|Hometown||Santa Cruz, Calif.|
|Racing Class||Various Super Touring, E0 and ES|
|Sponsors||Thats complicated. There are a lot for different project cars|
|Day Job||Valkyrie Autosport, team principle, mechanic/fabricator|
|Favorite Food||Anything my wife cooks.|
|Favorite TV show||Don’t you have to answer “Game of Thrones?”|
|Favorite Movie||Anything space nerdy|
|Favorite Book||“Ender’s Game” series.|
|Favorite Track||Thunderhill Raceway Park|
|Dream Racecar||I own it! Nissan 370Z GT ES Endurance racecar|
Brian Lock had big ambitions to race professionally until he got a glimpse into the bruising world of pro automobile racing.
Lock, then in his early 20s, found out most professional drivers aren’t paid to race, and chasing sponsorships was hard work. Although Lock has the natural talent to race in the upper ranks, he knew he would have to take a different path if he wanted to stay in auto racing.
“This was more exciting, more intoxicating than anything else, and (racing) success came very easy,” Lock said. “Then the reality came down on me on how difficult this was going to be. How many people were in my shoes, who have some natural talent, want to do this thing?”
Thankfully for racers in NASA’s NorCal region, Lock decided to stay in the industry. Lock is a force on the track when he’s racing and a steady influence in the paddock, with several teams racing under the Valkyrie Autosport banner.
Lock and his wife, Christina Brady, founded the Valkyrie racing shop in Santa Cruz, Calif., allowing Brian to use his driving, coaching, mechanical and fabrication skills to support amateur racers. The small race shop is focused on Nissans that compete in NASA’s Super Touring and Endurance series. They also support an NP01 car.
Lock drove a customer’s NP01 to back-to-back NASA Western States Championships, with the most recent crown coming last October at Thunderhill Raceway Park. The company’s best marketing is Lock winning championships, but at the track, his focus is working with clients.
Lock calls Valkyrie Autosport a “boutique race team” offering trackside service. Chances are if the NorCal region is racing, Lock will be there supporting his teams with service and coaching help.
“What I try to sell is the more personal experience, family atmosphere, the barbecues at the end of the day where we all sit down, open our laptops and look at data together,” Lock said. “I think that’s where we excel.”
One of Lock’s earliest clients was Giles Powell, who races a Nissan 350Z in the Super Touring 3 class. Lock took Powell to his first track day at Thunderhill Raceway Park, and Powell was hooked.
“(From there) he led me through a series of increasingly expensive decisions, which has worked out pretty well,” Powell said with a laugh.
Powell hired Lock to build him a new racecar and to coach him, since Powell was a newcomer to the sport.
“The amazing thing about him is for somebody as talented as he is — both as a driver and a car chief — he really has very little ego, which makes him a really good coach because there’s no sense of competition involved,” Powell said.
Lock will frequently take a client’s car at the track and put down a reference lap when working with a student. By comparing laps between instructor and student, Lock shows them specifically where they can improve their lap speeds.
“The thing you fight people with is they want to overdrive their car, they want to feel like they’re going into the corner fast,” Lock said. “They want to do something aggressive on the throttle because that’s fast. Being able to show those examples with empirical data is the way to do it.”
Lock learned data analysis while racing a year on the US Touring Car Championship (where he won rookie of the year) and driving for a Grand Am team. He went on to manage a race team before striking out on his own.
In forming the Valkyrie shop, Lock and Brady were adamant that they own all of the equipment including a 38-foot hauler. They didn’t want sponsors and the uncertainty of marketing budgets to fund the race shop when they launched it in 2012.
“I’ve almost gone through the college of racing, if you will, in how much I’ve learned in the industry,” said Lock, 36. “The only skills I have in this world are managing race teams, building race cars and driving them.”
At Valkyrie Autosport, he builds and services the racecars. When it comes to fabricating roll cages and machining parts, Lock puts his two years of aeronautical engineering studies at San Jose State University to use.
“I wasn’t (in college) long enough to get up in the super high level of my aerospace studies, but I learned enough about basic aerodynamics, basic statics and physics,” Lock said. “That gave me the base knowledge I needed to design my own cars and make somewhat educated decisions on my homebuilt aerodynamics, roll cage design, things like that.”
Brian Thornton started racing last year under the Valkyrie Autosport flag, and he relies on Lock for trackside support, coaching and data analysis. Having an engineering background, Thornton said Lock can offer deeper insight into aerodynamics and setup.
“He really does seem like he wants to see other people succeed and if he teaches me so well I drive faster than he does, I think he would be pretty happy about that,” Thornton said. “(But) I don’t think it’s likely.”
Racers can expect to see Valkyrie Autosport teams at more endurance races this season. Lock built the car that won E0 in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill a two years ago and took third in 2017. “Really, where our heart lies is in endurance racing,” he said.
Whenever Lock has dreams of driving professionally, he remembers the frustrations of finding sponsors.
“There’s never been anything in my life that comes as easily to me as being out there driving,” Lock said. “I have no formal background in business, so business is always a struggle, and I’m always asking myself if I’m doing the right thing. Whereas when I’m behind the wheel, none of that exists.”
Lock hopes his clients share the same joy on the track.
“I love to see people have fun. I love to see people take it seriously enough to have intense battles on track, but also understand that this is everyone’s hobby,” Lock said. “That makes my weekend.”