A return to Sebring was more than just another race for me. I look back at the last three years and realized that even though I have yet to have a great result here, it is where my racing career paused, was energized and ultimately restarted. I owe a lot to this entire journey.
In 2014, racing in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in the No. 3 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5, I was involved in the worst accident of my life, leaving the track in an ambulance and spending several months rehabbing to get back behind the wheel.
In 2015, our CJ Wilson Racing team was back at Sebring, but the No. 3 car sat out due to lack of funding.
I came back to the track regardless, walking around in street clothes with that itch that every racer gets when they are watching and not doing.
In retrospect, though, it gave me an opportunity to join the IMSA Radio & Radio Le Mans team to do color commentary for the race and qualifying.
That experience of being there, being heard and having the chance to walk the paddock was more of a blessing than a curse.
It indirectly led to the launch of CJ Wilson Racing’s first GS class entry, the No. 33 Porsche 911 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which also led to a drive the same weekend in the No. 93 Mosing Motorscars Viper GT3-R, which led to an opportunity to compete at Le Mans in the No. 53 Viper Exchange GTS-R for Riley Motorsports.
In a way, missing this race last year both energized and helped relaunch my career.
Coming back from setbacks is absolutely key in this business. It is a constant rollercoaster and sometimes you find success just by not getting off the ride when others would.
In 2016 I came back to Sebring. Not to race a No. 3 car or sit in a radio broadcast booth, but to compete in two cars, both No. 33 with the No. 33 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport entered in GS by CJ Wilson Racing and the No. 33 Gas Monkey Garage Viper in the GTD class.
It just blows my mind that only a year ago that I watched the No. 3 MX-5 sit idle and only a year later I had competed in my first GTD race, at Le Mans and made the move to GS in the Continental Tire Challenge.
What’s cooler was that I was now at Sebring again in both the Continental Tire Challenge and WeatherTech Championship in cars that had an abundance of “3’s” associated with them.
And while neither race went as we had hoped, I left here knowing both teams learned things that will only make us all stronger in races to come.
In GS, our One Capital/MotorOilMatters Porsche finished in 7th after being hit by a competitor, but we led the race and set the fastest race lap in the process.
In GTD, the Gas Monkey Garage Viper was a contender for the win from the green, but a mechanical issue early put us back as much as 5 laps down.
But you know what? No one on the team gave up and we made up 3 laps – there is that number 3 again – and we could have made up more if not for the nearly 3-hour red flag due to lightning.
I know that these are just more dips in the rollercoaster ride and I’m certain that there are many more great things ahead for me. At least “THREE” anyway.