Q&A with Jeff Courtney
LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
Q&A with GT racer Jeff Courtney
Story by Ashley van Dyke
Pictures by Richard Prince
Kenda Tires and Jeff Courtney, a Midwest business entrepreneur with a natural talent for maneuvering high-powered racecars, are at it again in this year’s World Challenge. The GT racer has created an impressive driving career since his early years when he began competing in 2003. Ashley van Dyke had the chance to sit down with Jeff Courtney and ask him a few questions about his program this year and learn what this road racer is all about:
Ashley van Dyke: How old were you when you first found a love for racing and what memory stands out from it?
Jeff Courtney: My dad was a motorcycle racer who unfortunately passed away when I was about one year old, but I had a house full of older brothers who I believe carried the same passion for speed and competition, and our yard was always full of cool cars, motorcycles and other toys that would ultimately gray our mother’s hair!
Ashley van Dyke: Recall your first win in motorsports and what did it mean to you?
Jeff Courtney: That was a long time ago, but I think there was a nervous excitement that lasted about a day and then next race could not come fast enough!
Ashley van Dyke: What is the most challenging part about sports car racing?
Jeff Courtney: The dedication and time it takes just to get yourself to the track and put your sponsor deals together to make the program work. We are running our own team this year and that has brought more work and effort as well – racing requires a lot of planning and logistics before you even get to the race track. Then, when I show up I try to focus on just driving the car and getting it setup to the best of its ability.
Ashley van Dyke: How long have you been working with Kenda Tires as a partner and what is your favorite product they make?
Jeff Courtney: I have known and worked with Kenda for at least 15 years, and have partnered with them in motorsports since before 2003. Jimmy (Yang), President of Kenda Tires, and members of Kenda team have all become great friends over the years. The best thing about Kenda is that the company is so diverse. No one matches their quality and range of products from golf cart, bicycle, motorcycle, lawn & garden, trailer and agricultural to passenger and light truck. I can’t tell you how many times during a race weekend someone in the paddock approaches me either telling me they have Kenda tires on something they own or asking me where to get them. It is satisfying to hear that from our fans and knowing our program is playing a part in Kenda’s growth.
Ashley van Dyke: Speed Seat Factory is a recent partner addition to JCR Motorsports, how important is it for drivers to be comfortable while racing?
Jeff Courtney: Speed Seat Factory is a great local Wisconsin company, owned and operated by racers! Gayle Gaborsky and Jody Seidler have made the process so easy; it is hard to believe that this is the first time in my career that I have had a custom fitted seat. I will not run without one again! The benefits are just so obvious, there is no question it improves lap times, safety and limits fatigue.
Ashley van Dyke: What sport are you most passionate about, other than racing of course?
Jeff Courtney: That’s tough because I like all sports, but I would say golf and football.
Ashley van Dyke: What is your favorite race track in North America and why?
Jeff Courtney: Road Atlanta because I like the track and have found some success there – but I could have easily named Road America, Laguna Seca or Mid-Ohio.
Ashley van Dyke: Following a big racing weekend, what’s your ideal way of unwinding?
Jeff Courtney: I would say staying an extra day or two in whatever city we raced in and exploring it with my girlfriend. We like to relax and find a nice dinner place and a glass of wine! Or if we head straight home I try to get in a game of golf with friends.
You can check out more information on Jeff Courtney at jeffcourtneyracing.com and follow @JeffCourtney99 and #Kenda99 on Twitter.