MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 14, 2005)- Five years can be a lot of things. It can be a college career or the time it takes to pay off a car. It can mean starting a family and putting your oldest child in kindergarten. It can also be a personal transition period – a time of change and growth. For SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge driver Charles Espenlaub, five years spans the length of his World Challenge career, and the change he has undergone as a driver in that time is phenomenal.-30-
Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., is a motivated man, especially when it comes to competition. He has been known to jump out of his ride just to run directly into his trailer where he will spend hours pouring over new performance data – evaluating his performance and looking for ways to be faster the next time out.
“We spend hours and hours going over data acquisition when we’re off the track,” the 37 year old driver said. “That actually helps me more than anything for sure.”
That statement appears to be accurate, considering that with one race still remaining, Espenlaub has amassed season personal bests in several categories, including wins (one), top-fives (four) and top-tens (seven).
While doing his homework has been key, Espenlaub said he recognized that other factors, including growing confidence by his Tindol Motorsports crew in him and vice versa, have played a significant role in his progress.
“Probably some discipline on my part,” Espenlaub said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that when I go out on the track I have a great car. It’s a great relationship we have between the crew and myself.”
Granted, spending time pouring over numbers and working with teammates is something that all teams do, but it’s the intensity with which Espenlaub drinks in information that sets him apart. He devours it – scouring every detail with an underlying, slow-burn type of passion that comes to the surface when he’s behind the wheel.
It’s the quiet roar with which Espenlaub competes that has made his rivals take notice. His on-track presence is strong to the point that it keeps others checking their mirrors. And even more than that, the other drivers know that, given the chance, Espenlaub will blow right past them.
Knowing that characteristic exists, one can only smile and nod when finding out that Espenlaub cites “Fight Club” as his favorite movie.
“I was just fascinated with the concept of that movie,” Espenlaub said. “I could have seen myself going and doing something like that had I not gotten into racing. I guess I share some of the same ideals that were in that movie.”
Espenlaub may need a “back-against-the-wall” mentality this weekend at the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca because, like it or not, he is the man to beat after winning the SPEED Touring Car Round 10 race at Mosport International Raceway.
If that wasn’t enough pressure for someone who is just beginning to get used to being in the limelight, some onlookers have pegged Espenlaub as someone who could factor into the outcome in the Mazda/Acura battle for the SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine.
No matter how much pressure others try to put on him, Espenlaub said he already understands what this Sunday’s race could mean.
“I try to think it doesn’t add any pressure, but it probably does,” Espenlaub said. “I’ve already gone through a ton of different scenarios on how it could work. Jeff Altenburg and I have talked about every day on how different things could play out and how we can get that Manufacturers’ title for Mazda.
“This is definitely the most important race of my career as far as the potential benefit to Mazda and for myself. We’ll definitely go out there and give it our all.”
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