Paul Holton has been a busy guy this season, driving in two different series. As a relative new comer to racing, he drove in the Pirelli World Challenge last season for Shea Racing. I had the privilege of getting to know Paul last year, as he wrote for Open Wheels. Paul took some time to sit down and tell us what he’s been up to this year.
You’ve been a busy guy racing full-time in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and part-time in the Pirelli World Challenge. What have been some highlights so far, what are some differences between the two series and what goals do you have to finish the season off?
“2015 has been a busy season so far for me but will only get busier from this point forward going into 2016. Right now my full-time commitment is to developing the new Audi S3’s in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge with the Pirelli World Challenge events being sprinkled on top as a bonus. The two series require a somewhat different approach from me as a driver; in the CTSC my job is to make laps and conserve the car. If I’m able to run up front and do that then I will, but the main goal is to hand Kyle Gimple, my co-driver, a solid car to work with. In PWC it’s more about getting to the front and staying there; it’s all about outright speed.
This season is a development season in CTSC for the Audi S3 so we’ll be doing plenty of testing with those cars and I’ll be back in WC starting at Sonoma in August in a car I can’t quite talk about yet. My single biggest goal for this season is to get the S3’s developed into a championship-winning race car for Kyle and me to attack 2016 with.
So far this season I’ve had a few highlights in both the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Pirelli World Challenge.
-Qualifying tenth for Daytona, while it may not sound great, was pretty awesome. It was nearly all Caymans in front of me so it was quite a feat. Kyle Gimple and I would finish P7.
-Winning in the TCA Honda Civic Si at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was a great feeling.
-Honestly my favorite moment so far has been the most recent one, at Watkins Glen I drove from P15 to P3 in the rain, with the leaders in reach at the end of my stint. One of the best outright drives I’ve had in terms of execution, precision, consistency, and minimization of mistakes.”
You haven’t been a race car driver very long, compared to other drivers. Explain how that has helped you and if that has hurt you at all.
“I’ve only been in this for a few years and I had no go karting background as a kid to lean on so I’ve had one of the steepest learning curves of any driver I know. Thankfully I am a pretty quick learner and have been able to capitalize on that. I generally try to approach everything with the attitude that I don’t know anything, even though that’s not at all how I try to portray it. Now as I get more and more experienced, that attitude isn’t as prevalent, but it is still the foundation for how I approach an event. I try to learn something every time that I’m on track, and if I don’t then that session wasn’t a success.
I drive anything I can get my hands on. It doesn’t matter what it is because if I’ve never driven it before then I’m guaranteed to learn something.”
What is your favorite car that you have driven? What car would you like to drive at some point before your racing career is over?
“I have a hard time choosing an outright favorite car that I’ve driven. At the moment I have to say it’s been the Honda Civic Si because of how much that car has taught me, in both configurations I’ve driven. The ST Civic and TCA Civic are interestingly different beasts. I will probably have a new favorite soon though as I start testing some new cars. I would really love to drive some P2 or P1 cars for a manufacturer. My goal is to be a factory driver; that’s the end goal for me.”
What do you do to relax on race weekends when you are not in the car?
“Race weekends are pretty busy, especially in CTSC right now because we spend a lot of time talking about and working on the S3’s. I always bring my Eno Hammock and if I get a chance I like to spend some time lying around in it. Other than that it’s always fun walking around and talking to my friends and other drivers in the paddock.”
What is something that fans do not know about you that you’d like to share?
“All my life I’ve been a very competitive soccer player; I only stopped playing in the last year. I love the team atmosphere that came with soccer, and while it might not look like a viable place for it, I’ve found that same thing in racing.”
What do you enjoy doing outside of racing?
“When I was younger I would go whitewater kayaking in the summer, and I’ve just now gotten back into it. Iabsolutely love playboating and running whitewater as well as casual paddling. Another thing I really like is videography, as you can see from some of the videos I produce after race weekends. Spending time with friends is always great, too.”
What training do you to prepare yourself for racing?
“My training for a race weekend consists of a lot of mental preparation. Watching videos, spending time on the simulator, and looking at data are some of the ways I spend preparing for a race weekend. I try not to spend too much time on the simulator though because I don’t feel it is necessary for anything other than simply learning the layout of a track.”
Thank you Paul for taking the time to let us catch up on what is going in your racing career.