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The Porsche Badge

The Porsche Badge
In pursuit of a Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup spot

Have you ever pursued something so difficult it felt almost impossible?

I have…

Since the age of 10, my wish has been to become a racing driver. However, as a Canadian, most of us are virtually born with skates on our feet, a stick in our hand and learn to play ice hockey. That was true for me until I discovered the passion I had for speed, for competition and for racing. I remember lying in bed at age 10 and praying my family could buy me a go-kart.

Some time passed, but then that prayer came to reality and we bought a used four-stroke go-kart from someone local. Imagine the joy in my face; I had a perma-grin from ear to ear for weeks! My dad (a brick layer at the time) would take me after work to the school parking lot where I would practice driving around curbs and basketball nets. After a few weeks of that, I entered my first race at the Simcoe Kart Club where I finished in second.  

Later that summer, my father and uncle took me and a friend to the American Le Mans Series race at Mosport International Raceway. I was in complete awe watching the exotic sports cars race through turn two and, from that day on, I was determined to make my way to the ALMS.

The Porsche Badge
In 2010, with my whole family there to watch, I made my ALMS debut at the Mobil 1 12-Hours of Sebring. It was an emotional weekend to say the least – I was now racing against some of the same drivers I watched as a kid. Since then, I have won races and pole positions and have been extremely blessed to build a career in the ALMS over the last three seasons.

So, what’s next? Race drivers compete to win. We thrive off competition. But, to be in the best equipment and race against the best drivers, you need to be in a factory supported race seat. With this usually comes a little more job security as well. Manufacturers compete to learn, to develop technology, to sell cars and to win. However, while this job comes with more perks, it also comes with more pressure.

This past season, during the ALMS event at Virginia International Raceway, I was called into a meeting at the Porsche Motorsport trailer. To my surprise, I was presented with one of four invitations to the first-ever North America Porsche Academy. Three other North American standouts – all under the age of 25 – were also invited to participate in this test.

The evaluation took place at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. It was an extremely busy two days. Some key Porsche people were there from Germany to observe the test as well as one of the company's factory drivers.

The Porsche Badge The Porsche Badge

Day one focused on us as racing drivers outside of the race car. We first went through a neurological exam to understand our personality type and how we handle ourselves in certain situations and with others. Next, was a Porsche written exam and, finally, media testing.

Day two saw us get behind the wheel of the new Porsche 911s on a wet skid pad to demonstrate our car control before upgrading to the Porsche GT3 Cup car and taking to the track. We began with a warm-up before a mock qualifying run on new tires and then a mock race run on used tires. There were even changes made to the car between the qualifying and race sessions in which we drivers had to identify.

This was the first manufacturer test I’ve been a part of. It was run very punctual and very intense. I find the German’s to be very smart. Many times, they are seen quietly observing without showing any emotion, so it makes for a unique kind of pressure.

Two weeks passed and, at the ALMS finale – the Petit Le Mans – in Georgia, I was called into the Porsche motorsport trailer. This time I was presented with an invitation to a second test, which required me to cross the Atlantic and make my way to Italy.

I was scheduled to depart on October 29th, the Monday that Hurricane Sandy was due to make landfall in New York. Thus, my flight to Rome that connected in New York’s JFK airport was canceled. I was re-booked on a flight to Chicago, then Madrid, then onto Rome. Three planes and 35 hours later I finally made it to the hotel around 7:30 p.m., literally minutes before I was due to meet in the hotel restaurant for a Porsche Motorsport team dinner.

This test was a huge opportunity for me; Porsche Motorsport exclusively invited nine drivers from around the world to participate for a chance at a 200,000-Euro scholarship toward a seat in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. The others drivers hailed from France, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, Italy and more, but I was the only one from North America. All of the other drivers have impressive racing resumes with experience as high as Formula 1 testing, so it was a real honour just to have been selected to participate.

Porsche required each driver to speak English. Needless to say, I fit right in. Though, I was quite impressed to see each of the other drivers speak and understand English so well even though it’s not their first language.

This test has literally been one of the most difficult I’ve ever done. Not only the pressure to preform on track, but also how you handle this kind of test is tough on one mentally. An opportunity like this only comes by once, so you don’t want to leave anything on the table; you really have to give it everything you've got. It's all or nothing – and crucial to not make a single mistake.

The Porsche Badge
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the most ideal conditions. It poured rain all day, eventually getting so bad we were aquaplaning in a straight line. Each of us only got in about 17 laps before one of the drivers made contact with the wall. It was about 2:00 p.m. at this time and the rain was only getting worse, so Porsche made the decision to end the test.

Upon conclusion of the evaluation, one of the Porsche motorsports principles made a few key comments: “Each of you have proven yourself and that is why you are here today. You have the Porsche badge, but now we want to see you move to Germany, learn our language, learn our culture and prove your ability in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Of the nine of you, one is going to get a 200,000-Euro scholarship toward a seat in the Supercup. As for the other eight, we will help you in communication and negotiation with teams, but you will need to find the complete budget.”

Just to hear these words from Porsche is very encouraging. For those who don’t know, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is the most competitive one-make championship in the world and the official support series to Formula 1. Each of the current Porsche factory drivers have come from this series. The budget to compete is about 350,000 Euros. A tough cookie to swallow! However, even for the smallest chance of earning a factory driving position after a successful season in the supercup, it’s an opportunity that just can’t be passed up. I say often “If you work hard enough and want it bad enough, dreams do come true.”

In the midst of all this it’s sometimes easy to get so caught up in the present and forget your roots, forget where it all began and how far things have come. I owe a lot of thanks to many people. To think that 12 years ago my biggest stress was learning to skate backwards or perfect my slap shot, now it’s trying to pay the bills driving race cars, presenting proposals to corporate sponsor partners and trying to find that last tenth of a second to win the pole position in qualifying.

While we’re all still waiting for the test results, which is never easy. I'm confident I didn't leave anything on the table and I'm hopeful; but, it’s time to put my business hat on and get to work on planning out next season. Obviously, the priority is to move to Germany and race the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, so I’m working hard to make that happen. But there is also a good chance you’ll see me back in the ALMS in a prototype. Time will tell – in a perfect world I will earn my frequent flyer miles and do both.

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