Name:

Eric Wong

Age:

36

Region:

Mid-Atlantic

Hometown:

Silver Spring, Md.

Racing Class:

GTS3

Sponsors:

BrakeSwap.com, Bimmerworld, MCS, Epic Motorsports, Diffs Online, Detailers Domain, Givens Collision

Day Job:

Patent examiner

Favorite Food:

Mexican

Favorite TV show:

whatever’s on the DVR

Favorite Movie:

“Terminator”

Favorite Book:

Speed News

Favorite Track:

Watkins Glen

Dream Racecar:

Porsche Cup Car
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NASA Mid-Atlantic’s German Touring Series leader Eric Wong is the kind of guy who likes to travel to other NASA regions to get a taste of different tracks and to meet GTS drivers from outside the Mid-Atlantic region. He will often add the new racers he’s met to his list of Facebook friends — then proceed to smack-talk them when he’s about to come and race in their region.

“It’s always fun going out to a new region and meeting new people and racing the top guys in their regions,” Wong said. “I try to get a bunch of people from my region together and say, “Hey, let’s all go down there and steal their trophies. You start to develop a relationship with lots of different people and kind of grow your NASA family. I like to trash talk a lot, so I’m always on Facebook with a lot of people and we’re always trash-talking each other, and that’s always fun.”

It is all in good fun. A patent examiner specializing in fiber optics with the U.S. Patent Office, Wong said his weekends at the track are his escape from what he says can sometimes be a repetitive job.

“If you’ve got a patent application for something, my job is to find it,” he said. “If it’s not already out there, then the process of granting that patent begins. I work a lot with patent attorneys and sometimes inventors.”

His love for cars and driving fast started in college, when his roommate introduced him to autocross. It didn’t matter that his roommate had a Saturn or that Wong owned a super agile 1995 Pontiac Grand Am. After college, he bought a C5 Corvette, which he also autocrossed — till he wrecked it at the finish line one weekend. He spun it, and sailed backward over a curb and into a tree. The good news is he had nailed the top time of the day. Temporarily.

Wong admits it was actually his sister who got him interested in BMWs. Believe it or not, she let him take her E36 M3 to the track, and his wife also let him take her E36 M3 to the track.

“It was a really nice E36 M3 street car with very low miles. So I kind of … took her car,” he said with a chuckle. “She said it was like bait to get me to marry her, or something along those lines.”

It obviously worked because Wong and his wife now have a 2-year old son. They decided her car was too nice, so they bought another E36 M3 — are you seeing a trend here? — with higher mileage that Wong could take to the track without feeling guilty. That was a smart move, because Wong “kissed” a tire wall with the car, at which point he went all in and made it into a racecar.

“I said, ‘I’m going to turn this into a track car,’” he recalled. “I thought I’d build it into a racecar thinking, ‘Eh, it’s not going to be that much more money.’ And, of course, we all know how that ends.”

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Well, for Wong, it ended with a new beginning, because shortly thereafter he set about building a newer E46 car for competition in GTS3, a series he’s been leader of since 2008. A NASA member since 2001, Wong now leads the GTS3 points chase in the Mid-Atlantic region and will be vying for a Championship in the Eastern States Championships at Road Atlanta at the end of the month. He hasn’t driven that track since his son was born, but he has some seat time there from when he used to visit the track on his out-of-region race trips.

“If it were closer, that would be my favorite track,” Wong said. “I like to think of Road Atlanta as a mix between VIR and Watkins Glen. It’s got downhill esses instead of uphill esses. Turn 12 is always fun, and Turn 1, too.”

After this season, he’s considering building a Spec E46 for the new NASA class. Admittedly not a fan of spec-class racing, Wong likes the build recipe for Spec E46.

“Actually a lot of people are talking about it right now. A lot of people are building them, and a lot of good drivers are building them,” he said. “I prefer my racecars to handle and drive well. I don’t want to have to drive around substandard suspension, so in that sense, you have spend a little bit more money up front to get the car to handle well and be fun to drive, and I think that’s a key selling point for that class.”

If he does build a new car, you can bet he’ll be out meeting people, adding them to his Facebook friends list — and smack-talking every one of them.

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Image courtesy of Eric Wong