One of the first experiences I had that really instilled a passion for racing and competition came when I received my first gaming console, a first gen PlayStation, and a game that will echo in the minds and voices of anyone who grew up gaming in the late 90's. The original Gran Turismo was a revolutionary step toward becoming the behemoth franchise that it has become today. I would not begin to think at that time the impact this single piece of virtual entertainment media would have on my visions for my future, and the path it would eventually set me on.
My original copy of the iconic Gran Turismo
After starting the game, and watching the intro movie repeatedly, I would just stare in awe of the abundance of vehicles and courses in the game. This game released in 1999, and at the very impressionable age of 11, I would be idealizing every car in the game. The passion for racing really developed in this era of my life and this wouldn't change even too this day. As the years past, and more releases started to appear, I could not stop myself in owning every iteration of the series.
My complete collection of the Gran Turismo Series (1999 - 2017)
Some of you may be saying, this is an only-child life, and some (all) of you thinking this would be correct. I was most definitely spoiled as a kid, but there were life lessons to be learned through these years, which leads me to my point that none of this would have been possible without the support from my very loving parents (Charles and Michelle).
My father was a graduated mechanical engineer (now self taught computer programmer) and automotive gearhead, and my mother is the complete opposite. She was very much more refined and passionate in the areas of art and music. I believe together, they both gave me more than enough tools to succeed in life as a versatile human being whom has both curiosity in mechanisms and Motorsports, but enjoys the complexities and sophistication of music, art, and photography. I was brought up well and have learned the very important character traits of humility, morality, ethics, honesty, compassion, and respect for others.
My life was not aligned along a single track. I had a life outside of my room full of games and did grow-up playing soccer for about 6 years of my early childhood, as well as basketball, baseball, and even roller hockey for a few seasons. Over those years of my life, I have gained many long term friendships as well as developed a very focused determination to succeed and win. This is where my competitive side grew and became second nature to everything I will do in life. Anytime someone says they can best me in something, whether I am good at that something or not, I literally (not literally) have a fire growing inside to prove them wrong. If I did not succeed or do well, it would definitely hit my morale and confidence, but would eventually strengthen my determination to overcome my obstacles holding me back. I believe it is important not to demoralize anyone. Competition can bring the worst out in people, but it can also unite in a way that can't really be described, only felt. Losing can really give perspective and motivation to win. It's this feeling that will grow that determination, a metaphorical fire, inside that does not want to be extinguished.
Fast forward a bit more, and my life in R/C (remote control) car racing begins. This journey, for about 3 years of my life, got me interested more in the mechanical and technical aspect of racing and becoming more competitive through modifying the cars within the legal limits to have the most competitive edge possible.
Working on a 1/12th scale electric-powered R/C pan car
Collection of images from my life in R/C car racing
At the ages of 12 and 13, I was racing against people 2 and 3 times my age competitively across the major cities of Texas. I don't know what it was, but at this point in my life, I have never become so determined and focused at something that I began to develop tunnel vision to the stage of unconsciousness when I raced. I could only visualize the car, and where it needed to go to overtake the others out there. It was that vision, and that energy that fueled the few successes I had in that venue, and I can say that these were some of the best years of my life as a result. These successes did not lead me to any sponsors or local or national attention, but what meant more to me at that stage of my life was impressing both my parents and my friends of what I was able to do with a car, albeit a 1/10th or 1/12th scale version.
It was at this point in my life that I began to be confident in my ability to succeed despite the odds. I was younger, less experienced, less practiced, smaller budget, etc. I didn't let any of these roadblocks deter my motivation to win! My dad and I raced for 3 years together, and he was ecstatic to see my success so young and even when it seemed to come effortlessly for me. I still carry this determination, motivation, and confidence nearly a decade later at the age of 23 where I began to investigate the world of autocross racing.