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For the Thrill of the Race

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Got an article in our local PCA magazine Horizons here it is:

For the Thrill of the Race:
How Passion Can Fuel the Conviction to Transform a Life, Physically and Mentally

As a 41-year-old, father of two, weighing 320 lbs with zero experience driving race cars, I was a rather unlikely race car driver. Yet now, I’m well on my way after reaching the podium 3 times in my first 5 PCA Club races. Over the last year, I’ve worked hard to defy the odds, the norms, and all things practical and expected.

A few years ago, in my late 30s, after returning to Texas from a 12-year stint in New York City, I decided to restore a 1974 Porsche 911 with my father, a long-time fan of all things air-cooled. At the time, I thought it would be a great bonding experience that my then 4-year old son and I could share with my father.

Seeing that Porsches piqued my interest, my family gave me a gift card for an exotic driving experience with Longhorn Racing Academy (LRA) at Harris Hill Raceway. One spin around the track and I was instantly hooked, so much so that I told the owner Varun Idnani “I am going to buy your car.” I fell in love with the beautiful peridot metallic green Cayman R that I drove during the experience. Varun thought I was joking, but after two return visits to LRA driving that gorgeous green Cayman R, I ended up doing just that. There was an instant connection with the car, and I knew that it was destined to be my companion while I developed my driving skills. Looking back, it was amazing to have the experience of driving both an air-cooled 911, and a water-cooled Cayman, both so different, yet so uniquely Porsche.

I had tapped into a passion like never before, finding joy, peace and exhilaration all at the same time. When you’re in the car at speed, in a corner, surrounded by other cars, you’re completely in the moment—you have no choice but to be present and self-aware. Learning to drive competitively soon became my conviction, and I found my life began to orbit around it. I started thinking, ‘What can I do while out of the car so that I can have the most enjoyment while I’m in the car?’ I realized that I needed to take control of my health if I wanted to be competitive.

With the newfound call of racing cars competitively, I proceeded to lose nearly 100 pounds over 6 months. At the same time, I completed 45 days of on-track driving in less than 12 months in that beautiful green Cayman R. This included 5 PCA High Performance Driver’s Education (HPDE) weekend events, and many one-on-one coaching sessions with the patient and experienced Courtney Rivers, an instructor with the Longhorn Racing Academy. The experience of working with instructors and progressing through the different run groups from Green to White set me up for success in club racing. The PCA HPDE program helped me establish all the fundamentals, which allowed me to have fun, be safe, and pursue my passion.

After completing that training, I attended the Porsche Sport Driving School in Birmingham, AL, led by famed racing driver Hurley Haywood. I earned both a Sports Car Club of America license and ultimately my PCA competition license.

From there, I knew I needed a car, so I went to visit Bilt Racing Services (BRS) in Illinois. They have set the standard for winning cars in the Porsche Club Racing GTB1 modified category, my class of choice. Once I saw their work, I knew I had to have one of their cars to compete – so I traded the 911 that we lovingly restored with my father, and the Cayman R that I purchased from Longhorn Racing Academy for a BRS race car.

With the immense support of local independent Porsche workshop TPWS Inc., I entered my first PCA racing event, the Carrera of the Americas, at Circuit of the Americas. Before the race even began, we achieved the fastest qualifying time in the GTB1 class for my first sprint race. Wheel-to-wheel contact with another car in the first sprint race prevented me from finishing and forced me to begin the second sprint race in the rain, on slicks, at the back of the grid. But laser focus and sheer determination kicked in, and I passed 16 cars in 13 laps. By the end of the weekend, we had placed second in class in my second sprint, and third in class in the endurance race. This put us on the podium for two of three races, while earning the Hard Charger and the Rookie of the Race awards.

For our second race weekend, also with support from TPWS, I decided to return to the gorgeous Barber Motorsports Park, this time with co-driver Colten Miller, a renowned late model dirt track racer with his sights set to “convert from dirt.” Colten and I became fast friends while attending the Porsche Sport Driving School under the instruction of Sherman Engler and Cass Whitehead. I continued my success by taking my first overall victory in the first sprint race of the weekend. And with Colten at the wheel, we proved the speed of our Bilt Racing Services and TWPS-prepared GTB1 by setting the lap record for the class at Barber Motorsports Park. Our next race will ideally include another trip to the podium and another track record at Road America in September.

Eventually I plan to build out a new small business motorsports technology company, ryracing, LLC, while continuing to establish lifelong habits that will improve my fitness and endurance. I am working toward a professional racing series with the ultimate goal of driving with my family, friends and partners at my side in the 12 hours of Sebring. I am committed to the transformation and will endure the sacrifice to follow my passion.