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|Performance Touring D|
|Penaltees.com, Robert Davis Racing, Mothers Polishes Waxes and Cleaners, Mazdaspeed|
|chunky peanut butter on hot toast|
Favorite TV show:
|BBC Top Gear|
|The original ”Italian Job”|
|“The Fountainhead,” by Ayn Rand|
|DTM touring car|
2012 Performance Touring D Champion Joshua Allan is fast. At the 2013 National Championships at Miller Motorsports Park, he was less than a car length from becoming the 2013 PTD Champion, so he’s consistent, too. Unlike a lot of the more common narratives of fast drivers, Allan didn’t start in karting at a young age.
He got his first taste for speed on two wheels as a motorcycle messenger for a law firm in Culver City, Calif. Then a mechanical engineering student at UCLA, Allan would shuttle documents to the courthouse and to clients around the city.
“Motorcycles were my first taste of freedom, because my parents wouldn’t let me buy a car, or a motorcycle, for that matter, when I was young,” Allan said. “The first vehicle I owned was a motorcycle and that’s how I got around in college.”
Allan also worked on evenings and weekends as a valet in tony Brentwood, Malibu and Beverly Hills. It was there he was first exposed to driving really nice cars, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches. He was hooked.
Upon graduation from UCLA, he got a job working for CATIA, a company that makes the most widely used design software in the automotive and aerospace industries. He transferred to Detroit, where he worked for Chrysler and its suppliers. In just two years, he attracted the attention of Mecanica Solutions, who hired him out to Ferrari Formula 1. Yes, that Ferrari. That Formula 1.
“I was there from 2001 to 2004, and those were Michael’s (Schumacher) winning years,” he said. “We were always having celebrations, parties. There were tons of souvenirs handed out and gifts. It was a pretty good time to work there. Everybody was happy, and we couldn’t really do anything wrong.”
Allan’s job was to streamline the design processes, support the designers and develop new processes and products in the research and development department. He worked strictly on the Formula 1 cars, in Maranello, Italy. He was one of the hundreds of people you hear about who toiled away at headquarters, but didn’t travel with the team.
“The coolest thing about working there was that I would work with all the different departments, except for powertrain because they used a different software,” Allan said. “I was interfacing with the aerodynamics department, the chassis department, assembly and the research and development guys. So I really had an opportunity to see all the facets of the Ferrari Formula 1 department. My work with them kind of touched all areas and maybe didn’t go quite as deep, but I really liked that because I learned a great deal. I also had the opportunity to network with all these different professionals in Formula 1.”
While he was with Ferrari, Allan was pursuing his own driving passion, taking driving courses and even competing in Formula Ford in Italy in 2003. He then turned his experience into an instructor position at Driving Camp, where he had begun his driving career. Allan began to set his sights on getting out from behind a computer and behind the wheel.
“I was joking around with my buddies one day at lunch,” he said. “I remember it vividly. The Formula 1 car was testing in the background, and I made an off-the-cuff comment about, ‘Wow, how great would it be to be a test driver one day,’ and one of the guys said, ‘Yeah, that’ll never happen.’”
Through his networking and experience as a driver and an instructor — he was even getting his name in the Italian motorsports weekly — one of the guys introduced him to Dario Benuzzi, the chief test driver for Ferrari. And it looked like he might actually get to drive for Ferrari, but they kept telling him why they weren’t able to hire him, even though they were interested.
“But when the son of the secretary of (Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di) Montezemolo got hired as a test driver, I realized that’s the way things work, so I decided to leave the job at Ferrari and come back to California,” he said.
Then, just two weeks before he was scheduled to return to the United States, a representative from Maserati called and asked if he would be interested in a test driver job.
“The next day, I was in a Maserati Grand Sport driving around Fiorano as my interview,” he said. “That in itself was a dream come true. After watching Schumacher run around this track, here I was on this hallowed ground.”
He worked as a test driver for Maserati for three years, getting paid to do what he loved. But didn’t have enough free time to go racing, which was something he missed.
“The job was really demanding on my time, and I can’t say that it paid very well,” Allan said. “It was nothing compared to what I was paid with the Formula 1 stuff, but it was exactly what I wanted to do. I was developing my driving skills, I was going all over Europe, from Nardo in the south of Italy to the Arctic Circle for winter testing. Awesome hotels and restaurants, all expenses paid, but the problem was it didn’t allow me the time to go racing and I was trying to work with a number of people to get some support for a racing program, but nobody was interested.”
Allan left Maserati, returned to California and got a job with AC Propulsion, a company that develops powertrains for electric vehicles. Allan recently left AC Propulsion because he was busy enough as a driving coach and an instructor for Danny McKeever’s Fast Lane Racing School, Allen Berg Racing Schools and Simraceway in Sonoma.
He’s pushing for another championship in his MX-5 so he can score an invitation to the Mazda Club Racer Shootout. He’s grateful for all the help and support he gets as a team member of Robert Davis Racing, and from Mothers Polishes Waxes and Cleaners. He’s also keenly aware of how good he has it racing under the Mazdaspeed umbrella.
“Mazda has been so good to amateur racers,” he said. “It’s hard to see why anybody would race anything but a Mazda.”