Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

18-year-old Spring Hill driver passionate about racing

Chris Friel, an 18-year-old graduate of Nature Coast Technical High School, has found success behind the wheel of race cars. He races in the International Motor Sports Associations and American Le Mans/IMSA-Lites series and is seeking a major sponsor.

RON THOMPSON | Times

Chris Friel, an 18-year-old graduate of Nature Coast Technical High School, has found success behind the wheel of race cars. He races in the International Motor Sports Associations and American Le Mans/IMSA-Lites series and is seeking a major sponsor.

SPRING HILL —

Being a high school student is a hard enough full-time job.

Try balancing school, work and a professional racing career. That's what Chris Friel, an 18-year-old graduate from Nature Coast Technical High School, is doing. Friel has maintained good grades, knowing that his parents always wanted him to get a high school diploma.

"It was always hard to balance school and racing," Friel said. "But I knew when I was in school, I couldn't play around. I was there to get my diploma and that's what I did."

Chris' dad, James Friel, who is a retired Pasco County Sheriff's deputy, said that all the travel involved with the International Motor Sports Associations and the American Le Mans/IMSA-Lites series takes the Friel family to various locations, from California to Connecticut. That tends to make Chris' studies very stressful.

How can an 18-year-old kid have the passion and the mindset to commit to racing? Well, in Chris' world, the answer is simple.

"My grandparents," Chris said. "At age 12, I was blessed enough to receive a go-cart as a Christmas present. Every professional racer knows that you start in go-carts and work your way up."

This present may have been the spark that ignited his mad sprint to the top, but his dad thinks there might just be more to the passion than meets the eye.

"The present was great," James said. "Chris beamed from ear to ear when he saw it, and he couldn't believe it. The other presents that came with it were a suit and a helmet. He put those on and you could not get him out of them.

"I always enjoyed sports cars and foreign cars and always enjoyed going to the races and watching people restore old cars, but I never was involved in racing at all. Chris got the bug more than anything else — probably when he was very young. A friend of his got him involved in BMX racing bicycles and he wanted to move him and Chris into motocross. We said no way, and we are glad we did."

Bug or no bug, Chris has put a lot of hard work and dedication into his racing. He is unconditional in his methods though.

"It's not like baseball or football where you practice what you do to get better," Chris said. "Yeah, I drive to collect data from the cars and tracks but I do a lot of conditioning as well. I hit the gym, where I run and lift to stay in shape. Driving is not as easy as it looks."

For now, Chris wants to get a full sponsorship to compete and earn a spot as a full-time professional. His primary sponsor now is Race Kids, a group which assists in raising money, takes some of their profits and donate some more to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.

Chris hopes to lock up another permanent sponsor to help pay for travel and expenses. Chris and James agree Chris' future is very bright and to succeed, all he needs is the chance.

"This is a dream come true for Chris," James said, "and with sponsorship support, it would place him as one of the first young drivers from the Tampa Bay area to progress from carting to an international road racing series."

Chris does not have the fortune of having sponsor opportunities offered to fellow professional drivers or established business partnerships involved in racing. He is doing it all on his own, through determination, dedication, and hard work.

"I know I can race," Chris said. "It's what I do. I'm blessed with family and friends who support me, and without them I don't know where I'd be. I'm glad to have gotten this far and I know I can make an impact at the next level. All I need is one shot."

Submit story ideas and feedback to communitysports@tampabay.com.

.BIOGRAPHY

Christopher Friel

Age: 18

School: Graduated from Nature Coast Technical High in 2007

On deck: Friel is waiting to hear from a big name sponsor soon.

On the Web: Has his own Web page at www.chrisfrielonline.com and his own sponsor page at www.racekids.org.

Did you know?: Friel has no distinctive number for his car. Before each race, Friel is assigned a different number.

18-year-old Spring Hill driver passionate about racing 03/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”