Series spotlight - Chip Scarlett

Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Rookie Chip Scarlett Racing To Save His Life and the Lives of Sharks Tooele, UT-- (1 March 2010) -- The season-opening Ford Racing Mustang Challenge races at Homestead Miami Speedway next weekend will see some new...

Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Rookie Chip Scarlett Racing To Save His Life and the Lives of Sharks

Tooele, UT-- (1 March 2010) -- The season-opening Ford Racing Mustang Challenge races at Homestead Miami Speedway next weekend will see some new faces in the paddock as the series continues to attract new drivers to contest the 11-round championship season in 2010. One of the new racers will likely raise some eyebrows with the livery on his Ford Mustang FR500S, and his story is hard to ignore.

Chip Scarlett, who was trained as a physician before moving into the business world with several engagements within the bio-technology and pharmaceutical industries, will be making his debut start in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge when the series hits the high banks in South Florida as part of the GRAND-AM Miami Grand Prix.

Like many in the Mustang Challenge, Scarlett is a graduate of the Ford Racing High Performance Driving Center at Miller Motorsports Park, and has already raced in several MPRA events.

"The first time that I was in a race car, it was more challenging than I expected, and that really motivated me to pursue it," said Scarlett. "I've really enjoyed the competitive aspects of it--not necessarily the dog, eat dog, of racing, but primarily with myself--pushing myself as far as I can, and then seeing where that has me stacking up."

After getting his first laps in, Scarlett decided to go full-force into the sport, working his way methodically through in preparation for his Mustang Challenge debut this weekend.

"After selling my last company, I had more time to work with and I decided that this was a good place to put my competitive energies," said Scarlett. "I did a few racing schools, but what I liked first and foremost at the Miller School was that they had a program that was going to work with my longer term desire to go racing. I knew that I wanted to race a rear-wheel drive car, but I wanted something with more muscle than the Miata series, and wasn't a Porsche guy and then looking beyond that, the Ferrari Challenge didn't particularly interest me. I found that with the Mustang Challenge, racing the FR500S has me getting my toe in serious racing, but in a car that is forgiving, and fun to drive."

The head-first effort to go racing follows another significant pursuit for Scarlett, who went from being a first-time driver to an expert underwater photographer after years of effort. Scarlett's images (http://www.johnscarlett.com ), will also be published in two months in a book titled Loving Sharks.

"For me, I have a personality type that really focuses on mastering things," said Scarlett. "When I first started diving, I just wanted to master it and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do that. Extending that pursuit by becoming as good as I could be with underwater photography was really gratifying to me. It is the same thing I've done in business--become a student, worked very hard, and then tried to master it. I hope that translates into racing. I want to be successful, which to me means doing well within my expectations and continuing to get better. Hopefully there is a podium in my future!"

But Scarlett, who was trained as a physician before moving into the business world, isn't just out to get faster. He's also ambitious with his goal of raising awareness for a cause that might not seem obvious to many. The time he spent underwater didn't just produce thousands of breathtaking images, it also contributed to his tremendous respect and admiration for one of waters' greatest predators, which find themselves increasingly at risk every day.

"I am working with Shark Savers because they are taking the message to the consumers, rather than trying to influence governments or doing research," said Scarlett. "They are taking the message to the people, and I want to be a part of that effort. Like most people, the first time that I saw a shark underwater, I was terrified. But over the space of many years, I learned that they are a graceful, amazing, but misunderstood animal. I've gone from seeing hundreds of sharks when I would dive years ago to the situation we are in now, where many divers go a lifetime without seeing sharks because we are killing them. I'm trained as a scientist, and this is a very bad thing to be losing them. You simply have to have top predators to keep ecosystems healthy."

While the ambition to preserve the ecosystem and save the sharks is a huge focus for Scarlett, the racing is also another opportunity for Scarlett to continue his pursuit of another sort--saving his own life. Despite his medical training, and his work in bio technology, some two years ago Scarlett found himself facing a problem that plagues many--obesity and all the threats that that condition creates including diabetes.

So Scarlett did something about it--going to Stanford and having gastric bypass surgery performed. He lost 100 pounds, and credits the procedure and his new lifestyle for "giving me back my life."

"Had I not had the focus on the sharks, I would have probably never had the surgery...but I did, and it allowed me to get back in the water," said Scarlett. "So I feel as though as much as I'm trying to save the lives of sharks, I am just returning the favor as they've already saved my life. And without that happening, I'd have never in a million years been able to think about doing anything like going racing."

Scarlett will get to move closer to his pursuit this weekend when the green flag flies on race one of the double header race weekend.

-source: frmc

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