|Mount Vernon, Texas|
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|Spec Miata, Teen Mazda Challenge|
|Eastex Motorsports, The Drivers Edge, RPM Motorsports|
|Full-time student, Drivers Edge instructor|
Favorite TV show:
|Not really a movie person. The best I have seen recently, though, is “Django Unchained”|
|“The Art of Racing in The Rain”|
|Circuit of The Americas or Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, Texas.|
|Daytona Prototype, or ALMS BMW Z4. Although I would be more than happy to drive any of them.|
In 2012, Adam Poland had been battling with Alec Udell and Steven Farrell for the Texas Teen Mazda Challenge, and at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, he was one lap away from clinching enough points to win it all. He qualified on pole and was leading for the entire race. He had about a 1.5-second gap over Udell who was in second place when tragedy struck.
“The car was handling great and I was really competitive. But then on the last lap, I was going up the hill after the hairpin at Hallett and I went to shift into third and there was nothing there,” Poland said. “I gave it gas and the car just kept revving and revving. Then I tried taking it out of gear and putting it back in, and it didn’t do anything. So I put it in fourth and by that time three cars had passed me.”
Poland went on to finish fifth, but he missed the next race because he was under the car installing a new transmission. He made the grid for third and fourth races that weekend. Starting from last, he finished third in both races, but by then Alec Udell had won the 2012 Texas Teen Mazda Challenge.
Now 22, Poland is in his last year of eligibility for the Teen Mazda Challenge. At press time, he had clinched not only the Texas Teen Mazda Challenge, but also the regional championship in Spec Miata, which is no small feat in the ultracompetitive Texas region.
“In qualifying, the top 10 are normally separated by .5 or .6 seconds. Then after that, they start to drop off,” Poland said, adding that Texas averages 20 to 25 cars per event. “It just depends on the venue and what the weather is like. Texas World Speedway always has a big turnout. Normally we’ll have upward of 30 cars at those events. On average I would say there is probably 10 teens that show up. The teens are pretty competitive as well. Normally, three or four of them will be in the top 10.”
Poland is now waiting for his invitation to the Mazda Shootout, which pits each of the regional and teen champions against national champions of Mazda-powered cars. He also is working on his business plan, which is the ticket that gets you into the top five for the actual shootout at an undisclosed racetrack.
“Of course it’s a huge deal for me, and I met my goal for the year, which was to win the Teen Mazda Challenge,” Poland said. “Of course we need to prove on ourselves on track, but they focus a little more on the business aspect of racing.”
If he can win, he’ll move up to racing in the MX-5 Playboy Cup series. If he doesn’t win, he might try to race in that series anyway or try to find a seat in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. His driving coach, Tony Rivera, races in the Continental series, so he has made some contacts on that tour, but nothing is firm.
Until then, Poland will continue his studies at the Carroll Shelby Automotive Technology program at Northeast Texas Community College in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. In addition to the regular automotive curriculum, Poland helped his instructors set up a kart course on a skid pad for the board of directors. Poland and his fellow students set up the karts and put them in good working order, then instructed the board members on driving karts, being smooth and hitting their marks.
The effort was part of a push to gain more exposure and funding for the program, which offers four certificates in different areas of specialization, including high performance vehicles.
“At the end of it we had little champagne spray, gave out some trophies we had lying around the school,” he said. “It was a good break from the seriousness normally associated with school.”
The program at the school was backed personally by Carroll Shelby before his death and posthumously today. Shelby was born not far from the college Poland attends and maintained a residence there while he was still alive. The school also has the last car Shelby ever bought, a 1968 GT350.
“It’s really cool that someone so big and so famous is from around this little area, a town with a population of 3,000 or so,” Poland said. “Carroll Shelby is kind of my inspiration for racing. The fact that he came from a small town and made it so high up and had such an impact on so many people. A lot of people can only dream to do the same thing, so I might as well shoot for it.”