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The Making Of A Motorsports Athlete: Scott Tucker Is Disciplined And Focused

When Level 5 Motorsports owner-driver Scott Tucker is asked by the media whether he’s proud of his incredible achievements in the motorsports industry, he usually answers something like, “I’ve worked really hard to get here, and I’m proud of what I’ve done.” He might be proud, but you never get the idea that he’s surprised. After all, it’s no fluke that a 44-year-old private equity investor from Kansas City would decide to begin a professional motorsports career and actually excel at the sport to the point that he’s now considered an elite race car driver. Professional racing is not for everyone; inside the car, temperatures are sweltering. The g-forces feel like you’re flying a plane. At triple-digit speeds, the slightest move off-balance could send you into the boards or worse, another driver. So although the rest of the world sees Tucker take the podium race after race, what they don’t see is the amount of preparation required for just one race, much less races in all five series Tucker entered this season.

Just this year, Tucker has taken the podium at numerous race tracks, including Road America at the Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs—his third consecutive win there—Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway most recently at American Le Mans Series Monterey, and at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans. Each of these races is an endurance race; none of Tucker’s ALMS or Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series races were less than 6 hours, and most were in the 10­-12-hour range. With teams of drivers taking single or double shifts sometimes three hours at a time, each driver must be in impeccable physical shape. The amount of concentration a driver must maintain for extended periods of time is challenged by high temperatures and the need to keep the body completely balanced in order to control the car. Tucker has said he loses seven pounds every race.

When he first set out in the professional motorsports world, Tucker was driving in the Ferrari Challenge series and the SCCA, in Grand-Ams and Ferraris. But he always had his eye on the Le Mans Prototypes series, the ALMS and the ILMC, cars built for speed and racing. With his goal set to make an appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, Tucker began the physical regimen that would be the foundation for a successful Le Mans debut in 2010. Tucker woke up at 4:30 a.m., before the sun, to put in an hour of cardiovascular exercise followed by core and flexibility workouts with a trainer. During any given race, a driver might face elevation changes, quick right and left turns and bumpy tracks, as well as the challenge of maneuvering among and around other drivers on the track. Diet and sleep regimens are also key to fitness, but none of these elements come easy. Most recently, at Petit Le Mans, Tucker and his team had just received a brand new car that they’d never tested before. They had the testing/qualifying week prior to Petit to orient themselves with the car, make adjustments for driver accommodation, and deliver quality qualifying performances. The entire team was on the track until 2 a.m. several nights that week.

At the 2010 Le Mans appearance, Tucker proved himself with an impressive qualifying time, but ultimately the team’s car crashed and didn’t finish the race. Tucker has spent the year-and-a-half since the 2010 Le Mans making very few mistakes on the race track and improving upon the quality of his performances.

Most recently clinching the LMP2 drivers championship along with co-driver Christophe Bouchut, Tucker joins his team aiming for an ILMC vice championship in races in Italy and Zhuhai, China. By keeping in top physical shape and maintaining unbelievable amounts of focus and discipline, Scott Tucker has worked his way to the top of elite motorsports. With 2011 all but in the rearview, eyes are on the 2012 season. If it goes as well or better than the past year, Tucker will likely not be surprised. It’s what he’s been working for all along.

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