For fans of sportscar racing, the name Andrew Norvich should ring a bell. He has been a fixture in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge since 2010, and, with his recent move to the Comprent Motor Sports team in the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series, he is now one step closer to his goal of racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
"The ultimate goal is to race in the TUDOR series," Novich said. "We chose to compete in Prototype Lites after three seasons in Continental because the carbon-tubbed Lites car is more relevant to the purpose-built race cars in TUDOR than the front-wheel-drive sedan I was racing in before."
Engineering has fascinated California native Novich from a young age. His first venture, at age 11, was a plan to build a half-pipe to fulfill his skateboarding ambitions. That soon changed when he realized he didn't have any 2x4's lying around his yard, but there was an old lawnmower with missing blades, but an engine that worked just fine. An enterprising Novich "borrowed" his mom's credit card to finance his first go-kart kit from eBay.
"It was one of those things that you couldn't really return," Novich said. "Eventually she gave in a let me keep it."
Novich built the kart in his garage and drove it around his neighborhood in the mornings before school. Upset neighbors and strong suggestions from local law enforcement encouraged him to take the home-built kart to nearby Sonoma Raceway.
After five years of karting, he was invited to compete in Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. He earned three top-10 finishes and two top-10 starts in only 10 races during his first season. Volkswagen discontinued the series in 2010, and Novich stepped up into the ultra-competitive Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge with Honda, earning his first professional win in 2013 in the ST class.
"To be successful in racing takes more than being quick," Novich said. "In order to last in this sport there needs to be a successful business to back the effort, in the form of sponsorship or otherwise."
His mother always has supported him and his racing aspirations. As a business owner, she helped her son gain perspective about sponsorships and making racing financially sustainable.
"Since I was 14, I have structured my life around my racing," Novich said. "If I leverage my business ideas properly, I won't have the worry of sponsorship dollars. I will always have a drive in the paddock."
Racing has not only become his passion but also an outlet, a time to relax from his hectic school and work schedule. Before the season opener in March at Sebring, he finished final exams and flew directly to Florida. The same thing will happen at his next race, June 7 at Kansas Speedway.
"When you're in the car, you let your brain go on autopilot, you just experience it," Novich said. "There's nothing like strapping in and the feeling you get going around the corners at 2G's. There is nothing else I'd rather do."
Race fans in the West Palm Beach area can find the occasional broadcast of the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series on WHDT Channel 9, part of the Auto Channel. Check local listings for time and channel, though they are not always accurate!
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