Auto Racing: Minden resident set to start pro racing series
What began as a minor bump in the road for Minden resident Kyle Gimple turned into an eventual career path.
Gimple, 18, played baseball throughout his childhood but was forced to stop when he suffered growth injuries in his feet.
His dad, who had long raced karts as a hobby, took Gimple to a nearby track and enrolled him in karting school to see if it was a good fit.
“I really took to it,” Gimple said. “It just felt like one of those things I was born to do. I went to the school and it didn’t take me long to get the grasp of what it was all about.”
Fast-forward past an 11-year tour of the developmental racing circuit to next week, when Gimple will embark on the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge as a co-driver with Michigan-based Capaldi Racing.
The Continental Tire series, a 10-race circuit that runs from January to September, is a step-down from the highest levels of professional racing. It serves as a support league for the Rolex Sports Car Series which is best known for the 24 Hours of Daytona and Watkins Glen races.
The first Continental race is the Daytona GRAND-AM 200 starting on Jan. 27.
Gimple will get the first television exposure of his young career as the series is carried by the SPEED Channel.
“I’m pretty excited,” Gimple said. “We just got back from Daytona for a three-day test there.
“It went really well. We greatly improved our times during the tests. We made some minor changes and hopefully we’ll have a competitive car for the season.”
Gimple and his family moved to Carson Valley in 2004 and he graduated from Bishop Manogue High School last season.
In the meantime, he made the transition from karts to cars in 2008 and quickly won Rookie of the Year honors of the Skip Barber Western Regional Championship series.
He came back in 2009 to win the Western Regional Series championship, won it again in 2010 and finished fifth in the Mustang Challenge, his first professional series, last fall despite joining the circuit late.
From there, he signed a one-year deal with Capaldi Racing for the Continental Tire series.
“This series, you could go many directions from here,” Gimple said. “My main goal is to be where people want me. Ideally, I’d want to make the jump to the Rolex Series and stay there. I want to stick with road courses as long as I can.”
Gimple received some unexpected help in his transition from karts to cars when his dad ran into racing legend Davy Jones, also a Minden resident, at the Reno-Fernley Raceway several years ago.
Jones has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 and was second in the Indy 500.
“He kind of became my driving coach,” Gimple said. “He’s been so helpful. It’s really good to have someone with that kind of experience to talk to.”
Gimple actually made his Continental Tire debut at the end of last season in the Garden State 250, driving the Matt Connolly Motorsports Mazda Miata MX-5.
He drove in both the Mustang Challenge and the Continental Tire series in a pair of very different cars.
He qualified 21st in the ST Class and was able to lead the team to an 18th position finish.
Gimple said he is still seeking sponsorships for the season. For more information, visit kylegimple.com or capaldiracing.com.