Oct 13

Going to Indy: Corey Lewis Reminded of Roots

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., 2021
Going to Indy: Corey Lewis Reminded of Roots

No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO chases one-two K-PAX Racing finish in championship

It was just supposed to be a weekend hobby. But for Corey Lewis, who helped K-PAX Racing to its fourth Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS Team Championship in 2021, his vision transcended beyond his wildest dreams. Lewis has 23 proven years in racing ranging from the amateur ranks to a professional status as one of sports car racing’s elite.

Lewis grew up as a typical, wide-eyed kid in an atypical family trade – from playing around the neighborhood emulating and tagging along with his older brother to helping his family raise 50-60 alpaca to show across the nation. Sheering alpacas and helping around the barn proved to be a chore in a family hobby that stemmed from an airplane magazine you would find in the seat-back pocket of the vessel. But another, more familiar curiosity caught Lewis’s attention – with the help from a neighbor and household name across the racing community.

Lewis grew up in Nazareth, Penn., the hometown of the legendary Andretti family. While Lewis had many different interests as a youngster, it was impossible not to notice the presence of the town’s most famous family and the importance of Indianapolis. He will co-drive the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO in “The Racing Capital of the World,” as the Intercontinental GT World Challenge Powered by Pirelli brings a record-setting field October 15-17 to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for eight hours of action.

The legendary Midwestern gem, alternatively known as “The Brickyard,” has been the site of some of racing’s most memorable moments and has made heroes of some while breaking the hearts of others. The Andretti family has experienced both ends of the spectrum, and Lewis quickly learned how special of a place it is from the buzz around town. Lewis gained an appreciation of speed that would surpass his days of using quads and bikes on the family farm.

But it was not until Marco Andretti’s first go-kart race in Flemington, N.J. that Lewis started to consider the possibility of hopping in one himself. He was “bit by the bug” watching Marco, and within a few months, his parents surprised him in the garage. For seven-year-old Lewis, it was an unforgettable moment seeing a kart of his own – a red and yellow bodied kart with a black nose, and the same chassis and motor combination as Marco. The first time Lewis experienced the thrill of racing was at Oakland Valley Race Park in Cuddebackville, N.Y. His on-track success brought him back to the course and others as he steadily improved his skills.

“It wasn’t every weekend when we first started, but as we started to progress and get results, we became more consistent and successful,” said Lewis, who continued competing even after his brother. “It was something I remember talking to my parents about at the dinner table after my first year, like ‘Hey, we’re doing pretty good. Maybe it’s something we could turn into a more regular basis.’ ”

One fond memory Lewis had in his early stages was heading to a local parking lot in town with his dad, setting up cones to learn all the basics of his kart. Lewis honed his fundamentals under the guidance and motivation from his family and the Andretti’s, being crowned the Stars of Karting Regional Champion in 2002, and second two years later in the World Karting Association National Series. Marco, Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti recommended to Lewis that he progress into open-wheel at the Skip Barber Racing School, where he continued his path to racing stardom.

“I’ll never forget it: I got a hand-me-down care package from one of Marco’s rookie years in IndyCar, and he gave me a bunch of old Nomex, shoes and gloves and an old racing suit to wear because I didn’t have anything,” Lewis said. “I still have it, and that’s something I’ll save. It’s always a cool piece to look back on with all the other memorable suits I’ve obtained over the years – up-front and center.”

While Lewis continued to find his footing in racing, there were times he was challenged. In those times, he was seeking advice not only from Marco – who emphasized “embracing the bad, enjoying the good but always moving forward” – but also from his driving coach at Skip Barber, Grant Maiman. He kept a level head and kept pushing.

“Growing up, you find yourself trying to download information from anybody,” Lewis said. “When you have the Andretti family, you’d be silly not to listen. I remember when I was progressing through my open-wheel career, I had a driving coach Grant Maiman. I’ll never forget the times we worked together, and how much I progressed working with him. We worked on racecraft and the mental aspect of things, and to me, that hit home.”

“We’d play stick-and-ball sports and my dad was an awesome coach that always stood by [my brother and I]. His knowledge of the game was so insightful and no matter what he said, I’d do – if he told me to run to this point, I would. Fast-forward: Having the Andretti family there, you do exactly what they say. You progress forward and meet Grant, whose experience and tricks he’d play – you download that. Like any good coach, he pushes you to a level you couldn’t even imagine. They understand your ability and try to make you better.”

Lewis ultimately took his skills into the sports car world, and in 2014, earned his first victory in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Indianapolis. He would go on to play an integral part with Lamborghini, winning the 2015 Lamborghini Super Trofeo PRO-AM World Championship and becoming one of the most successful drivers in series history. Now, Lewis gives back as a development driver for some of Lamborghini’s rising stars in Super Trofeo.

“I’ve had a lot of time in Super Trofeo – won a lot of races and championships – and now I’m the teacher, right?” said Lewis, connecting the dots full-circle. “I think it’s really cool that I can teach what I know about these cars and about racing to give back to kids who are aspiring to do what I did to get here today. To give it back is something special and it’s invaluable. Whether it’s a future driver in the sport or a fan – I was there. I was that kid walking with my family around the paddock, and I always gravitated toward the guys that were open and friendly. I want to be that guy who’s open. It comes full circle – it’s everything.”

Lewis joined K-PAX Racing in its transition to Lamborghini in the 2021 season, helping guide the multi-championship winning team with his knowledge and experience of the Huracán GT3 EVO. Lewis teamed up with Giovanni Venturini for the GT World Challenge America season, where they will battle for runner-up in the points championship with help from fellow Lamborghini driver Marco Mapelli.

