This is a historical archive for Tom & Rick Sutherland, Wheel Works Racing, Sutherland Racing and ClickAway Racing
Los Gatos Father/Son Double Racing EffortWhile many families are planning a relaxing summer vacation, one Los Gatos family is heading for a dual run in two of the top auto racing venues in the world. June 11-13, father Rick Sutherland will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a world renowned event made famous by Steve McQueen in a movie by the same name. Simultaneously, 15-year-old Los Gatos High School freshman, Tom Sutherland, will compete in rounds three and four of the Formula BMW USA Championship in support of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
"In April, I turned 15, got my license to drive formula race cars, and drove my first car flat out on a track in Florida," the younger Sutherland said. "It's a little weird being able to drive a race car at 140mph even though I don't have a regular driver's license yet, but I'm not complaining." Tom Sutherland is the youngest of 16 drivers in the series where ages range from 15 to 28. In fact, the only other 15-year-old is Graham Rahal, son of Bobby Rahal who's team, co-owned by David Letterman of the Tonight Show, won the Indianapolis 500 during the Memorial Day weekend. Sutherland got his start racing go-karts but many of his counterparts have much more experience racing other cars as well. "In my first race at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut last weekend, I was able to cut my lap times by 6 seconds to within a second of my teammates and within two seconds of the pole sitter," Sutherland said. "I may have a bit steeper learning curve than others, but I'm catching on fast."
For dad, Rick Sutherland, watching his son follow in his footsteps is a thrill. Rick began racing formula cars in the 1980s, but at a much later age. This will be his second attempt at the grueling 24 hour race in France, just a few hours south of Paris near the Loire Valley. His car, the #32 Lola Judd V8 will race in the Prototype 2 class at Le Mans and will hit 190 mph on the famous Mulsane Straight. Up to the minute timing and scoring information can be found at www.lemans.com. Speedvision will cover most of the event live. Check your local listings for times. "Last year my whole family was there to see my debut at Le Mans," Sutherland said. "It is disappointing for me to miss Tom's race in Montreal. I find it equally enjoyable to drive as well as to mentor him. By getting such an early start, Tom will have a huge advantage if this is the path he chooses to take. He's under a lot of pressure, especially for a 15-year-old. I'm very proud of him." In Montreal, Tom Sutherland will share the paddock area with many of his idols, including leading Formula One drivers, Michael Schumacher and his brother Ralf Schumacher. The 2.7 mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is situated on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence Seaway and offers a real challenge for the drivers when setting up their cars. With two hairpins, and a wide variety of slow and fast corners, traction and good braking balance are required.
The Formula BMW USA series began this year to help gifted young drivers progress from go-karts to single-seaters. The young drivers are offered an education and coaching program that gives them the best possible preparation for a career in auto racing. Formula One driver, Ralf Schumacher, competed in his first formula race at the age of 17. In addition to track time, the drivers are taught;
*Driving Technique and Strategy
*Vehicle Dynamics and Chassis Set-up
*Fitness Training and Nutrition
*Media Training and Public Relations
*Sponsoring and Sport Management
In Connecticut on Memorial Day weekend, Tom Sutherland, along with his teammates, began a fitness assessment and training program under the guidance of BMW Motorsports in Germany and their medical staff. For Sutherland, who also is on the Frosh/Soph football team and the freshman basketball team at Los Gatos High, he found the fitness demands of racing to be similar and complimentary to his school sports and vice versa.
"You have to be aggressive, quick and physically fit to participate well in all three of these sports," he said. "The strength training in football helps me in both basketball and racing. When I was evaluated by BMW, I was just as fit if not more so than my 18-22-year-old competition." Sutherland is part of the four-car Prototype Technology Group (Team PTG) out of Winchester, Virginia. The Formula BMW FB02 race cars are made of a special carbon-fibre composite weave, making the car extremely light and structurally sound. A four-cylinder engine is taken from the BMW K 1200 RS motorcycle. Its output of 140 bhp is enough to accelerate the 455-kilogram car from standstill to 60 mph in less than four seconds and to a top speed of up to 140mph, depending on the gear ratios used. More information can be found at www.bmwmotorsports.com and www.ptgracing.com. Local venues for the Sutherlands will be at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey on September 11-12, when Tom Sutherland finishes his first season in the Formula BMW USA Championship as a support event for the Indy Car Monterey Grand Prix. Rick Sutherland will compete in the American Le Mans Series at the Infinion Raceway in Sonoma (formerly known as Sears Point) on July 17-18 And Laguna Seca October 16-17 driving for Intersport Racing.