Race Team Confidential: Boehm Racing—Kevin Boehm, Columbus, Ohio
As engineer and driver, this SRO TC America Series road racing competitor remains “very hands-on with the car, both on and off track.”
I compete in the SRO TC America Series with DXDT and CrowdStrike Racing. In 2020, I drove a 2019 HPD turnkey Honda Civic Si in the TCA class and won the Driver and Team Championship, as well as the Rookie of the Year award. For the 2021 season, I have moved up to the TC class and am driving a 2018 HPD turnkey Honda Civic Type R. This car was fully developed in the US, doesn’t require much prep to race in the TC America Series, and is fully homologated. This does not allow much room to make changes to the car beyond your typical tweaks to the suspension.
Preparation for the 2021 season started a little before the 2020 season ended, and the first event this year was in the beginning of March at Sonoma Raceway. The 2021 SRO TC America calendar races at some of the best tracks in the US, including Circuit of The Americas, Virginia International Raceway, Road America, Watkins Glen, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
At the season opener, I tried to guess a setup on the car to give it a starting point. This car is somewhat related to the car I raced last year, and they share a lot of parts, but they also have a lot of differences. So, I based my setup on last year’s experience. The first session on the track at Sonoma wasn’t great. It definitely took the whole event to get the car to where it was raceable. Essentially, the car was way too stable. As we went through the weekend, I kept making changes focused on the rear of the car to try and balance the grip. I specifically was trying to make the front have to do a little bit less of the steering. Trying to help the car steer from the rear was the priority for the whole weekend.
That being said, in the first race I was able to finish on the podium—in third place. And then, in Sunday’s race of that event, I actually led every lap and won the race. So overall, the weekend was more successful than I expected. However, I didn’t get to the perfect setup yet, and still think there’s a lot of fine tuning to be done.
The results from Sonoma came from hard work and a bit of luck. I don’t expect to be lucky at any of my events, however, so I look forward to working hard for podiums for the rest of the season.
I’m fairly unique in this series because I’m not only the driver, but also the engineer for my car. I’m very hands-on with the car, both on and off track. I think I approach any issues with the race car a bit differently than a lot of my peers.
When you’re racing at this level, most teams have a driver in the car whose main goal is to push the car to the limit. And then once that limit is found, he normally describes to the engineer what’s holding him back from going faster. The engineer’s job is to ask questions for the purpose of translating what the driver is saying into a more technical description of the problem, so they can then start solving it.
The hard part when you have two people doing that is, it’s really difficult for the engineer to not have confirmation bias. As an engineer it’s easy, based on a few pieces of information from the driver, to get an idea in your head of what the solution might be. And, if you’re not careful, you can ask questions that might corner the driver into just agreeing with your opinion. That’s a subconscious thing, and something that engineers might not even know they’re doing. So, things getting lost in translation between two people is fairly common.
For me, I’m the same person, so the driver and engineer are both inside my head. Whenever I’m driving and I feel like I’ve gotten to the limit of the car, I can feel it as a driver, but then also feel it from a very technical mindset, from the engineering side of my brain. I don’t have to go back to the garage and have a debrief with another person; I can be doing it live while I’m driving on the track. That is a huge time saver, and it eliminates that possibility of confirmation bias, as well as getting rid of the “lost in translation” problem.
I definitely feel like I’ve accomplished a lot throughout my career: I’ve been able to win four SCCA National Championships, and last year managed to win my first professional championship in SRO.
In the future I would really love to make the jump to GT cars, and I would like to do some of the world-famous endurance races like Daytona and Sebring and Road Atlanta, and then even the 24 Hours of Spa and Le Mans. That’s the ultimate goal, and I’m willing to put in the work to see if I can make it happen.