The kind folks at Flussig Magazine invited me to do a series on guest columns about the life of an American living in Europe trying to make a living as a race car driver. But for me, personally, it is more than that. My wise father (funny to note he gets a little bit wiser with each passing year, or maybe it’s that I listen a bit more closely…sometimes it’s hard to tell) said to me that if I am really, really lucky I can make a living driving a race car. He is a very successful business man so he probably has the ‘making a living’ part down pretty good. But he also told me that many racers have tried and failed to own and manage a team while driving. I must have missed that last part (see comment above about listening closely), because I have been busting my arse (what the Brits call ass) over here in the UK, trying to make the fledgling racing outfit I co-own, Team Technik, a winning force to be reckoned with in the GT3 racing world.
Of course I have help. A lot of it. Turns out I know a lot about driving a car at the limit on the track, but I don’t know squat about accounting, race team logistics, personnel issues (I think its referred to as HR) and a whole shit load of other stuff. My partner in crime is a guy named Bala Masukar, a certified mechanical and race engineering genius. I cannot believe how lucky I am to work with Bala. His parents immigrated from Mumbai and made every sacrifice to send him to the best schools and colleges. When they found out he followed his passion and set his sights on working in the racing industry they freaked. But he promised them he would only work for the biggest, best funded teams. Yeah, that pretty much describes us. Eight people strong (including me and a paying co-driver) working out of a decades old garage. So he is our racing brains. On the business side, our secret weapon is Stella Beru, a gal so talented and imbedded (a tiny bit of a pun here…sorry Stella) in the goings on in the racing world, we usually know rumors before they ever exit the garages of the team that started them. Don’t worry, I did not offend her in any way. See she constantly busts my balls and I return the favor whenever I can, which (if you ever hear us talk to each other) is basically all the time.
We have a small crew – Jimmy Oswalt, Reg Parnell, Zaca Rios and Tom Tambay, they are some of the best in the racing industry. Each one of them could easily be with a bigger team, but Bala, Stella and I forgo some of our salary to keep these guys. And boy are they loyal. I always tell them that if a team wins by how hard their pit and garage crew works, we would win every race. Some race teams can put six or seven guys over the wall during pit stops. We put four (which is the minimum amount allowed by the WRL racing rules) and they get the car out of the pits faster than anyone else.
Yeah as you might suspect, we are the quintessential small and plucky team. But the other, bigger teams know who we are. We may not have the dollars, or huge sponsor package (although they are very good…props to all our sponsors!), but we manage to more than hold our own. Most race weekends we are in the running to score points. We have not won a race outright yet, but we all think it is only a matter of time.
So what’s a red blooded, Porsche GT3 driving, professional racer doing writing for a front engine, water pumping enthusiast rag? Easy. I have a really soft spot for the 968 and the 968 CS and the ultra rare 968 Turbo. As a matter of fact I used to own a 968 while in college. But that is another story.
Gotta run. Something to do with the fact that Zaca needs to talk to me about gear ratios for our next practice session at Rockingham.