When Harry Voigt wanted to explain in his college application essay what life experiences helped reshape his definition – from a dyslexic little boy thinking ‘I was stupid’ to a fearless naturally on the race track – Voigt took his readers out of the stands and behind the wheel with him.
“My eyes focus on the checkered flag, and I feel like I’m approaching in a jet. The engine roars loudly and the smell of burning rubber as I tear through the last corner. I see all the different colored shirts of the fans and waving hands with cameras, ”he wrote.
The fans are getting louder. He feels the wind rushing through his helmet, “cooling my sweaty head.” His hands hurt and he “can barely hold the wheel any longer.”
“I see the flag getting bigger and bigger, then in the blink of an eye it’s gone. The motor goes quiet, the speed drops and my excitement takes off, ”he wrote.
The heat rises from the track and fans fall silent as he moves on to a recovery lap. His hands “smell like someone is hitting them with a hammer” and his “nose is filled with a strong smell of gasoline.”
“I’m like, wow, I just won my first professional race at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas,” he wrote.
It is far from being his only title. In September, the 20-year-old Lone Tree won second place at the 2021 National Auto Sport Association Spec Miata Championships held at Daytona International Speedway. He placed first in the Teen Mazda Challenge.
“It was so exciting,” Voigt’s mother, Pamela, said. “The goosebumps continue.”
The race at Daytona was a bucket list opportunity. The famous track is known for its long straights where writing is crucial, Voigt said. For this reason, having a writing partner is ideal. One car following another closely can increase drivers’ speed by several miles per hour.
“It’s just physics,” Voigt said.
In a series of practice sessions and qualifying events for the national championships, Voigt placed well, remaining in the top 10. But he struggled to find another driver to team up with, which made him difficult to find another driver to team up with. ‘left to fend for the time of the race.
As the championship test began, Voigt found himself just outside the top eight drivers, he said.
“I had to drive absolute hell out of the car to follow them,” he said.
The Championships epitomized how strategy and fate come into play in a race, Voigt said. Two cars were knocked out in an accident and Voigt closed the gap to fifth. He focused on staying consistent and not making mistakes in his conduct, he said. Then another car was struck by debris and had to flee.
“This stuff sucks, I don’t want to see this,” Voigt said.
Despite rising through the ranks, Voigt was still without a partner, trying to keep pace with the top drivers. Then another pilot, Matt Cresci, slowed down just enough for Voigt to catch up with him. Finally, he had found his partner.
“We took off and loaded up to second or third place in a lap or two,” he said.
A breakaway of three cars ensues. At the end of the lightning race, Voigt and Cresci chased lead driver Preston Pardus. Pardus finally took first place. Voigt was led by less than a second and secured second place.
After the races, the crews dismantle the winning cars, removing the engine to look for any sign that a competitor has cheated. The intention is that each car should also be matched so that “the race is on the driver’s side,” Voigt said.
During his inspection, technicians discovered that Voigt’s transmission was about to explode, but managed to hold out – another chance that was in Voigt’s favor.
“I shouldn’t have been able to finish the race,” he said.
The 20-year-old who expressed his love of running on the page speaks with equal passion for the sport in the conversation.
“I learned so much about myself in the race,” he said.
He was 17 at the time of his first professional victory, but his love for the sport was sparked years earlier when his father took him to a go-kart track around the age of 10. As he wrote in his essay, school had been difficult for him with not only a diagnosis of dyslexia but ADHD as well.
The race was different. Speed doesn’t scare him and he quickly learns the art of running.
“Being an inch off the ground, without even going overboard, going to 90 in a kart,” he said. “You feel the G forces.”
He took to the local tracks on weekends for fun, eventually catching the attention of an employee who told his dad he saw raw talent in the young speedster. The man suggested investing in a kart.
At 12, that’s exactly what her parents did. Voigt had worked hard in school, they said, and as a reward, they surprised him with his own set of wheels.
Voigt started competing all over Colorado around the age of 14, often alongside adults, and almost immediately won competitions. Her bedroom in the basement of her family home has shelves full of trophies and walls lined with memorabilia.
The room is also where he spends much of his training time, using software connected to a model racing car. Real time on the track is expensive. The same goes for all sport.
To travel. Vehicle maintenance. Race registration fees. Voigt doesn’t get paid to run, but thanks to the sponsors he doesn’t pay to run either. Practicing at home helps it stay competitive without some of the financial burden, he said.
At home, he climbs through the tight space between the seat and the steering wheel and sits there for hours before a competition, racing on the screen and receiving virtual coaching from a mentor who sends him notes. by email.
“The seat, pedal and steering wheel are pretty much quite worthy of a race car,” he said.
A passion for life
Running teaches his son valuable life lessons, such as dealing with pressure and being put on the spot, said Voigt’s father Brian. Thinking back to the national championships in September, Brian said he and Pamela “always knew Harry was capable of this level of competition”.
“How many times have you heard me say, ‘You’re as fast as these guys,’” Brian told Voigt. “I’m not sure Harry always believed it.
Voigt would love to run as a career, but he also remains focused on getting his degree. He is now studying business at Lynn University in Florida. Whatever the future holds, “racing will always be a part of my life,” he said.
“It just seems to be a part of me,” he said.