The Racing Journal is a blog of Motorsport stories told by our founder Davide De Russis about particular episodes and what's behind a race week end. Today we would like to tell you how A Cup of Racing is born in 2020, giving a presentation of the storyteller.
It all started in 2009. Perhaps in 1992, when I was born. But first let me introduce myself: I'm Davide De Russis, Founder and Race Engineer of A Cup of Racing. With The Racing Journal, I will tell yo everything that is not the tip of the iceberg seen on a Sunday afternoon at the tracks around the world. I will try to convey the emotions related to the smell of high octane petrol and what it feels like to be "the voice in the driver's ears".
But how do you become a Race Engineer? With 4 main attributes: passion, commitment, effort, and making a lot of mistakes, but always learning something.
I've always had a deep passion for Motorsport. As I said, it all started in 1992: 29 years ago, I was born and since childhood on every Sunday afternoon I looked forward to seeing Formula One and anything that had wheels and engines that were broadcast on TV. I grew up like this, bread and Motorsport. Initially, like all children, I wanted to be a racing driver. Then, growing up, I was more and more passionate about two important questions: “how racing cars are made?” and “what can I do to make them go faster?”. All this blossomed during my teenage life period, when, after school, the afternoon were spent fixing my motorbike, tuning it to improve the performance. During summer working as a mechanic with a family friend who owned and still owns an authorised Ford garage near my home were the reason for reaching the end of the school year. Because, yes, the desire to study was minimal when I went to school. Things have changed when deciding what to do next. I was in the third year of scientific high school, things were going very badly because there was no idea about studying and the hours spent traveling around on a motorcycle were always longer than my study time. In this way, I realised that if I wanted to use my passion and do that hobby I've always had as a job, which was improving the performance of wheeled vehicles and engines, I had to commit more. There was "to get under". Not sufficient marks subjects completely recovered at the end of the year and the last two years of high school where studying was no longer something to do in your free time, but the main job of the day. All this to enrol at the University, in that faculty I passed in front of every time I went, with my parents, to visit my brother who had moved to Turin to study Computer Engineering. Faculty with limited places per year, just 75 places: Automotive Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino.
Admission test that is not as good as I expected (I certainly could have prepared myself better), I deny myself access to the faculty. However, I enter my second choice (Mechanical Engineering), knowing that in order to try to move to Automotive Engineering the following year I would need to have a certain number of university credits acquired at the end of the year. New city, new life, new goal, it seemed. The following year I moved (this time passing the admission test) to Automotive Engineering and entered the SquadraCorse of the Politecnico di Torino which designs from a "blank sheet", builds, and runs a single-seater in Formula Student. Imagine yourself, the choice on how to spend the time between designing a real racing car and studying for exams of the first years of engineering, which are not exciting, on what it fell on. I lose the year to work in Formula Student. I learnt more than what the university has taught me in just a few months of true Motorsport, even if at a student level. I was beginning to understand that the university it serves to have the famous "piece of paper" that qualifies you as an engineer, but that only with the study I would never have had the opportunity to put myself in the position of Track Engineer I have always dreamed of. So, while I try to recover the exams, I left Formula Student and I started looking for specialized courses in Race Engineering that give me a real working imprint in a non-student motorsport environment, allowing me to put into practice what I have learnt at university up to that moment. I found a company in Milan which was in charge of Race Engineering, technically supporting several teams of different categories around Europe and the world. I followed a specialised practical course in Race Engineering with them and I managed to get an internship. This gave me the opportunity to start to travel to work in Motorsport as a support for the company's most experienced track engineers. I followed tests and races in Lotus Cup Italia 2017, in the CTCC 2017 in China, and I try to make my contribution from home for the 2017 BTCC races. The experience I acquired during the year is limitless. I learnt a lot about how to develop a racing car, what characteristics the different categories of cars have and how to use them to optimise performances. I also learnt that, at times, communication and team building are the biggest problem to overcome in order to achieve the desired result. But, above all, that understanding what mistakes have been made, why certain things have happened and how to analyze a race weekend to avoid the same mistakes is the best way to improve always and in any case. From that moment on, I understood this is an approach I can apply to many things, even outside Motorsport. It can be a way of life and I decided to adopt it.
