicist for three-time World Champion Paul Bonhomme, has worked with Chambliss on his strategy in the racetrack, and has collaborated closely with Resop on raceplane modifications from winglets to engine cooling system changes.
Resop remarks, "Working with Paulo has been a whole 'nother experience, learning to build and draw and create things. I can't even explain it – it's awesome."
And now, after all this time, to say that the champion pilot born in Texas and his technician from Wisconsin are close is an understatement.
"Jason is not only an employee but also a friend. He started working for me when he was only 19 or 20, so I've literally watched him grow up – and grow a beard! Plus he's not only our technician, but I trust him to fly our planes around, and he also flies air shows with me in Mexico. He gives some of the VIP rides, so he does much more than just mechanics," says Chambliss, noting that Resop has earned such aviation certifications as commercial, multi-engine, instrument and flight instructor.
Resop nods. "It's been almost 14 years, and you know, we're basically family. I spend more time with his family than I do with my own." Switching his thoughts to the race win on 02 July, the first for Team Chambliss since 2008, he adds, "I'm really happy for him because he's been trying really hard – and we've been trying really hard. It's been a long time coming, so hopefully we can take this and run with it."
Currently at fourth place in the World Championship standings, Chambliss, Resop and the rest of Team Chambliss have three more races before October's big season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, starting with the Red Bull Air Race debut in Russia's sports capital, Kazan, on 22-23 July 2017.