Brad Kettler – Audi’s Wizard

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” – The Wizard of Oz

Brad Kettler is the man behind the curtain at Audi, unknown to most people outside of motorsport, but well known and respected by virtually everyone within the sport.

From his early days in professional motorsport, from the IMSA days with Essex Racing, IMSA Lights Championships in 1988 and 1989, operating the Porsche parts truck at IMSA races, directing Champion Racing to greatness, to his current role as senior consultant for Audi Motorsport, Brad has earned the respect of his peers.

He turned Champion Racing into true champions. He took a team with moderate success and turned them into the team to beat in the first decade of the new century with the venerable Audi R8. Perhaps the crowning achievement there was the outstanding 2005 season, where the team won 7 American Le Mans races, including Sebring and Petit Le Mans on their way to the championship. Not only did they dominate the American Le Mans series that year, they won Le Mans as well, bringing the Le Mans trophy to American soil for the first time since 1967.

In 2005, as part of that team, legendary driver Tom Kristensen won his record 7th 24 Hours of Le Mans. Also that year, Tom was on the winning team at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Tom recalls Brad as a constant calming influence on the team, who never raised his voice (well, almost never) as this quote from Tom provides some insight into Brad’s persona: “Only Sebring 2005, I remember he raised his voice; I asked if he (Champion Racing) needed a photofinish on the last lap of the 12 hours he screamed: Keep the hammer down!, I recall.”

Not only an outstanding race engineer and strategist, in this modern era of computers and constant live data from the race cars, Brad brings something that cannot be replicated by data points and computers: experience and a genuine feel for how the car and drivers are doing.

This talent cannot be underestimated. Brad is “old school” where it counts. Being able to make decisions on the fly, having the right people in the right jobs, being able to sense what is going on with the car in the hectic few seconds of a pit stop – these are all things that are invaluable to winning races and championships, as has been proven over and over again as Audi continues to win races with the Audi R15, R18 and this year at Le Mans with the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro.

As Audi driver Dindo Capello, who has had much success working with Brad through the years says: “Brad is a combination of an old style car engineer and a modern one. The difference between Brad Kettler and some of the new generation’s car engineers is that he can understand, mechanically, what’s happening with the car. He can work and know the details in both the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro and my Charger from 1969, for which he made a new engine for me with 580 HP! I like him a lot.”

Brad Kettler, the man behind the curtain, has earned the attention and respect of his peers.

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