Chad McCumbee’s sports car career taking flight


Major League Baseball’s spring training is ramping up ahead of the start of the 2013 season, but for Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, another season has already kicked into high gear.

Wilson’s Austin-based racing team, C.J. Wilson Racing, has two races under its belt in the GRAND-AM Continental Sports Car Challenge ST class with its Mazda MX-5, and begins its championship defense in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series at Sebring International Raceway this weekend with a fleet of five cars.

At Austin’s Circuit of the Americas a little more than a week ago, CJWR opened its 2013 account in grand style with the team’s first pole and race win in GRAND-AM competition.

While three of its four drivers (Jason Saini, Marc Miller and Stevan McAleer) have embarked on a more conventional route to sports car racing, its fourth, Chad McCumbee, is beginning to come into his own after making a more surprising switch. The former stock car driver, who’s spent more than five seasons in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, stunned the establishment at COTA by scoring the pole position in qualifying.

McCumbee channeled the style of road course qualifying experts by waiting until the final seconds ticked off to secure the top spot on the grid. It ended a several-year long pole drought, as McCumbee came close but never won a pole in the trucks.

“It was one of those moments that you probably can’t repeat,” he said. “It was just chance that I hit everything right that particular lap. The car was just getting better the whole time, but we couldn’t put a whole lap together. I finally got a really good one going, crossed the line, and the way it worked out I barely got the pole.”

While his competitors have, in McCumbee’s words, “hundreds of thousands of combined laps,” all circuits are new to him since NASCAR rarely runs on road courses. Austin, as a new circuit, provided a more level playing field.

Pole is the first significant milestone in McCumbee’s burgeoning sports car career. The obvious factors in shifting from stock cars to sports cars are adjusting to the handling, shifting and braking of the car.

“In general, my shifting is getting better, and I’m adapting better to the car. But I think I have just gotten more comfortable,” he explained. “Between the shifting and the braking, those are the two things that were the toughest to overcome. Just the whole anti-lock aspect of it has been a huge hurdle for me. And now you know you can use and abuse them. Some of the other cars don’t have that.”

The Continental series runs alongside the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, and its level of competition is very stout with more than 60 cars usually racing at once, split between the GS and ST classes. Both team and driver are in a good spot once 2014’s merger between GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series combine forces to create a unified sports car championship.

“If you take care of the present, the future will take care of itself,” McCumbee surmised. “I’m just fully concentrated on doing the best job we can now. And I’m fully blessed to have this opportunity with this C.J. Wilson Racing team and ModSpace Motorsports. They all care and want you to succeed. You can’t say that about everyone.”

See also: Angels’ C.J. Wilson gets first win as race team owner

Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”