Level 5 Motorsports' Scott Tucker Is One With His Fans
Topics: Scott Tucker
Competitive sports car racing isn't quite the great spectator sport that, say, football is: Flying past a checkered flag at 200 miles per hour doesn't leave much room for a victory dance. But motorsports fans are just as important to drivers as football fans are to wide receivers.
Level 5 Motorsports owner and driver Scott Tucker starts and ends races with his fans. After drivers' meetings at races, before he hits the track, he heads over to sign autographs for fans. "This is where it really starts," he has said. "Having a big fan base coming to watch you gets everybody excited and pumped up."
The truth is, Tucker would still race even if not a single person came out to watch him—which makes him the best kind of professional athlete: a man who genuinely loves the sport. His complete disregard for any of the perks that could come with being as successful as he has been, with a unique story to boot, have a way of drawing people to the sport: What would make an investor from Leawood, Kansas enter the world of professional sports car racing as a 44-year-old rookie? Tucker's story, an anomaly in an industry in which drivers have often been training for decades by the time they hit 44, has caught the attention of the Discovery Channel, which aired the feature film "Daytona Dream," about Tucker and Level 5's 2010 quest and ultimate accomplishment of a podium finish after 24 hours of grueling, continuous competition.
Fans especially in the United States have looked to Tucker also because his is the first Le Mans Prototype entry from the country in 25 years. What made him enter the ALMS? Not a sponsorship or a pay raise or anything other than the fact that he simply wanted to, a move that then begs the question, what's so cool about Le Mans Prototype cars? The answer is, a lot—something Tucker has helped promote to a fan base that is inundated with Nascar, Grand-Am and Ferrari more so than LMP.
In fact, Tucker withdrew from a handful of important races in the 2011 season while he awaited the finishing touches on a brand new, cost-capped Honda vehicle for the team. For Level 5, which was on a breakaway winning season, the car had to be worth surrendering points and podium appearances. For Tucker, it absolutely was. He'd been monitoring updates on the car and decided it was the best model available in the LMP2 class.
"The fans are important to me because ultimately, we feel the same way about competitive sports car racing," Tucker said. "Only, I get to be the one behind the wheel, and if I can share that with them, and they're excited about it too, then that's the best thing."
Not that Tucker is a particularly difficult figure to rally behind. Not only is his story captivating and his passion for the sport undeniable—his record is pretty darn good. He won his second consecutive T1 division national championship at the SCCA runoffs at Road America, and in 2010, he served Ferrari as a test driver as it developed the next generation of supercar, the 599XX. In 2009, Tucker scored a single-season record of 10 victories in the Ferrari Challenge series and won the Ferrari Challenge Dealership Championship for Boardwalk Ferrari. He also won the Sports Car Club of America National Championship in a Ferrari 430.
After working his way through the Ferrari Challenge series and the Grand-Am series, Tucker, along with mentor and co-driver Bouchut, took an opportunity for Le Mans Prototype class competition and in 2010 won the LMP class championship, which bumped them up to the LMP2 class for 2011.
With drivers' championships all but official this year for Tucker and Bouchut, the Level 5 Motorsports team continues to deliver action-packed, podium-worthy performances for its fans. Having stayed mostly out of the limelight, Tucker isn't your typical sports hero, but that's because he's as much a fan of the sport as he is a driver in it.
Brent Arends has been keeping a close eye on Scott Tucker, owner and driver, of Level 5 Motorsports throughout the past year. To get more information about Tucker, check out http://www.motorsport.com/#/all/search/?q=scott%252520tucker
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