USA: Rob Bunker Laguna Seca preview

Rob Bunker has an eye on the future. While most his age (16) are sufficiently engrossed in the moment, Bunker has a five-year plan. And that's just the start. The Bridgewater, N.J., driver starts his first season in the Formula BMW USA ...

Rob Bunker has an eye on the future. While most his age (16) are sufficiently engrossed in the moment, Bunker has a five-year plan. And that's just the start.

The Bridgewater, N.J., driver starts his first season in the Formula BMW USA Championship this week, driving the No. 18 Aim Autosport Formula BMW FB2 car in two races at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. With 17 days of on-track testing to date and an intense physical and mental training session at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., Bunker is ready.

He doesn't fit the stereotype of an egocentric athlete. In fact, Bunker's attention is on the mechanical setup of his car. "I'm just trying to get in a rhythm where I can say, 'The car is doing this, I would like it to do that.' I'm not so much worried about what I want; I'm worried about what the car wants," he explained.

He can focus on the car because his personal preparation is covered. With coaching from Speed Secrets Driver Development Services, he has acquired the skills to maximize his performance.

"The car itself is able to work at 100 per cent efficiency right out of the box. All it needs is to warm up the engine, the tires and things like that," Bunker noted. "Humans usually start off a bit slower. The idea is to get me warmed up at the same pace that the car is getting warmed up. There are certain techniques we use at Speed Secrets to increase the amount the mind is working, increase heart rate and keep my vision up and out."

Bunker may signal a new breed of driver, those who recognize the value of coaching. He thinks his age may be a factor. Many drivers start in the family car, then move on to race cars. Bunker wasn't old enough to drive a street vehicle when he started racing, so he didn't think he was already a hot driver.

"Without coaching, I don't know where I would be. I think it's a critical component in just about every sport," he said. "Everyone imagines driving a car -- I do that every day, I drive my car to work every day. But it's not really the same. I like to have every opportunity I can to be the most efficient driver on and off the track."

With coaching and a specialized fitness regime, Bunker is preparing for the future. He wants to race and win, with physical strength to spare: "If I was in a Formula BMW car for the next five years, I'd definitely be fit enough to drive for two-hour races. But someday, I'm going to get in a car with 800 horsepower or drive an endurance race. I want to be able to get out and celebrate!"

-sp-

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Series Formula BMW