Gentleman Drivers and the GT racing scene is an area that I am starting to feature on the Motorsport Prospects blog and in the Directory because it is of such vital importance to the motorsport ecosystem. My first piece was with professional race driver, coach and motorsport consultant Johnny Mowlem (A Discussion about the Role of the Gentleman Driver with Johnny Mowlem). This week I will feature the insights of driver Derek DeBoer who juggles a busy life as a business professional, father of 3 girls and husband on top of being a competitive race car driver in the GT World Challenge America (formerly the Pirelli World Challenge) with The Racers Group. Derek is also the subject of Fastlife TV, a YouTube channel started by his wife Brooke that chronicles his life on and off the track. Highly recommended you check it out as well as the first two seasons on Amazon Prime.
In this interview we talk about Derek’s passion for racing, juggling multiple commitments, the never ending search for sponsorship and more.
Motorsport Prospects: Racing is your passion. Why?
Derek DeBoer: I love the challenge and hunt that is part of the sport. You also get to surround yourself with a lot of successful and like-minded people. In addition to that- the team aspect and all that it demands makes it very meaningful when things work out.
MP: How did you get involved in the sport?
DB: It was a childhood dream to become a race car driver. Those guys were my heroes! I probably wouldn’t have pushed to become one if it wasn’t for my wife Brooke. She asked me one night what dream or passion I hadn’t chased yet that she should know about. Without hesitation I told her I wanted to be a race car driver. She soon signed me up for Skip Barber racing school…….
Juggling Multiple Commitments and Managing Time
MP: You work full time. How do you balance your work and racing commitments?
DB: I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by a really great team. It makes it very easy to empower them and they are also supportive of my racing dream.
MP: How do you balance work and racing with your family commitments?
DB: Its crazy sometimes but again circles back to a supportive team. Everyone is on board for everyone’s dreams. It makes it really fun and we all thrive on each others successes and are also there to encourage each other when its feeling rough.
The Search for Sponsorship and the Realities of Budget
MP: A lot of Fastlife TV has to do with sponsorship. Getting it. Maintaining it. Supporting it. How does sponsorship work in your case? What things have you learned in how to pursue sponsorship? How can someone prevent being the victim of sponsorship fraud?
DB: All of this only works with sponsorship and great partners. I learned early on that if something seems to good to be true, it likely is…. But in the same breath, if you work hard and establish great relationships, you are then able to move forward, step in step with mutual goals in mind. You have to be a good listener and establish a potential partners needs. You then need to be able to access resources, put those needs into words and create a plan to get the job done. You have to work harder than anyone else- then the deal “might” be yours.
MP: What is a realistic budget to race in the GT World Challenge America?
DB: It depends on the class and if you are sharing a car (like in Sprint X) or doing a solo sprint race effort. $500-$600k would be a pretty safe range. Thus the need for partnerships… At least in my case. 🙂
MP: How has Fastlife TV affecting your sponsorship search?
DB: I think it adds another arrow to the quiver. Every sponsor has a different need and the type of reach and approach that Fastlife has gives us something unique.
The GT World Challenge America and Eyeing Future Racing Challenges
MP: What do you like about the GT World Challenge America?
DB: World class competition and a very accommodating family feel.
MP: How did you pick the team you are with? What should a driver look for when researching a team?
DB: I got lucky- walked in the right door at the right time… I think as far as what a driver should look for is going to differ for everyone. There just needs to be a chemistry between the driver and all levels of the team and clarity as to what resources the team can offer. Every driver needs something different. I’ve been really lucky to form great relationships at all levels within TRG and they have supported me in countless ways.
MP: Do you see yourself moving up to the IMSA championship?
DB: My hope is to be able to run events in both championships. There is so much that I love about SRO and GT4 America, but I also have a big dream to get back into a GT3 and go chase the big endurance races in IMSA.
Advice for Older Racing Drivers
MP: What advice would you give to aspiring (ahem) older racing drivers? What advantages might they possess over a younger driver?
DB: To just get started somewhere. You need to gain experience no matter what the level… Then its time to get to work, and work harder than anyone else in the paddock. This work is in your driver training, fitness, relationships, etc…. It all has to go together.
MP: Fastlife TV is all about living your dreams. Are you?
DB: For sure! I have to pinch myself all the time! We do still need subscribers though- we’re asking for help to get past 1,000. www.youtube.com/fastlifetv Please head there and hit the subscribe button.
The Motorsport Prospects Directory listing for The Racers Group can be found here.