BRASELTON, Ga. – “Just be the ball.”
The famous line from Caddyshack sums up Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda driver Jim Garrett’s philosophy on success behind the wheel. Garrett jokes about the quote from the comedic film, but in all reality the phrase does pop into his mind come race time.
Before getting involved with motorsports, Garrett flew jets for the Navy. While piloting airplanes, he and his co-pilots needed total focus in order to control the aircraft. The same is true for racing.
“You can’t have any distractions,” Garrett said. “You can’t have your head any place else. You have to be right in the moment and be aware of everything that’s around you. You want to be one with the car, part of the car.”
On Sept. 19-21, Garrett will work to be one with his No. 42 Lites L1 Élan DP02 2.0L Mazda machine. This is the first time Garrett will be back in action since running at Sebring Int’l Raceway in the first two rounds of the 2013 season.
The Austin, Texas-native looks forward to driving on the 3.4-mile circuit, located 30 minutes from his home in the Lone Star State. Although his seat time has been limited this season, he has seen plenty of track time at Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
The world-class facility is a technical, challenging track that will trick drivers in many places into thinking the corner is passable. With almost 30 days of track time at COTA this year, the Eurosport Racing driver will have a leg up on most Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda drivers.
“COTA doesn’t reward you for overdriving the track,” Garrett explained. “It rewards patience and thinking through the track as you go around.”
Having raced in Porsches, Vipers and various prototypes, Garrett enjoys the Lites L1 Élan DP02 2.0L Mazda’s ability to take corners at high speed.
“The car is very quick and the speed it is able to generate around corners isn’t found in most other cars,” Garrett said. “And the series is so competitive. Many of the young people I race against today are the stars of tomorrow.”
Kyle Marcelli and Tristan Nunez are just two names that come to mind when Garrett thinks of the former Prototype Lites drivers he has raced with that have gone onto professional careers in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Garrett has been racing with the IMSA Developmental Series since 2008, and for someone who is never complacent or satisfied with life, the series has been a perfect way for him to improve.
“I love the level of concentration it requires and I love to compete,” Garrett said. “If I’m in a golf cart running around with someone else in a golf cart I have to beat them. I’m always trying to better myself and improve myself.”
The Army’s tagline is “Be all you can be,” and although Garrett is a little bitter the Army was able to come up with that instead of the Navy, he still lives by the phrase and looks at every day for a way to improve.