“Corey has a lot of experience here in America, so during the season, I learned a lot from him about the tracks – and faster,” Venturini said. “He also has a lot of experience with the car, and it’s helped us create a competitive package for each race. I think we have achieved great results this season, and I’m excited to see what happens in Indy.”

The driver pairing of Lewis and Venturini proved to be successful throughout the season, as it collected nine podiums, including one victory in 12 rounds. Their season-long performance helped K-PAX Racing to its fourth team championship since 2016, and also added to Lamborghini’s clinch of a manufacturers’ title in the series.

“Corey is a very big asset to our program,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “I’ve known Corey for several years, and I’ve admired what he’s done. It was valuable to have him here when we started the switch from our previous manufacturer to Lamborghini, because Corey knows the car and has driven all the tracks stateside. He was instrumental in providing us with quick feedback, and he’s been helpful to the other drivers as well that haven’t driven most of these tracks. He has offered a great starting point for everybody.”

While Lewis prepares for one of the biggest races of the season, he still retraces his roots back to Nazareth. It is where his love for motorsports started, surrounded by the foundational pieces that helped jump-start his success seen more than two decades later – and counting. Usually, as the leaves start to fall, the racing season winds down. But when the snow hits the ground, there is one more race Lewis must prepare for when he comes home – at “The Ice Oval.”

“Marco has a circular driveway – a nice little oval we called ‘The Ice Oval,’ ” Lewis said. “He purposely doesn’t plow it and we’ll race anything from quads to go-karts – anything we can get our hands on. The competitive nature between all us drivers in town, you sometimes work yourself harder than what you would at an actual racetrack. You’re bumping fenders and just laughing. Some of those moments are just hard to describe.”

“Looking back to see how far we’ve come from growing up on an alpaca farm to now competing professionally with the top team in the paddock, K-PAX Racing, and racing for Lamborghini – mainly stateside but we’ve done the overseas and have seen success. Like how? How the heck did we get here? My dad and I are both sentimental people and we sit back at times after race weekends – good or bad – and are just thankful that we’re ‘in the show.’ It’s wild to know how far we’ve come, but also know that I have goals and dreams I’m still chasing. I don’t take this for granted, and every time I’m in the car, it’s my absolute best.”

 

About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 169 podiums, 69 wins, four Driver Championships and three Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class, K-PAX Racing has fielded Porsche 911 GT3s during the 2007 – 2008 seasons, Volvo S60s during the 2009 – 2013 seasons, McLaren 12C GT3s in 2014 and McLaren 650S GT3s from 2015 – 2017. The team made a switch to Bentley for 2018, fielding the first-generation Continental GT3 in its first season and the second-generation model in 2019 and 2020. K-PAX Racing will debut the 2021 season in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.

About Lamborghini Squadra Corse

Squadra Corse is the motorsport department of Automobili Lamborghini. Born in 2013 within the Research & Development department, Squadra Corse provides an integrated approach to driving experiences of the brand; from driving course programs with road vehicles to motorsport competitions, through the Lamborghini Super Trofeo or championships of the GT class.

Esperienza is the first step for those who are interested in the world of Lamborghini: Its aim is to share the thrill and emotions of the super sports cars from Sant’Agata Bolognese with fans and potential customers alike, by advanced driving course programs. Esperienza Dinamica is divided into five programs in order to face every type of surface: Corsa, Neve, Sabbia, Strada, Terra. Esperienza Accademia is the program dedicated to advanced drivers, offering driving course programs not only on the racetrack but also on ice in order to improve the driving skills of the pilots.

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo is an international motor racing series with drivers competing in identical Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVOs, the racing version of the production model, that features the same 5.2 l naturally aspirated V10 engine. Inaugurated in 2009, Super Trofeo hosts regional championships in Europe, Asia and North America and is divided in four categories: Pro, Pro-Am, Am and Lamborghini Cup bringing together passionate gentleman drivers and young professional pilots. At the end of each season, the teams and drivers of all regions compete against each other in the World Finals, the highlight of the season.

The most challenging tests are those which see Lamborghini’s Customer Racing Teams competing in the principal international GT championships driving the Huracán GT3. The GT3 differs from the Huracán Super Trofeo EVO through its more sophisticated aerodynamics, kinematic suspension control and other technical specifications respecting official FIA regulations. In 2017 the Huracán GT3 won the Blancpain GT Series; in 2018 and 2019 the Huracán GT3 completed a double victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in GTD Class. Lamborghini is the only company in the world to win both of the prestigious races, that are also known as 36 Hours of Florida, in two consecutive years. Another premiere in 2019: The GT3 won the Triple Crown of the Blancpain GT Series with the titles in the categories Overall, Endurance and Sprint. In 2020 Lamborghini celebrated third victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona with sensational one-two finish.

Both the Huracán Super Trofeo and the Huracán GT3 are constructed and built at the plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese on the same production line as the road vehicles. Specialized technicians of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse are present at every station along the line.

Moreover, Lamborghini Squadra Corse is trying to develop new talents in motor sports, for example through the Young Drivers Program (open for drivers under 26 that will compete in the Super Trofeo championship) and the GT3 Junior Program (for future GT drivers). Both the programs aim to offer young drivers the possibility to improve their driving skills helping them to take a career as professional pilots.

In 2018 Squadra Corse inaugurated its first One-Off, the SC18 Alston, followed by open-top SC20 in 2020. In the same year Squadra Corse unveiled Essenza SCV12 the track-only hypercar in a limited edition of 40 units, fitted with the most powerful V12 naturally aspirated engine ever developed by Lamborghini: over 830 hp.



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