Meet the Driver – Ryan Lewis!
Hi I’m Ryan. And I’m driving for Era Motorsport at the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, which is pretty cool.
So, a bit about me. I’m a racing driver, but sometimes I’m a driver coach, or a driving instructor for car manufacturers. Sometimes I’m even a car journalist. But at all times I am a husband to my wife Sara, and father to two cats and one of the worlds cutest dogs. My wife and I also share our yard with six fancy looking chickens. They give us eggs in exchange for room and board. It’s a pretty good deal.
I started racing cars in 1998. I wanted to go kart racing way before that, but my Dad decided it was too dangerous, or maybe he didn’t feel like standing around at kart track, changing sprockets and drinking bad tea. In the meantime I got my racing fix at the local indoor go karting track and countless hours playing Microprose Grand Prix 2 on our state-of-the-art HP 486 pc with SVGA graphics card.
My first ever car race was in the “T-Car’s” young driver series at a very, very wet Castle Coombe circuit in the south west of England. My father’s aversion to karting due to safety concerns was quickly rewarded when he witnessed me aqua plane off the track at the final corner and auger into the tire wall at 70mph. And so, at the tender age of 13, my long and tumultuous relationship with tire walls began.
Between then and now I have been incredibly fortunate to race a lot of really fast cars, against some of the best drivers in the world. From winning the Formula Palmer Audi Championship back in 2003, all the way to my first year in the American Le Mans Series in 2008. Driving a Lola LMP1 car against the dominant Audi R10. In 2010 I drove for PR1 Motorsport in the brand new LMPC category, and won the 2011 Petit Le Mans with them. I would spend the next eight years jumping in various LMPC cars, sports cars, and vintage cars, and coaching other drivers racing in series under the IMSA umbrella. Fortunately I saw far fewer tire walls than in the first 5 years of my racing career.
So it’s 2020 and once more I find myself with the chance to drive one of the fastest cars in the world, against some of the best drivers, at one of the most historic endurance races in motorsport. I have to admit it did not really seem real until this past weekend, when I was actually sat in the lane at Daytona, cinching down on my belts as the cockpit door got closed shut.
Racing is never really about one person. It is often portrayed that way, but it is the culmination of the efforts of a large group of people. And the weight of responsibility to represent those efforts can be one of the more terrifying things about being a racing driver. Because once you pull first gear and get the wave to go, you’re the one that is responsible for all of the blood, sweat and tears that has been invested in getting that car there in the first place. It is not something I take lightly.
After our performance at the Roar Before the 24, I can admit that a great deal of that anxiety has been relieved. For a program that has come together in such a short period of time I am supremely confident in our chances. This is all due to the group of people that have been brought together in this team. January 26th cannot come soon enough.