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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Drew Staveley

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring Pirelli GT4 America driver Drew Staveley…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO America

Drew Staveley is the reigning Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Am champion and, after an offseason promotion to the Pro class, kicked off his 2020 season in style with a win and two podiums in the season opener at Circuit of The Americas in March.

This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Staveley fills us in on his life under quarantine, what he and the Ian Lacy Racing team have done to prepare for the season, how he found out the St. Petersburg race was canceled while on track, and more.

What have you been doing to fill the downtime since we were last on track?

“Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot I can be doing. I have my son who I’ve been watching every day. Very luckily my wife is still able to go to work.

“She’s a veterinarian and they’re reasonably busy, so my job is just to be a stay at home dad, and it’s way more work than I ever thought!

“He usually goes to daycare, and I can assure you that we don’t pay them nearly enough. Those people are heroes! It has certainly given me a much bigger appreciation for the job that they do.

“But it has been really nice to spend time with him and bond with him on a level that I really wouldn’t have at this stage without the stoppage.”

What has surprised you the most?

“The relentlessness of it! There’s no breaks except nap time, and even then it’s no gaurantee. I really thought I’d be able to get more projects done around the house and honestly I haven’t done 10 percent of what I thought I would do.”

How would you assess the start to the season at COTA?

“It went very well. We put a lot of work into the winter just refining everything. We got the Mustangs at the beginning of last year and I didn’t realize how we never really got to fine tune anything.

“We went right into racing and all of a sudden it was winter time, and we had a chance to take a step back and refine our program. Going to COTA, I knew that we would be better off than we were last year.

“Last year we had a top six car, and I didn’t know how much better the others cars had got, but the first practice session we were right there at the top of the charts. There are some heavy hitters so I was pleased.

“It’s good to show that we didn’t over think anything and that we focussed on the right things. We qualified on the pole for the Sprint race, and that was something I hadn’t done before. It was very, very exciting.”

How do you view your promotion from the Am to the Pro class for this season?

“It’s a good question. I’ve always seen myself to be as good as anyone else. I think you have to, right? I haven’t always shown that for whatever reason, and it’s kind of a blessing to be an Am.

“There’s a lot of doors that can open with that. I didn’t get to really take advantage of that in some of the other classes where having a competitive Am is really valuable, but I kept that hope up.

“When I got bumped up I wasn’t surprised, just a little bit disappointed because I was hoping to get another year! Just having competed with all the big names in our GT4 class over the years I feel like I can be at their level.

“I don’t really think about Pro or not Pro, I just focus on doing my best and I know that if I do that we’re as good as anybody.”

How strange was it to be on the track for practice at St. Pete as the event was canceled?

“It was challenging. There had been talks of the weekend being canceled as the trucks were loading in. Then we get the word that everything is on.

“The next day we were out on track practicing and did a couple laps and the car wasn’t great. I missed St. Pete last year because that’s when my son was born, and I could’ve sworn they had narrowed the place by 10 feet everywhere!

“I was going around thinking: this place is tight! We did a few laps, came in, made a change, went back out and on my fourth or fifth lap we went purple in the third sector.

“On the lap that got red flagged we were on a flier, it would’ve been P2 at that point, but then we had to come in and we didn’t know why the red flag was out. My engineer was asking if I had seen someone crash!

“We stopped, started making some changes, getting ready to go real fast now, and then they came on the radio saying all cars needed to go back to the trucks.

“At that point it still didn’t register so it was pretty weird. We started doing our debrief and that’s when we got the text message that the weekend was canceled.

“I couldn’t believe it because I was so focused and so ready to get it done. So I got on the first flight home and I’ve been here ever since!”

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