When CJ Wilson hung-up his cleats from professional baseball earlier this year, he made no secret that he was going to spend his “retirement” behind the wheel of a race car.
The owner of CJ Wilson Racing – a program running a pair of Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class – has turned his full athletic focus to driving.
Wilson announced last month he had purchased a 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and would enter it under his team’s banner in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama this year.
The former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher took his first steps towards that goal recently during a two-day test at Texas World Speedway in College Station, Tex.
Working closely with driving instructor and team driver Marc Miller, Wilson began lapping the road course in one of the team’s Cayman GT4 Clubsports graduating up to the “Cup car” over the course of the test.
“It’s great to take another step towards my goals,” Wilson said. “We had a chance to burn through two sets of tires today and I made a lot of progress.
“Having Marc as my coach was incredibly helpful because we have a lot of faith in each other and communicate using the same terms. Having sat in driver debriefings for the past six years with the race team, I was able to take all the input logically and make progress each session.
“The only odd thing about the test is that nobody else was here, which was the first time I have ever been on a track completely alone, so when we did a race simulation I had to use my imagination.
“TWS is a really fast and bumpy track. Looking forward to getting back in the car in ten days and pick up where I left off.”
The test proved successful as Wilson was able to acclimate himself to the one-make series’ spec Yokohama racing tire and narrow the gap to the target lap time set by Miller.
Additionally, the team ran a full race distance to help give Wilson a concept of the mental and physical demands required for the 45-minute sprint races that comprise the two-race weekends of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge events.
“CJ did great job, but I expected as much,” Miller said. “He is logical and methodical which makes him easy to help and that translated into a very quick progression along the learning curve.
“Like any professional athlete though he is never truly satisfied because he wants to be perfect. He took quickly to the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
“It is confidence inspiring and such a capable platform so that suited him well in getting up to speed.
“Overall, it was a successful first outing and I look forward to working with CJ this season. I expect he will have a solid debut at Sebring. He better or I’m likely fired.”
The GT3 Cup Challenge season kicks off at Sebring next month.