KEEPING AUSTIN GEARED WITH CJ WILSON RACING
Very few of the competitors at Lone Star Le Mans know COTA quite as well as CJ Wilson Racing. It probably helps that they’re based right here in Austin. We caught up with drivers Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee as well as team manager Andris Laivins to talk about their final push for a championship and the motorsports community in Austin.
Q: You’re three points back in the standings with only COTA and Road Atlanta left on the calendar. Being within striking distance of the title is a rare opportunity, How are planning to seize it?
Stevan McAleer: This is a very important race for us. We know there is going to be some serious competition here particularly our championship rivals but we are going out with confidence here. We won two years ago and we led last year. I personally would be disappointed if we didn’t end up on the podium here. I am not thinking about the championship until the last race at Road Atlanta we need to do a good job here first before we assess a title.
Chad McCumbee: We just need to go out there and do what we do. This season has been amazing for our ModSpace team and each week we have been successful as a team. Winning is the goal each and every week and that will be the goal once again.
Q: The team is based right here in Austin. How do you think the motorsports community in this city is taking shape?
Andris Laivins: Honestly, I was quite surprised when it was announced that COTA would be built in Austin a few years back; although we already had our shop here, it was a bit isolated from the motorsports world at large. Now, you can look back and see that COTA helped grow the racing community in Austin by leaps and bounds, on both the spectator and participant sides. It’s a small thing, but when we are racing in other parts of the country, and people ask where CJ Wilson Racing is based, it doesn’t seem like a surprise when you say “Austin, Texas” anymore. I think there is still a great amount of growth in racing that will happen here over the next 10 years, and we’re very happy to be a part of it!
Q: Chad, over the course of your career, you’ve successfully made the switch from predominantly ovals to road courses. What sort of adjustments did you have to make to your driving style to make the transition?
CM: There are so many aspects of sports car road racing that are different to ovals. A couple of adjustments that stick out are shifting and training your body to relate to the left side tires as primary loads versus ovals where it is always the opposite. I have been successful with gaining a great feel for a car and its components. Being able to translate the differences on a road course was something I had to think about and train my brain for.
Q: Both of you are well familiar with COTA by this point in your careers. How does it rank among the other circuits on your calendar? What stands out to you?
SM: COTA is a fun track for me. Winning in 2013 was my 1st CTSCC win with CJ Wilson Racing so it certainly is up there as one of my favorites on the schedule plus it really suits our ModSpace MX-5.
CM: COTA ranks among my favorite road courses I have been privileged to drive in. I earned my first career pole there and really think the track offers everything this type of racing has all in one amazing facility and layout.
Q: This is pretty much a home race for you. How do you feel about having home field advantage with a championship on the line.
SM: We have pace around this race track. Very similar to Watkins Glen we don’t expect to be the fastest car but we are always in the hunt. I am looking forward to crossing the finish line for a 3rd win this season and taking our championship lead back.
CM: Having home field advantage is huge. Our guys are all pumped up and our ModSpace Mazda is always fast here. Bringing the trophy the short distance back to the race shop is the goal!
Stevan and Chad do Austin proud all weekend long at Lone Star Le Mans September 17-19.
Photo: Sideline Sports Photography