The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is an important rung of the racing ladder for some of today’s most promising young stars. But a look from a different angle shows the foundation of the series resting on the shoulders of people like Fred Poordad.
Poordad, from San Antonio, is second in Platinum Masters standings with 11 podium finishes and two class wins this season. He is a solid, consistent driver in the No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche. But his story isn’t the one of an aspiring professional race car driver. It’s one of a scientific approach.
He didn’t start racing karts when he was kid. Growing up, he always wanted to be a doctor. And that’s what he did.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that Poordad, the vice president of Academic and Medical Affairs at the Texas Liver Institute and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, got the racing bug when a few friends bought shifter karts in Los Angeles.
The science of racing drew Poordad back to racing, even more than the excitement.
“All the non-racing friends think it’s the adrenaline, but I don’t really think it’s an adrenaline-based activity at all,” Poordad said. “For me, it’s the exactness of the sport. Understanding the physics of the car and knowing how to get it from point A to point B in the most efficient and quickest way.
“That skill set is so difficult to perfect. That’s what makes it a challenge to me. The challenge of coordinating your brain with the physical aspects of the sport and using strategy and racecraft. It keeps your brain and senses really honed and sharp. And it creates a level of pressure that makes some other things in life a little simpler.”
Poordad was first introduced to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama by watching a race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Fast forward six months later, and Poordad was the proud new owner of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and learning some of the finer nuances of racing.
In 2011, he entered Rounds 13 and 14 of the series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and finished fifth and seventh, respectively.
That was enough to convince him to enter into what he thought would be his first full season in 2012 in the Gold Cup class. But his successful first season, highlighted by three second-place finishes, was cut short by an incident at Road America.
But with the support of his wife, Poordad returned for a partial season in 2013 and produced three top-five finishes.
“When I crashed in 2012, I thought my racing days were done,” Poordad said. “But (my wife) was very supportive and ready for me to get back in the car. She’s always urging me to go faster, and she’s got a competitive side to her, which helps, as well.”
But 2014 is when Poordad really started to come into his own. He ran a full season and finished fourth in Gold Cup standings and third in the Gold Masters championship with one win and seven podium finishes in 16 races.
He was only seven points out of first place. That honor was held by Jeff Mosing, who leads Poordad by 15 points in the Platinum Masters class with two rounds remaining in the 2016 season.
Poordad made the switch to Platinum Cup last season with a West Coast-focused team. He raced outside of IMSA before returning this season with veteran, championship-winning Wright Motorsports after guidance from reigning Platinum Masters champion and Wright Motorsports veteran Kasey Kuhlman.
“My desire was always to do another year of IMSA,” Poordad said. “I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of different teams, and Wright exemplifies a really professional outfit. It’s been a great team for me.
“John Wright, Bob Viglione, driver coach Jan Heylen and the whole team have done a fantastic job. They’ve improved my craft and taken great care of the car.”
Despite being in the hunt for a championship, the internal competitiveness to continue to improve motivates the mild-mannered Poordad.
Poordad is on an uphill climb, continually improving each time behind the wheel. That keeps him in the car, but the balance of priorities is always at the forefront of his mind. Racing was never the dream, but it’s a balance he’s willing to strike.
“On race weeks, I try to leave work behind,” Poordad said. “It injects itself in some inopportune times, but I can’t really change that, and I’m grateful for the job that I do have. My priorities are family, work and then racing, in that order.”
“Racing has to fit into my life and not the other way around.”
Source. LST Marketing