As the new driver representing EDO Performance, I wanted to make my first blog entry an introduction of myself, where I’ve been, how I’ve come to do what I do, and where I plan to go from here. I get lots of questions on a regular basis on how to get started in racing and for those that were curious, here’s my story:
My intoxication with motorsports started with my first job out of college. I was hired by a company called Off Track Management to run a racing simulator promotion for Marlboro Team Penske and C.A.R.T. following the circuit from city to city at local bars. This led to more responsibilities including trackside support for the hospitality crew in the paddock area at all U.S. races. After two years of working as a bar night promotions manager and trackside suport staff, Philip Morris Inc. decided to broaden their marketing efforts by creating the “Marlboro Racing School”. This national sweepstakes took hundreds of people per year through a 5 star 3 day racing school at various professional race venues which consisted of driving Formula IROC cars on the oval tracks, Formula Van Diemens on the road courses, and Ford Mustangs on the autocross. I was asked to work at the racing schools as a full time staff member while simulataneously flying back and forth between C.A.R.T. series events. It was at these racing schools that my passion for racing began. I surrounded myself with the driving instructors at work where I was given the opportunity to go through the schools as a student with professional instruction. I was befriended by the instructors and complimented on my natural driving abilities and was told that with some formal instruction could become a very competent driver. Many evenings were spent talking about the driving lines, techniques, theories, and quite often spent visiting local karting facilities around the country battling it out for bragging rights at the track. I quickly learned and began to beat some of our instructors at their own game.
After Leaving my job with the racing team, I was given the opportunity of a career in real estate. Although I had left the racing team behind me, I was unable to shake the racing “bug”. In late 2004, I purchased a 2005 Subaru WRX/STi. My intentions were to compete in SCCA autocross as my friends from the racing team said it would be a great way to gain experience and skill. After several events, I found it just wasn’t enough for me and I was introduced to track days or HPDE’s. For just a little more money, I was able to drive my car faster, harder, and longer. I quickly fell in love with the sport and found myself attending track days at least once per month. Just as my skill on the track became apparent that I was usually one of the faster guys in the sessions, Time Attacks started to show up here in the U.S. I found that the same track day companies I ran with were now creating competitions and giving trophies for fast times of the day. I found that as I kept racing in these Time Attacks, I was consistently finishing near the top of my class.
As the sport began gaining attention, the media became more involved. As the media became more involved, sponsorships and tuning shops showed their presence. At this point, in order for me to stay competitive, I really needed to build my car to keep up with the new found “big boys”. Financing came from myself and countless hours were spent with friends building the car. At the track, you’d usually find me with my toolbox, a jack, and a lot of hope that something didn’t go wrong because I had to drive the car home that night and to work the next day. My driving has since improved by leaps and bounds, the car looks a lot different, but my drive and heart are still the same. The “Time Attacks” are completely different now, so it’s a lot of work to stay competitive and I do whatever it takes to succeed.
Currently, I’ve left my job as a real estate agent to pursue the opportunity to help build the business of one of my sponsors. It’s amazing what happens when you pursue your dreams. It can really change your life! I’ve always told myself, the minute you start disliking what you do…you need to do something about it. My Start of driving as a hobby has now turned into a career in motorsports, a few magazine spots, a couple of tv spots, and now the faith and support from my current sponsors.
I have since teamed up with EDO Performance as my primary sponsor. With a few events already under our belts as a team, we are expecting great success for the 2009 season. Keep your eyes peeled as you’ll be seeing quite a bit of us!
As the cartoon character “Cartman” from the animated tv series Southpark says, “Live your dreams…I am living proof!” I really am living a dream…and I sure hope I don’t wake up anytime soon because I’m enjoying every minute of it!!!!
Scott VanderHeide — EDO Performance/Robispec STi