Running a business and car racing – none of them is an easy task. Both require tremendous determination and concentration. But these drivers are good at both of them. Let’s find out more about them.
A group of startup founders gathered to race. E in the E-racing team stands for entrepreneurs. At first, they just kept talking about their one favorite hobby, cars. Then in 2011, they became serious enough to participate in an amateur race. 14 drivers/entrepreneurs are in this team, and now they are aiming for the Hyundai Veloster N Cup since last year.
These five drivers – Kevin Lee, the Entrepreneur of SundayToz and the developer of Anipang, Jeffrey Lim, the founder of a venture fund and seed accelerator ‘500 Startups’, Lee DuHee, Founder of a non-profit foundation for Computer coding education ‘LIKE LION’, Bruce TY Jeon, Partner at Bon Angels Venture Partners Co Ltd., and Chester Roh, chief strategy officer (CSO) of virtual reality (VR) content developer ‘Reality Reflection’ – are the most ambitious drivers in E-racing team, though all of them are amateur drivers.
When drivers finally gathered for the interview, it was pretty clear to see how much they love cars, based on the cars they drove – from an EV to a fancy sports car. And there was the Hyundai Veloster N, vividly colored ‘Performance Blue’ paint that Lee DuHee brought for the photoshoot.
Everybody knows that it requires a huge amount of time to be successful in a car race. So to be honest, entrepreneurs cannot – and should not – make much time for car racing. But they thought otherwise; the biggest reason to pursue car racing is that they could simply enjoy driving, pushing the car to its limit.
“At first we started with Go-Karting and learned the basics of driving, such as the grip of the tire on the road. We also took a snowboarding class and a car drifting class in Finland to enhance our skills in a harsher climate”, said Lim. Then the team began racing in 2014. Many drivers including Roh participated in Nexen Speed Racing and Ecsta Supper Challenge as amateur team members.
E-racing Team is now facing its 10th anniversary, but the Veloster N Cup 2019 was their biggest moment as a racing team. Lim, as team director, and the four drivers poured their heart into the race. Kim Seon-jun, team mechanic/coach and CEO of ‘Orange Garage’, also helped. Lee, who participated in the BMW M Motorsport and the Veloster N Cup back in 2018, realized why teamwork matters – “I am thankful for my teammates. Together we can think about the strategy and work things out much more systematically. Team radio is very important, too. This is for monitoring all the situations during the race and pacing myself. Just listening to our director’s voice coming from the radio soothes me”.
“We help each other not only with the races but also with our businesses as startup founders”, says Jeon. “We bond with each other and listen to each other about any obstacles we face at work. Above all, it feels really good that we can just ditch our work and be together for two or three days, just racing”. The only two subjects they talk about are racing and startup businesses, and sometimes they even start a new business together.
Then we asked how they think about the Hyundai Veloster N. “The Veloster N is a fun car, making the driving experience a pleasure for many. Though as a front-wheel-drive-car, the e-LSD (electronic Limited-Slip Differential) is the reason for the closely packed finish times. This is perfect for such a high-performance car, for maximizing cornering ability and controlling understeer. As an automaniac, I couldn’t help falling in love with the Veloster N”, said Lee DuHee.
Kevin Lee also praised upon the Veloster N’s chassis. “One advantage of the Veloster N is in build quality that can be compared to that of European Hot Hatches. The steering and the suspension are so intuitively designed.” “The Veloster N is an intensely drivable race car that can endure any extreme condition or maneuver. It was of course built with the circuit in mind and that’s why car troubles are rare in this race and it requires no tuning”, said Chester Roh.
They were more excited to hear the news that Hyundai is hosting the N Cup, a one-make race featuring exclusively the Veloster N, than the release of Veloster N itself. “All the drivers feel so much closer because the players all race with the same vehicle specifications. We all communicate with each other for better driving skills or car settings”, said Jeffrey Lim.
Chester Roh said, “as an amateur racing team, there could be a financial burden to run this team. But the Veloster N Cup provides us with a low entrance barrier; car maintenance is pretty much affordable. So we could really enjoy racing our cars, and we thank the Veloster N Cup for that”.
The team members all aim to stand on the podium. Their best record so far was Roh’s, placing the third. Kevin Lee stayed competitive in the early part of the season. Bruce TY Jeon also showed potential despite a lack of experiences, and Lee DuHee keeps doing better. Now they are looking forward to a better year.
When asked why they are so into these things, Lee DuHee said, “car racing and running business have very much in common. I guess that’s why I am into both of them. They all require immense concentration”.
Jeffrey Lim said, “you have got to reduce a millisecond corner by corner, just like you need to grow your business a little every other day. One single mistake might drag you behind, but the opportunity comes along every once in a while. That’s the beauty of them”.
Bruce TY Jeon also said, “racing and business indeed have so much in common. You need every ability to manage all the risks, and you need to be able to make quick judgment calls when the time comes. I find these thrilling moments vastly intriguing. This is why we love car racing”.
E-racing team is getting ready to participate in Veloster N Cup 2020. Chester Roh, Bruce TY Jeon, Kevin Lee, and Lee DuHee are the drivers. They are also considering getting a new driver for the team. And Jeffrey Lim told us about the team’s resolution for the 2020 season.
“Of course we purely enjoy car racing, but we also wish to stand on the podium. Just one driver. And we hope we’ll be friends for as long as we can, and last but not least, be safe while we race.”
Their friendship and commitment remain transparent for them, unclouded by anything else. Business or racing – they will not give up on anything.
Photograph. Choi Min-Seok