Rising Star - Local Man Gets Taste of Rolex 24 at Daytona
If ever Derek DeBoer had a boring weekend, the local businessman made up for it last Saturday and Sunday.
Reach 190 mph driving a $600,000 Aston Martin racecar?
Compete alongside auto racing stars like Scott Dixon and Kyle Larson at Daytona International Speedway?
Get worldwide television recognition?
Hard to top that, right?
DeBoer hopes to. His memorable race in Florida was a gigantic step toward doing this kind of thing more often.
“It has been a long dream of mine,” DeBoer said. “Just being (at Daytona) was half of it. Then for it to go so well on the first attempt was beyond expectations.”
The 39-year-old DeBoer is the general manager of TC Chevy in Ashland. He is also a rising professional racecar driver whose dedication and networking led him to Daytona and the Rolex 24 race, a draining two-day event that tests the limits of the drivers and their machines. The race started on Saturday afternoon and ended Sunday afternoon. Teams of drivers raced two- or three-hour intervals in the same car before quickly handing off the vehicular baton.
The team with the most laps wins.
The 1993 Ashland High graduate and TRG-Aston Martin Racing finished eighth in the GTD Class and were 22nd out of 53 overall with 678 laps.
Dixon led Chip Ganassi Racing to a record-breaking sixth victory on Sunday. The three-time IndyCar champion relieved Larson, NASCAR’s reigning rookie of the year, with 3 hours, 32 minutes remaining in the endurance race.
DeBoer shared racing duties with Max Riddle, Eliseo Salazar, Kris Wilson and Brandon Davis.
DeBoer estimated he raced for about 6½ hours, using the track and infield at Daytona in the stunning 720-horsepower ride.
“It was a flawless race,” DeBoer said. “The strategy called by (team owner) Kevin Buckler was spot on. And you couldn’t ask for a better lineup of co-drivers.”
Being prepared physically was crucial in such a grueling event, DeBoer said. He does CrossFit and sticks to a Paleo Diet.
When he wasn’t racing, DeBoer said he “found a quiet place, tried to get a little something to eat” and then return to the pits within a two-hour timeframe of getting back in.
Racing with some of the world’s best was relieving, not intimidating, DeBoer recalled.
“It was actually comforting knowing you were with true professionals,” DeBoer said. “Drivers who make smart decisions and race hard and fair. I was feeling confident.”
DeBoer was notified two weeks ago that he would be helping navigate the 009 Aston Martin Vantage V12 in the season-opening TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event.
He traveled to Florida with wife Brooke, their three daughters and several other family members and co-workers.
DeBoer’s team dedicated the race to Greg Mills, a local friend who passed away earlier this month after a battle with cancer.
Racing fans around the world tuned into FOX, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 to take in the live action.
Before getting into racing, DeBoer was a tailback for state champion Ashland in football and also played basketball and baseball. He later was a professional wakeboarder for 12 years.
DeBoer asked his wife if he could pursue pro racing in 1998. She was very supportive, he said.
DeBoer took lessons at the Formula Driving School (a gift from Brooke) and began racing in the Formula Dodge Series. He built his own endurance car and raced pro last year without as much support.
DeBoer said he and Buckler hit it off while DeBoer was attending a race a while back.
“I knocked on the TRG door and received a warm welcome and that quickly turned into a relationship,” DeBoer said.
With the help of Buckler, Black Rider Racing Group president Shane Sterling and sponsor B.R.M Chronographes, DeBoer will be able run the entire 18-race Pirelli schedule.
He also hopes to do more TUDOR series events.
DeBoer will next compete in the Pirelli World Challenge in Austin, Texas, in March.
“It’s been wonderful to be with such a top-notch team,” DeBoer said.
For more information, visit derekdeboerracing.com.
Article Credit: Dan Jones - Mail Tribune