IMSA Spotlight: Danny Burkett
Driver: No. 33 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport (GS)
Now that you have one race under your belt with CJ Wilson Racing, how is the chemistry with the team?
“In one word, awesome. We are all a bunch of fun loving people who don’t take ourselves too seriously, but also know how to buckle down when its time to get to work.
“Not only having the first race with the team, but going to Los Angeles and hooning cars around at The Thermal Club and Willow Springs was mega fun. It was a chance to spend a lot of time road tripping around the LA area, and having some conversation that was more personal, and really getting to know these guys.
“For me I’m the newest and the youngest ‘kid on the block’ so to speak on the team, but it’s fun! A lot of the time I get the brunt of the young kid jokes, but it’s all in good fun, and I like to surprise everyone with my own witty remarks back.
“It feels like a good home for me, and I really hope this can turn into a partnership that lasts for many years.”
The team had a new car and new driver (you) at Daytona but you had a great outing. Talk a little about your week in Daytona and how the race went.
“It felt like a whirlwind. There was so much hype coming into the race about the new GT4 and how it would compare to the other cars in class. That’s a new aspect of racing for me as I’ve only raced in one-make series before, whether it be in Mazda Road to Indy or in Prototype Challenge. Learning where our car had it’s strengths and weaknesses was key to my success in the opening stint for sure.
“I was quite nervous to start the race, if I’m honest. But as soon as the green flag dropped, racer mode kicked in and all the worries went away. I talked with Marc [Miller, co-driver] before the race, and we expected the Mustangs to be faster at the beginning because of their horsepower, and they were.
“As the stint went on I managed my Continental tires well and had lots of performance left with about 15 minutes left before our driver change. Making the move around the outside of the Rum Bum car in Turn 5 was a bit sketchy, but it got the job done!
“I felt like for my first race I made a bold statement that I’m here to race hard, and lead laps. Overall I was very pleased with the global debut of the GT4 Clubsport and the debut of our Darth Cayman.”
This is you foray into the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. How tough is the competition this year?
“While the field is smaller than in years past, its loaded with talent. Scott Maxwell and Hugh Plumb have massive amounts of experience in this series and they definitely did not make it easy for me to get around them at Daytona.
“In addition to that I feel like I compare myself most to Paul Holton in the C360R Mustang. We’re both rookies in GS, albeit in very different cars, but we are around the same age and have the same ambitions in racing.
“Paul is a tough competitor from what I saw in Daytona and he’s hungry to lead laps just as I am. It’ll be a fight with him all season as we’re both the starting drivers, and I really think we can put on a good show!”
What have you been doing to prepare for Sebring in a couple weeks?
“Usually what I’ll do to prepare for a race is run laps on a sim I have at home or watch video as a refresher for braking points and such. Although I raced with Cape Motorsports in Pro Mazda last year, and Sebring is right in their backyard. We tested there quite a lot.
“I know the track very well, so I haven’t been watching too much video, but I have been reading my over track notes. I wrote down what changes helped in certain areas of the track, but where it affected the setup in other areas. With Sebring being such a long and diverse track its almost impossible to have the car work exactly how you want it to in all the corners.
“Reading up on what areas I struggled in last year, and how I fixed them gives me places to start if I find myself in a similar situation with the new Clubsport GT4.”
When you aren’t in a race car, what do like to do in your free time?
“Well, I spend a lot of the time working to keep myself in the car! My sponsor One Capital and I work very closely on B2B deals within the racing community to help bring in funding. We are always looking for more opportunities to get involved with the racing community, so I’ll spend my time doing research and seeing what kind of connections there are to be made.
“In addition to that, I’m trying to raise the budget for a part time oval schedule in an IndyLights car this year or next year. I’m working with a few MRTI teams in conjunction with One Capital to make that happen. My ideal situation 3-4 years down the road is to be a Townsend Bell type racer, where I’m full-time sports cars, with an Indy 500 drive every year.
“In addition to the car racing business, I’m a board member of my local Manitoba Karting Association. I’m constantly thinking of ways to grow the grassroots karting scene here and I find that very rewarding.
“I’m not only helping to build and better the club, but I also coach three young up and coming karters. Seeing their progress as drivers on the track is very cool, and a lot of time its a nice change of pace from the ultra competitive pro racing scene.
“The business side of racing takes a lot of my time, but I do enjoy stand up comedy quite a lot when I get a chance to indulge. A few of my favourites would have to be Jim Jefferies, John Mulaney, and Jim Gaffigan.
“Overall I’m just another dude who loves racing, and I want to be around it all the time!”