Braun Is Gaining Valuable Experience In Various Types of Race Cars OVALO, Texas, Sept. 22 - When Colin Braun blows out the 17 candles on his birthday cake today, he'll make the same wish he's been making since he got his first go-kart engine on...
Braun Is Gaining Valuable Experience In Various Types of Race Cars
OVALO, Texas, Sept. 22 - When Colin Braun blows out the 17 candles on his birthday cake today, he'll make the same wish he's been making since he got his first go-kart engine on his fifth birthday, 12 years ago.
Braun dreams of becoming a paid professional race car driver who can get in any type of race car and go fast.
In his case, that dream isn't just wishful thinking. The teen from Ovalo, Texas has been getting a lot of valuable and very diverse experience this year that should help make that goal a reality sooner rather than later.
His first Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in February garnered a great deal of publicity, but there have been other valuable experiences too.
Take the last week of June, for example. Within the space of seven days Braun tested a Grand American Rolex series Daytona Prototype car for two days, then switched to a Hooters Pro Cup stock car, and then drove an asphalt late model.
The DP test came in Essex Racing's BottleRocket Sports & Entertainment/Team 16 Crawford Ford, which generates about 550 horsepower. He tested that car for two days at a track in Kershaw, N.C. before driving it in a Rolex series race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. in July. He became the youngest driver in history to start a Rolex series race in the Daytona Prototype class that day.
He drove the Hooters Pro Cup stock car, a 600-to-650-horsepower machine, at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, N.C. on June 27. Two days later his friend and Team16 teammate, Brad Coleman, who is already 17, let him try out his 400-horsepower asphalt late model at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C.
Braun has driven the car he competed in at the Rolex 24 a couple more times this year too. He drove that car, one of Kevin Buckler's Porsches, in Rolex series races on the road courses at both Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. and California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. after the Rolex 24.
"We qualified third in Kevin's car at Homestead, and we ran as high as second before something broke in the suspension and put us in the wall," Braun recalled. "We qualified sixth in GT at Fontana, but then we had some problems on a pit stop.
"We raced the Essex Daytona Prototype at Barber, and at one point in that race I had to drive through all the GT cars," he noted. "I passed about 20 GT cars in about four laps, which was a lot of fun."
In May Braun drove a 240-horsepower pro Star Mazda formula car at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and in August he participated in his first Grand-Am Cup race when he was invited to join factory Panoz driver Bryan Sellers behind the wheel of Southpaw Racing's Mazda RX-8 at the same track.
Of all these race cars, what type did he like best?
"Well, testing the stock cars was a lot of fun," he said. "It reminded me of my quarter midget days. I drove both of the stock cars on three-eighths-mile tracks, which was fun.
"Testing the Daytona Prototype was fun too," he continued. "It's more of a cross between the Porsche and the open-wheel stuff I've done, like when I drove the LMP2 [American Le Mans Series] car last year."
Although he hasn't been 17 for 24 hours yet, this coming year he'll still face the same challenge he's had for the last few years - not being old enough to drive in some series. But as they say in racing, he's gaining on it.
"I have to be 18 to run NASCAR Craftsman Trucks or the NASCAR Busch series, but I could run in the Hooters series or the short-track races for ARCA next year," he noted. "I'd really like to get a season-long deal in sports cars and stock cars both. We're talking to some people and there seems to be a lot of interest, so we'll have to wait and see what develops."
Whatever does develop, Braun has done his homework to get there.
For more information, see colinbraun.com.