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|Oak Leaf , Texas|
|Spec Iron, CMC and Mazda MX-5 Cup|
|Winding Road Racing, Harris Hill Road, Foodcoaching.com, Cultivate Leadership|
|Anything from Better Bites Bakery and farm fresh veggies|
Favorite TV show:
|“House of Cards”|
|“The Italian Job”|
|Harris Hill Road, San Marcos Texas|
|SKYACTIV-powered Mazda LMP2 Prototype|
Since childhood, Corey Rueth has been obsessed with racing cars. His parents never could agree on a motorsport that would ease their safety concerns, so Rueth was left to racing the riding mower on a course he cut into the family yard in Oak Leaf, Texas, or borrowing his older brother’s dirt bike when mom wasn’t paying attention.
When the 38-year-old Rueth slips behind the wheel of a Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Car this year to race professionally, it will be a childhood dream come true.
“I really had an unusual path getting to pro racing,” Rueth said. “I think the nature of that path gave me a little more perseverance. I was willing to do anything to get into that driver’s seat.”
Rueth not only will drive a Global MX-5 Cup Car, but also serve as the director of driver development for the racing program launched by Winding Road Racing in Austin, Texas — and still somehow find the time to race with NASA. It’s a challenge that excites Rueth, who lives in Austin and is a corporate airline pilot.
Fellow racers say Rueth is a natural to lead the program, with his outgoing personality and his continual quest for self-improvement.
“I run into so many folks that are innately fast drivers, but they hit a wall because of their ego,” said Paul Costas, Rueth’s coach and mentor. “Corey is the antithesis of that. His attitude is, ‘I can learn something from everybody in the paddock’ and he does.”
That attitude was on full display when Rueth competed in the inaugural Mazda Race of NASA Champions last May, where he narrowly lost to Grand Champion Matt Powers. Rueth earned the trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a dominating season in 2014 and winning the Eastern States Championships in Spec Iron.
“We were literally in the paddock sharing data during that (race) to help each other go faster,” he said. “For a lot of us, that was our first pro race weekend and we needed all the support we could get. We were there for each other as NASA brethren first. I’ll never forget that.”
It’s that approach that Rueth is aiming for when building the Global MX-5 Cup program for Winding Road Racing.
Rueth plans a holistic approach to help the team’s drivers physically and mentally. Rueth’s wife, Lisa, is a corporate coach who works with CEOs and executives at Fortune 500 companies, but they also run a food coaching business. Proper nutrition will be one aspect of the program that Rueth is in the midst of creating from scratch.
“Don’t even bring up diet or nutrition with him unless you’ve got 20 minutes,” said Tom Martin, CEO of Winding Road, with a laugh. “It’s not just a line. He really believes what he’s talking about. He wants to help other people improve whether it’s nutrition or being a better racer.”
Rueth started racing cars as a teenager and admitted, “I had a lot of traffic tickets as a kid.” While studying to become a pilot at Texas State Technical School in Waco, Rueth said he was doing donuts in a parking lot when he was approached by someone who told him about autocross events at a nearby university.
“I autocrossed everything from a Ford SHO Taurus to my Mustang,” he said. “I had all these different things I tried and had a blast doing it.”
After graduating from college, Rueth went to work as an instructor at a flight school but continued to race. Using a flight simulator to teach the students, Rueth realized he could use the same technology to improve his track skills.
“It was a very natural transition for me to start using driving simulators,” Rueth said, adding, “I attribute a lot of my success in 2014 to simulators. I had never been to Road Atlanta and everything I learned was from the simulator. I got up to speed a hundred times faster because of it.”
Being a corporate pilot for a longtime Texas family in the oil and gas industry has its perks. When Rueth gets his client to their destination, he can pursue his other passion of paragliding. It was a sport he chose because the equipment fits in a 50-pound pack and is ideal for some of the locations (think mountains) he flies the family to for business or vacations.
“It’s one of those sports where there is no room for error. It really challenges me as a person,” he said. “There’s nothing better than flying above a mountain range or flying above the ocean with a non-powered aircraft. Flying like the birds with the wind in your hair at 15 to 30 mph, there’s nothing better.”
Another perk of the job is lots of down time, which is why Rueth is developing the racing program for Winding Road. He met Martin at Harris Hill Road, a private member track in San Marcos, Texas, where they developed the concept. The goal is to have at least five drivers on the team at each of the six race stops.
“We can coach them on their health … we can teach them how to knock down all the mental barriers that are involved with auto racing, especially pro racing,” Rueth said. “And then we can teach them all the things they need to go faster. We found the only way to be truly successful at the highest level of motorsports is to have all of those elements present in a development program.”
Rueth’s driving coach and mentor says he wouldn’t bet against Rueth developing a successful driver program and growing personally as a driver.
“I know his ability is at a pro level,” Costas said. “I think the neat thing is how fast he can develop the chassis racing, where everyone else across the country is trying to do the exact same thing. I’ll put Corey’s dedication and determination against anyone.”