I graduated in Automotive Engineering in 2017, after completing the various championships. It was time to decide what job I wanted to do for a living. Although the past year at the track has trained me and remained inside me, I decided that I cannot work in Motorsport without first trying other job positions. I found a 6-month internship as a Mechanical Designer in a small company in the Canavese area which designed one-off show cars. I worked as a designer more than anything else, but that makes me learnt how to professionally use design softwares and, above all, that I'm not made to spend eigh hours behind a PC designing components . After the three months of internship, I definitively decided that Motorsport is the area in which I want to work. Unfortunately, in Italy, with just a Bachelor's Degree you are not sufficiently qualified to work in the right places. It was time to emigrate.
I completed the application process for an Oxford university, Oxford Brookes University, which holds a Master's Degree in Motorsport Engineering. Among the courses, a lot of aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics, and race engineering. Lots of practical engineering and lots of connections with Formula One teams that are all based in that part of England, where Oxford is the centre, The Motorsport Valley. Unexpectedly, they admitted me. It was September 2018 when I said goodbye to Italy and moved to England. To date, one of the best choices I have ever made. I have sacrificed a lot over the past 3 years, but what I gained as experience in my job and for what concern people I have around me since living in the UK, they make up for in a big way. I finish the Master's Degree course in Motorsport Engineering at Oxford Brookes University in the twelve months scheduled and even before I graduated, the interviews in Formula One and beyond began. Eventually, M-Sport hired me as a Junior Race Engineer for their Bentley GT3 project. Certainly, less famous than the Ford WRC project, but still a high-level company in Motorsport from which I can learn at very high levels. Exactly what I was looking for. So far so good, but a global pandemic arrived. It is in fact March 2020 when I officially started working for M-Sport in the Bentley Factory Team. Time for a test at Paul Ricard for the World GT Challenge 2020 and Covid-19 made me lose the job I tried to have for years. After a month.
In a period of stop for everybody, where sport and tourism have been negatively affected maybe more than other sectors, try to be a Race Engineer with all that goes with it in terms of travel and life in a sporting environment was quite difficult. So, from home I started to get more interested in that part of Motorsport that has always been there, but which, before Covid-19, nobody had never really been considered as a real part of Motorsport: Sim Racing. I worked for an Italian Sim Racing team, giving technical support on setup, driving coaching, and performance management. In this way, I got the idea: it was nothing different from what a Race Engineer normally does in the real world, although the approach is different. The feedback from the team members was great, the performances improved and we all learnt something, session after session. Thus, A Cup of Racing was born, with the idea of creating a place where Motorsport and Sim Racing can technically co-exist. An amateur or professional team, as well as the single individual passionate about Sim Racing, can have the technical support of a race engineer who has worked on real tracks, with real teams and drivers over the years. The experience is unique, especially if thought the other way around: A Cup of Racing can be the point of contact that never existed between real motorsport and Sim Racing. 2020 ends with good results in Sim Racing and victory as a Team and Second Place in the Trophy category of the 2020 ADAC GT4, with me as Race Engineer responsible for a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Excellent conditions for starting 2021 which are confirmed with Sim Racing where, supported by A Cup of Racing, a partner team dominates the Split 2 GTE Class of the 12h of Sebring 2021 on iRacing until an accident two hours from the end put us out from the race when the gap from P2 was one lap and a half. For real Motorsport, it took a little longer to get some confirmation from the work carried out from 2020, but in the end I have become the main Race Engineer for a Scandinavian team, racing in GT4 Scandinavia with a BMW M4 GT4. No pre-season tests, no idea of how the team is structured, nor what the level of the drivers is. After the first race we were first in the PRO-AM championship for both teams and drivers with a victory in Race 1 and a third place in Race 2. But we will be able to tell about this later. The focus now is on keep fighting from the leadership of the PRO-AM GT4 Scandinavia championship. Furthermore, 2021 represents my first experience with Formula 4 as a Race Engineer, as A Cup of Racing will be at Paul Ricard in late October for the 2021 FIA Formula 4 Motorsport Games.
This is who I am, what I do for living and how I got to where I am today. So much to learn more and to be achieved in the coming years, but you can read it following The Racing Journal episode after episode, anecdote after anecdote, to discover together what is behind a winning or losing race weekend.
For the rest, as it has always been in this amazing world which is Motorsport ...
… KEEP PUSHING!!!
Davide De Russis