Beau Borders is all about making noise — on the racetrack and on the soundstage.
During the week, the Academy Award-nominated Borders is doing sound engineering for some of Hollywood’s biggest films. On the weekends, he is racing a Factory Five Prototype GTM with MyRaceShop.com and Red Panther Motorsport.
It was only natural a Jersey kid who grew up on every track east of Road America would stay connected to auto racing.
“When you’re around racing, you’re around a lot of pretty wild personalities, big egos, and a lot of money at stake,” Borders said. “And then you roll into the film industry and it’s full of wild personalities, big egos and a lot of money at stake. There are some major parallels and it kind of cracks me up when I go, ‘I feel like I’m at the racetrack, but I’m in a movie studio.’”
Borders’ childhood has the makings of a Hollywood script. As Borders describes it, he grew up in a family where his father Bob was obsessed with racing, converting a barn into a race shop at their New Jersey home. The family had “scrappy mechanics living with us and co-raising” him, and Borders recalls a colorful character known as “Toxic Bob,” who accidentally welded his finger to a car. The team’s race budget was so tight they would often forgo basic safety equipment.
“I remember going into school and everybody going, ‘What’s wrong with your face’ and I realized that we were welding all weekend and we didn’t have a welding helmet,” Borders said. “(Toxic Bob) said, “Just squint real hard,’ and I had these little white lines in the corners of my eyes from getting sunburned from welding.”
After spending years working as a commodities broker on Wall Street, Bob Borders moved the family to Florida when Beau was a teenager. It wasn’t until Beau was a young adult that he realized the family moved so his father could be closer to the country’s top tracks and year-round racing.
Because Beau was often too young to be in the pits, the team had to sneak him in the front seat of the racecar while wearing a helmet. The team eventually found a loophole, naming Beau the crew chief at age 14, and was one of youngest crew chiefs in IMSA’s history.
Beau’s father told him to get a job if he wanted to race, and following that advice, Beau took a two-month internship with George Lucas’ famed Skywalker Sound at age 18. Beau parlayed his sound engineer/mixing career to two Academy Award nominations and worked on the biggest hits including “Titanic,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Iron Man” sequels.
The younger Borders said his early success allowed him to put himself through Skip Barber Racing School at age 20 and to race against his father.
“To me, nothing is cooler than racing with your dad,” said Beau, who kept a racecar on the East Coast. “I never knew how long my window would be to where I’d be able to do that. I’m really glad we were able to race togetherin the past. I look forward to doing it again in the near future.”
Since 2015, Borders has been racing a Factory Five GTM for Richard and Yvonne Migliori in various series, including NASA Western Endurance Racing Challenge, US Touring Car Championship, Trans Am and the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Because of a demanding work schedule, racing with the car’s new owner Mike Holland of MyRaceShop.com and Red Panther Motorsport allows Borders to show up and drive. In the film studio, Borders utilizes any free moment he has to study race data and onboard video of the next event. After work, he can be found practicing with the team on a virtual reality sim rig before heading to the track.
Dave Brown, who has been racing with Borders since 2013, said his friend always maintains a cool demeanor in stressful conditions.
“(Beau)’s been around racing since he was a kid and his father was a high-level racer in IMSA back in the day,” Brown said. “For him to go to the Daytona Speedway is like going to the park for the rest of us. It’s an atmosphere he’s very comfortable in.”
Borders’ racing resume includes plenty of wins and podiums in the pro and club racing ranks as well as the USTCC’s Top Rookie Award in 2014 and Series Champion in 2015, a NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship in 2018 as well as Driver of the Year with another group. Borders tries to race at least once a month, but when it comes to making a major motion picture, there are rarely weekends off. His commitment to a film is a minimum of two months, but more frequently it’s an eight-month commitment.
“You have to remember that by the time I’m sitting with the director, they’ve been on the movie for probably a couple of years. They’re out of time, they’re out of money and probably fighting with the studio,” Borders said. “Sound is really the last creative thing that they can do to their movie to create tension or excitement or horror or whatever emotion they’re going for.”
Because Borders makes his living with his ears, he takes his hearing seriously and it’s something anyone who has been to the track can learn from. The 44-year-old keeps a pair of earplugs in his pocket, wearing them at restaurants, on the track or even while walking on the streets in Venice, Calif., where he lives with his girlfriend Emma Patterson. In the racecar, he wears ear plugs with over ear radios to guard his hearing.
“You get ear fatigue, so if you can imagine listening to a machine gun battle for 12 solid hours and then getting off work and going to a crowded restaurant, your brain just shuts down, your ears don’t want to listen anymore,’ Borders said. “I’m terrified of just somebody firing up a four-rotor Mazda engine right next to me, winding up to 12,000 rpm. That’ll blow your eardrums out.”
Friends say whether Borders is at work or at the track, his optimistic personality doesn’t change. Maybe that comes from years at the track or working in an industry where the stakes are much higher.
“I’ve never seen Beau angry at the racetrack, even when the car’s not working. He’s never mad,” Brown said. “It’s that classic saying, another day at the racetrack is worth 50 at work. That’s reflected in his attitude all the time—he’s always happy.”
|Hometown:||Venice Beach, CA|
|Racing Class:||GT in USTCC, ES in WERC|
|Sponsors:||Hankook, MyRaceShop.com, @BordersRacing|
|Day Job:||Sound Mixer for Film and TV|
|Favorite Food:||Italian, preferably in Italy|
|Favorite TV show:||The upcoming “Lord of the Rings” from Amazon|
|Favorite Movie:||The upcoming “Morbius” from Marvel|
|Favorite Book:||“Driving Forces”|
|Favorite Track:||Sebring. My dad and I raced there, and my grandpa learned to fly bombers there in World War II|
|Dream Racecar:||Whatever I’m currently driving. In this case, the Factory Five GTM|