Driver Spotlight: Dion von Moltke
Driver, No. 35 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS (GTD)
How did you get your start in racing?
“My Dad bribed me. When I was growing up we moved around a lot. I was born in Houston and at two weeks old we moved to Dallas, Dallas to Sydney, Sydney to LA, LA to Miami. And before Facebook whenever you moved schools you lost all your old friends and had to make new ones. We just moved to Miami and I was going to a school that was mostly laptop-based and I’m really bad at technology. I wasn’t doing very well and my Dad wanted me to switch schools again and I was going into high school so I didn’t really want to do it so he says, ‘I’m going to bribe you right now. I’m going to buy you either the best gaming computer in the world or a go-kart.’ I’m a 13-year so I said let’s get the go-kart! We didn’t know what we were getting into. I thought every once in a while we’d go go-karting and have some fun. All of a sudden two months later I was racing then I was state champion, national champion, then I was doing world championships, and I thought, it would be cool to make a career out of it so I moved up the ladder. I’m lucky my Dad bribed me.”
Has the merger lived up to your expectations as a driver?
“Going into the year I was more optimistic than most but definitely had reservations. There were a lot of questions and a lot of unknowns. I think if we look at everything as a whole, (IMSA) has done some things really well and they’ve had the right mindset. They’ve had the mindset, we know we’re not perfect, we’re trying to get better and I’m really happy to see the direction that it’s being taken. I feel that we could have definitely done better over the first two races. Obviously some of the officiating mistakes, it is what it is, it happens in motorsports. We know what happened, we made the changes, and are pushing it in the right direction. To me the main thing is that the fans have the same access to see better racing and they’re a part of the sport.”
How tough is the competition in GTD this year?
“We feel like we drove almost a perfect race at Sebring and we came in fifth, just seven seconds back from the leader after 12 hours of pretty intense racing. Same thing at Daytona. If a 24-hour race is now a sprint race and being decided by seconds, a two hour race is going to be decided by nothing. You have to get the absolute best out of not just the drivers, but the engineers, strategist, crew guys, you have to drive a perfect race with no mistakes and you still might finish fourth. It’s that strong of a series. As a driver it inspires you to work harder, in the gym, in the car. There used to be 8-9 cars that could win a race, now there’s 18 that have a legit shot at a win. It’s great for racing.”
How different is it running a street course like Detroit versus a natural road course like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca?
“It’s extremely different. It’s actually, from my experience, the bumpiest track we go to. Everyone talks about Sebring being bumpy, and it is, but Detroit has some sections that are extremely bumpy. When you go into a natural road course you hear a lot about rubber being laid down on the track. When you go to a natural road course you build rubber on the track throughout the weekend but there’s usually always some kind of rubber on the racing line to start. You go to a street course, and there’s nothing. It’s slick everywhere. It’s like driving on slicks in the wet, you just have no grip to start off with and the first hour or two on track. You have to be good at predicting which way the track is going to go. It’s tough on the engineers to pour through the data and try to make predictions on where the track will go. And from the drivers perspective you can’t make any mistakes. A mistake on a street course could cost you big, it might even be the end of your race. It’s hard to overtake but at Detroit they’ve really done a good job making some zones where you can pass. Detroit is a really good street course, it’s got some overtaking zones, it’s got slow corners, it’s got bumpy corners, and it’s got some mega-fast, ballsy corners.”
If you could have any car and go on a road trip anywhere, what would you choose?
“This is easy. It would be a 1965 VW Bus, you know the ones where the windows flick up a little bit? And we would go to, what we call back home in South Africa, the ‘Garden Route’ which goes from Port Elizabeth and it’s about 1,000 km to Cape Town. It’s the most beautiful drive you’ll ever see. It goes through Bloukrans, which has the world’s highest bungee jump, which I would do. You would stop at Knysna and they’ve got outdoorsy, mountain areas where I would go mountain biking, swimming and surfing. I would stop in Jeffery’s Bay and go surfing, you just have to avoid some of the sharks there. I’d stop in Mossel Bay to do some shark cage diving and then drive to Cape Town which for me, is the most beautiful city in the world. In that car, it just fits. Although I would upgrade the engine and the brakes, I want a big engine.”