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Furman student doubles as race car driver

FEBRUARY 9, 2012
by Daniel Smith ’13, Contributing Writer

Many people spend their entire lives trying to find something they’re passionate about. But then there are the lucky ones, the people who just know what it is they want to do with their lives. At the young age of 11, David Levine became one of the lucky ones.

Levine and his father visited a go-cart track to enjoy a lazy Saturday. After his first run around the track, Levine was ready to make it a weekly tradition. These weekend excursions became private practice runs, which eventually led to his enrollment at the Skip Barber Racing School.

For the next few years, Levine, a native of Chicago, honed his skills at Skip Barber. Driving anything from stock cars to Midgets (small race cars that bear a striking resemblance to go-carts), Levine learned the various techniques associated with different cars and race tracks. In his later years at Skip Barber, he drove in the MAZDASPEED Challenge Series and logged four wins.

After a successful tenure at Skip Barber, Levine made two important decisions this past year. He enrolled at Furman and made the jump to the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. He described the tour as “the Single-A of NASCAR.” And although NASCAR doesn’t technically have a farm system, the Continental Challenge resembles the minor leagues in its structure.

Unlike NASCAR, races are based on a time limit rather than laps or a checkered flag. Whoever is in first after 2.5 hours wins. Races are also run in relay format, with two teammates splitting time to complete these tests of endurance. The races traditionally cover anywhere from 150 to 200 miles.

Levine’s racing schedule forces him to miss a few classes each month. But, other than that, balancing his hobby and academics isn’t that difficult.

“I’m usually able to get my homework done on my way to and from the race, so it hasn’t really been a problem,” he said.

Levin says the road to NASCAR may be simpler than one might think. In his team’s first race of the season, the BMW Performance 200 at Daytona, Levine placed third. If he continues to put up strong showings, his chances of being promoted to the Grand-Am Rolex Series next year are good.

From then on, he said, it becomes a money game.

“It all comes down to whether or not you can get sponsors,” he said. “If you can place well consistently and get your sponsors in order, the next step up from the Grand-Am is NASCAR.”

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