Life after GTA 2014: Gamer to Pro Driver

Discussion in 'GT Academy' started by Neovre, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. Neovre

    Neovre

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    Location:
    United States
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    Let me just start by saying it's been a very rough ride. A lot of ups and downs since then and that is why I never had the time to type up about my life until now that I have a secure program for 2016 and am actually making a little money purely from racing.
    Here's a picture taken 2 weekends ago at my first race this year.
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    I'll update this thread as often as possible on my life in detail during the past year and a half and hopefully future events as well.
     
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  2. Growling

    Growling

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    665
    Great effort if you're already making money from a racing in such a short time :tup:

    I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say feel free to share how you did it?
     
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  3. Neovre

    Neovre

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    I'll eventually get there. But gonna take my time to write it up chronologically like a story. :cheers:

    There's still a lot going on with life so it's hard to find time to type up all the little things. Bear with me a bit here. You can check out my Facebook page in my sig. in the meantime for a general idea if you're itching to find out how things went.:)
     
  4. DMacs13

    DMacs13

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    No worries we'll be here! Also congrats on getting a drive for the year
     
  5. Louie_Schumii

    Louie_Schumii

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    Haha that feel. My 2015 race camp recap was meant to be done by December last year. Quality over quantity I suppose. Good to see Gran Turismo drivers really embodying the games' spirit when it comes to time-frames :lol:.

    Love what Darren Cox and the rest of GTA Global have achieved with the competition, life-changing for all of us really. Looking forward to read and learn how you went from GTA finalist to getting the drive you currently have.

    PS - GT-R photo-op tax

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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
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  6. Neovre

    Neovre

    Messages:
    726
    Location:
    United States
    I'll probably have to re organize everything at some point, but here's a little background that happened before GT Academy that has also helped me greatly since then.

    I previously acquired a regional competition license from SCCA, thanks to a spec miata team I volunteered for as a pit crew 2 years in a row(I was introduced to the team while volunteering as a track marshal). As a return of favor, they sponsored my driver's school in 2012.
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    At the driver's school I hooked up with another student after I graduated 3rd fastest in class and we did a few club races together, it was partly to help him get up to speed as we call it. We shared the cost and a weekend cost us about 800usd per person which was acceptable doing 2 to 3 weekends a year just to keep my competition license current.
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    I also volunteered to become a track day instructor in 2012 after getting the license as well and that was how I got a lot of free track time. At the same time, some connections were made and I became a professional instructor later in the year.

    So that was kind of the life before GT Academy, note that the biggest thing to gain here isn't the on track experience but the connections and persona I have created that would help me along the way even till today.

    Coming back to the US after the Academy
    , my first thought was to plan a full season program for 2015. The idea came from seeing Sean Johnston not winning GT Academy in 2011,but somehow found a way and did well for himself in Porsche GT3 Challenge the following year. To be recognized as a good driver in GT, that was one of the series to show your strengths. I did all the usual stuff, update Linkedin, hit all the CEO and marketing department contacts I can hit hoping for one that would say "that's an awesome story and I am interested in sponsoring you to go race!" But that never happened. The most you would hear is a polite "I'm sorry but we have allocated our marketing budgets already." That went on for about 2-3 months while I was still in college at that time, on my laptop typing emails in class all the time without any success.

    After the show aired on Spike TV, I received a call from a friend who was planning to field a car in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill
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    A club race at the end of the year in California that has grown in popularity so much that there are professional teams from around the world come and join. This friend was offering me a free race with his team again as a return of favor from 2013 where I again volunteered to lead and build a brand new race car and led the team as a the crew chief to race in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. I was nothing less than thrilled to hear that news.

    Everything was cool then, I continued to hunt for sponsorship for 2015 until a bad news came. The guy had to pull out 2 weeks before the race due to family issues and I was left without a ride. I feel bad for him but at the same time I had to scramble to look for another ride in the race. I felt it was important for me to do that race because it is something I wanted to do after being a pit crew in that race for the past 3 years. The thirst is real.

    I hit up all the contacts I know in the club racing community and one driver, whom I worked as a pit crew for as well as a fellow instructor told me their team still has a potential spot open so I jumped on it. Now here's what I learned from experience, being a good driver(fast and safe) does not get you free rides or sponsors, it only opens the door to start a conversation. This miata team has won its class in the 25 Hour 2 times in 3 years, so they have expectations for their drivers, and being the kid that learned how to drive on a game doesn't really make the cut for the veteran racers. To make matters worse, the year that they didn't win was because of a kid who thought he was a hot shot messed up. It's really important to be humble at all times.

    With my friend's persuasion and me making a trip to LA to convince, the team boss decided to give me a shot at it. It does cost me some money to do the race with them, but it was reasonable for most poeple to afford I believe and I'm in no position to fight it anyway. So it was finally decided that I would do the race!

    I'll let you guys off for now, that's about it for one post I guess. The next post will be about the race itself. Stay tuned!
    Here's a bit of a teaser . This is who I met who was doing the race as well. :bowdown::cheers:

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  7. Neovre

    Neovre

    Messages:
    726
    Location:
    United States
    Hey folks,

    Hope you're all doing well. Sorry I have not been updating this thread as much as I want to but the past weekend was such a huge one I felt the need to let the GTPlanet community know.

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    I got a late call to race in the final weekend of the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup in place of a driver who couldn't make it.
    First time driving a downforce car as in this Ligier JS P3 LMP3 car at a track I have never been to.

    I improved a second per session and finally got up to par with our ace driver in the sister car James Winslow who's multiple F3 champion.
    The first race as you can see we got REALLY LUCKY.

    We started from Pit lane due to mechanical issue during a late setup change due to rain right before the race and not able to get on the grid before pit lane closes. But as we got closer to green flag, the track started to dry and we gambled on slicks. I did the first stint and had to tip toe my first couple of laps, and push like mad afterwards. By the time I handed the car to my co-driver Yoshiharu Mori we were in 3rd place. some guys were on wets and the wets degraded real' quick on the drying track. The second half saw some penalties being given to the leading cars and with 2 laps to go we made the pass for the lead.

    Very unbelievable and amazing weekend. I hope this will lead to more opportunities in the near future. meanwhile, here's the onboard from Qualifying. Enjoy!
     
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