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Green Devils and Green Flags: A Look At St Pete High’s Racing Scene

Students at St. Petersburg High School are no strangers to speed.
SPHS students find their own speed, professionally and recreationally.
Alex Bowen
SPHS students find their own speed, professionally and recreationally.

We all know speed, some of us are terrified of it while others live for it. At St. Petersburg High School, you may be surprised to know that we have a large population of drivers that walk these halls every day. In the motorsports community at SPHS, we have students racing everything from cars to go karts to video game Sim-Rigs. We also have those that take it to another level, like Alex Bowen and Sebastien Newberg, who both are students at SPHS and race full time in competitions like Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Formula Ford, Formula 4 and other racing series around the country. 

    Sophomore Alex Bowen is no stranger to speed. He is a sports car and formula car driver who was featured on 10 Tampa Bay News a couple weeks ago for being one of the world’s youngest professional drivers. Bowen says that “professional racing is complicated due to the cost and the level of competition.” Racing can often be a complex sport in which drivers harness the forces of physics. It is also a mix of engineering and skill as the car, the driver, and the team must work together in sync and harmony. Then you have the other cars around that you must pass safely, but in a clever and precise way with often inches between you and a wreck. Newberg says that “you have to plan ahead and be very precise with your overtaking” which is often a huge name of the game especially on the first lap with other cars all within touching distance. However, with great challenges come great thrills. Bowen says in his Lamborghini at his Sebring test that “I went 170mph down the back straight,” a speed that for some may be unimaginable. 

    Racing comes in many different forms. From little go karts to powerful hyper cars and formula cars that can top 200 miles per hour without flinching. Go karts are what drivers often start in and Newberg says they “are a lot more direct and everything is much more simple” and that it can be “a very different driving experience from a formula car.” Go Kart racing often only gets to highway speeds but in as little as five seconds usually. Go karts also can be physical with even bodyweight being used to find any extra bit of speed. Compared to formula cars like what Sebastien drives, these can be more about technique and have more power behind the pedals. You also have sportscars, which if you have the cash, you can pick one up at a dealership near you right now, but they are modified to survive tough tracks and to fit strict regulations to keep competition tight in series like IMSA, GT World Challenge, and more. 

   For those who may not be a future champion or have deep pockets, Sim Racing is also a way to enjoy this beautiful sport. This is not done with an Xbox controller though. Drivers use a rig that basically brings the car into our homes using games that simulate every aspect possible. Isaac Ryan Hallman, who is an avid gamer and kart racer, says that “Sim racing helps me learn how to do this in real life so I don’t hurt myself.” Sim racing allows drivers to hone their skills for real life and to drive with their dream cars on their dream tracks. For any parents who may worry about the danger of speed, luckily for you, we learn skills that help to be safer on the roads. Hallman says that racing “helps me understand different driving situations on the road better.” 

     Putting the checkered flag on this piece, SPHS has a community of both professional and recreational speed seekers who share their love for cars and the precision of driving. Next time you get on the road, well I won’t encourage dangerous driving… never mind. Maybe someday you can find the thrill of speed and skill at a track, as well as some fellow Green Devils that share this same passion.

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