One of the pleasant nuances of sports car racing is the fact that several drivers make their living doing something other than driving race cars. It’s not uncommon to find doctors, lawyers or executives battling it out on the racetrack.
One driver with a particularly interesting ‘day job’ is Frank Raso, who was testing the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car this week at Sebring.
“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” Raso said. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again.
“I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”
The 54-year-old competed last year in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Gold Cup class, and was gearing up this week for another Gold Cup run in 2018.
His best results last year were fourth-place outings on four different occasions.
“I didn’t race the full season last year because of work constraints,” Raso said. “It’s the same thing with this year, I won’t be able to do the whole season because of the work constraints and getting time off.
“I use my vacation weeks to actually go race or trade trips around and things like that.”
He’s got a solid team behind him and coaching from top drivers such as past IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge champions Eric Foss and Ryan Eversley.
Raso also is able to draw from his own experiences as a pilot, which offers some similarities to driving race cars.
“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order,” Raso said.
“It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.
“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no antilock brakes, no traction control and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert.
“It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”