Brian Wong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2011, 12:00am


WHEEL SPINS I grew up in southern California, in Orange County. I was born and raised there and I am - I think - fifth-generation Californian-Chinese. So I am as far away from being Chinese as possible - I only look the part. I was a beach kid and only really got into racing seriously when I was about 14. I'd always loved cars growing up. As a little kid I rode off-road dirt bikes and did a little motorcycle racing. We'd go camping out in the desert and do that fun stuff as a family. Anything with a motor, I was on it. My family had no history in motor sports at all. I just liked playing with toy cars as a kid and it stuck. It grew into a passion as I got older.

THE ODD COUPLE There's not a lot of racing in southern California, so I started in what they call Legend cars. [The Legend is] basically a little open-wheel car with a motorcycle engine in it. It weighs nothing and handles terribly, but it's the only thing I could drive at such a young age. I was terrified. At the start it was just me and my dad, and we had no idea what we were doing. Everyone was looking at this Asian father-son combination, and we had no idea what was going on. No parts. No tools. Nothing. But we had a good time and I was either going to go home hating it or loving it. I went home and couldn't sleep for a week. I couldn't wait to get out there again.

MY OTHER CAR IS A PORSCHE There's an oval track about an hour outside of Los Angeles where they have a Nascar [National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing] school. That's where I got my start in the more serious stuff. So I was driving Nascars from the age of about 14 to 17. When I was 17, we dusted off the old Legend car and headed out to Las Vegas to race and there just happened to be a local Porsche club racing at the same time. I talked my way into one of the cars - and I fell in love with road racing. That's what eventually led me out here to Asia and the Porsche Carrera Cup series. The first time I came to China was last December. I had no idea what was going on in the country. Since then I've been back about eight times. Everywhere I go - from Ordos [in Inner Mongolia] to Shanghai to Beijing - I've been trying to arrive a few days before the races or stay a few days after just to soak it all up. It really is amazing what is going on here with motorsports and to be able to see the country as well.

I went to Northeastern University in Boston for two years and was flying back and forth to races all over the States. It was tough trying to do both. So about 18 months ago, I started studying online, and that released a lot of the pressure. So I am slowly chugging away at my media and business communications degree, but have more time to get this career moving.

LAYING DOWN TRACKS I still hit the oval, Nascar tracks, from time to time and the attention that has brought me - as what they call the 'first Asian driver' - has been great. You go to these tracks in the middle of the United States and see people kind of scratching their heads, as it's something they are not used to seeing. They must think I'm lost or something. It's such a huge sport in the US and it's a thrill to be involved. My fans out here in Asia are interested in what I am doing in the US and my fans in the US are interested in what I am doing out here. It's a unique way of being able to bring both my cultures together. I'm doing a full a season here in the Porsche Carrera Cup series and then half a season with the Le Mans Tour in the US. It's going to get crazy in the next couple of months but that's what the game is all about.

WIN WIN SITUATION In the beginning, you are just excited to be in the car and driving, but now, of course, all I want to do is win. I have a team [Absolute Racing] and some great people behind me, so I know I have got to get out there and win. I'm at the point in my career where I want to push things up to the next level. That's got a lot to do with self-motivation and drive, but it is what I have to do. First and foremost I am a super competitive guy - all racers are, even if it's not obvious. If it's driving a rental car to and from the hotel, I have to be first to the hotel. I have to be first on an airplane, first in everything. I have fun with that, with my friends and family. Right now my life is all about winning and evolving my career.