Driver Spotlight: Stevan McAleer
Driver, No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 (CTSC)
You’ve come from the back to the front several times this year. What does that do for your confidence?
“Obviously the initial reason of why we’re in the back is a bit disappointing. Whether it was a mechanical or the thing at Watkins Glen with the front chip on the windscreen, that was a big hit for us. It does provide a ton of confidence, not so much as a driver, but for the whole team to show how good our cars are and how good our cars can drive through the field like that. I was back home in the go-karting days and that was part of the racing, you always started somewhere near the back, where you qualified. I just see a gap, the gap looks good and I put the car in the gap and it’s on to the next one. It’s very easy to be over-aggressive and come from the back and drive into people. I just feel that I see the opening but I’m also looking down the track so when it comes to the next one, I’ve already planned the attack. It’s a ton of confidence for the whole team and it gives the team pretty serious credit.”
What else do you do to prepare outside of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge schedule?
“I instruct outside of here. I work at Monticello Motor Club and I coach 90 percent of my days. You’re still involved in the sport and you’re sitting right seat but you’re basically helping a newcomer become a better driver. While I’m not driving, I’m still thinking about what the car is doing and how to make the car better for the driver so I think that helps me. I would obviously love to drive a race car more, as everyone would, and some of these weekend’s are very hard because we have two drivers so if we have any type of mechanical problem, or a red flag on track that limits your track time. I think in Kansas I did a lap and a half.”
You’ve run in to some bad luck, how have your goals shifted for the last few races?
“We’re still in a strong points position overall, I think we’re P6 in the points. We’re certainly further out than we wanted to be. Watkins Glen was a big impact on our season, when we had the points taken away for second-place. There are four races left and we’re optimistic about pulling this one back in. Anything can happen. We had our good tracks at the start of the season and I feel we took advantage of them – Mazda Raceway, Sebring, Lime Rock. Then we come to places like Road America where we’re struggling to keep pace. If we can come away with a top 10 we won’t close in on points but we should still stay within range.”
What are some of the challenges of VIR?
“VIR for me, I ran at Skip Barber regional in ’06 and national in ’07, ’08 and ’09, but I’ve never run on the new surface. You know the tree fell over so I guess it’s just called, ‘corner’, now. They widened the track and to my understanding the track is way grippier. I love the esses, I’ve driven some cars through there that are a ton of speed. I think the MX-5 will be competitive there. I think it will be similar to Road Atlanta where we will have the pace but it may be hard to race with straight-line speed. VIR is all about commitment through the esses and carrying your momentum through the corner. It’s a fun place, it’s a really fun place when it rains and to be honest with you, with the luck we’ve had so far, I would love it if it just poured rain the whole time.”
What are your hobbies outside of racing?
“A lot of instructing, a lot of coaching at Monticello. I have my own go-karting team. I have 14 drivers that run under my race team and they are racing this weekend (Road America weekend) and I’m not there. I’m a lively person so I’m out as much as I can be with friends. I do a lot of running. Racing is basically one hundred percent passion for me. It’s funny, if I’m out at dinner sometime, or away from the track, I’m talking about racing so it’s good when you have a buddy that also likes talking about racing. The worst thing you can do is take your girl on a date and talk about racing, it’s the last date you would go on.”