Plenty of Staples students follow their parents into the same profession. I-banking, the corporate world, arts and entertainment — it’s natural to keep doing what you’ve been brought up around.
Spencer Brockman is a race car driver. Quite a switch for a Westport kid, huh?
Not really. Spencer’s dad — Michael — raced nearly every form of car and truck from Watkins Glen to Baja. He was a teammate (and friend) of fellow Westporter Paul Newman. Michael later served as chief test driver for Motor Trend magazine. Today he owns a Volvo dealership in Milford.
But that “family business” angle isn’t the most impressive thing about this story.
It’s that Spencer is still only a freshman at Staples High School.
At age 9 — just a few years ago — Spencer raced go-karts. He won the first race he was in, and was named Rookie of the Year. Now he’s moved up to full-size Formula cars.
Spencer looks like — well, a high school freshman. The kind you’d want your kid to hang out with (or date).
But his polite, cherubic demeanor grows animated as he talks about racing. “I love the adrenaline rush,” he says.
Though only 15, he already has his Sports Car Club of America license. He got it after completing a training school in California last year. He learned how to control a full-size race car.
In his case, that’s a Formula 2000, 2-liter, 4-cylinder, 210-horse vehicle. It goes 150 miles an hour.
He’s raced from New York and Atlanta to the West Coast. He’s in the middle class in his series. There are minimum ages, but no maximums. Most of his fellow racers are in their 20s. One — in his 50s — was racing loooong before Spencer was born.
None are younger than Spencer.
He finished 4th in his first pro race, at Palm Beach this past February. He admits he was nervous — but he was hooked.
He won his very next time — in the rain.
“I just try to learn every track,” Spencer says. As if that explains how a 15-year-old kid from Westport can be one of the top drivers in his series, a mere 3 months after he began.
His father helps, of course, with tips. His mother “loves what I do,” Spencer says. But she does not watch him compete. (He calls her after every race.)
His friends don’t realize how difficult auto racing is. “I’m not just sitting in a car,” Spencer notes. “It’s very physical. There’s no power steering. When you’re trying to force the car into a turn at high speed, you need a lot of physical strength. And cardio.” He goes to the gym every day, paying particular attention to his neck.
Balancing schoolwork is not easy. There are weekday races, as well as weekends. “I know I have to keep my grades up. Otherwise I won’t be able to race. That would be really bad,” Spencer says.
He’s learned plenty of non-school lessons on the track. “Focus is huge,” he says. So is sportsmanship. “Racers are really respectful. We’re all friends. But that fades once we start.”
His first bad wreck came a month ago, in Atlanta. He went into a turn too fast. The car slid badly, on wet grass. Spencer hit the tire barrier.
No biggie. His crew fixed the car, and he’s back for more.
His goal is Formula 1 in Europe — the “creme de la creme,” he says. To do that, he’ll have to keep improving.
Spencer also needs sponsors. He and his dad are searching for them right now. Maybe they can hit up some i-bankers — you know, that other type of father-son duos in Westport.
(To learn more, search for “Spencer Brockman Racing” on Facebook. For sponsorship information, email firstname.lastname@example.org)