Asian race car drivers are breaking the mold and look of the sport of car racing. The first Filipino-American race car driver, Michele Bumgarner, is turning corners and bringing in new crowds as she pursues her passion to becoming a first-class driver. CCTV’s Ginger Vaughn reports from Houston.
Persistence on and off the track is what it takes to be successful, says Mazda Pro Cup race car driver Michele Bumgarner.
As the first Filipino female in car racing, the 24-year-old has overcome a lot of challenges. Bumgarner started out like most young racers, breaking international records in go-kart races. But she had to wait nearly five years until she was picked up by Mazda Philippines who now sponsors her training — which can cost up to $500,000 per season.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Bumgarner like many drivers during training season lives in Indianapolis, home of the prestigious Indianapolis 500. It’s considered to be the largest single-day sporting event in the world.
The Indy 500 is also one of the oldest auto racing events with nearly 100 years of history. In 2013, its cash prizes totaled over $12 million. While Bumgarner is still in training, she has her sights set for competing in a future Indy 500.
Racing is growing worldwide in popularity. NASCAR runs on U.S. tracks, while IndyCar races are expanding internationally. Both, however, require a minimum of a few million dollars per team per season. Formula One, which holds races internationally, and costs hundreds of millions of dollars per team.
In 2013, Takumi Sato became the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race, putting the spotlight on Asian drivers who are few in numbers.
Bumgarner wants to boost interest in racing across Asia as she proves herself in the Mazda Pro Cup series, a development program that seeks the best drivers and prepares them for bigger races.