9tro issue #6
Text by: Cheryl Tay
Photos by: Cheryl Tay
This year was a busy year for Charles Ng as he travelled across the globe frequently to participate in circuit races and drifting competitions. After completing his Masters of Arts (Economics) degree at the University of San Francisco, Charles was working in investment banking and real estate. However, he made the decision to quit his job and go racing full-time in 2010 after realising that he had a talent in racing as well as drifting.
Shuffling back and forth between the United States and Asia quite a bit, for both racing and drifting, Charles almost won top rookie for Formula Drift USA and came in 17th overall. He managed to make it to the top eight for Round 4 at Evergreen Speedway, Seattle and Round 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He was also crowned the overall champion for the ATCC held at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, where he came in no lower than second place throughout the entire season. For experience, Charles also took part in some races at the Macau Grand Prix 2010.
Sponsored by local company SPARK Motorsports for Formula Drift Malaysia 2010, Charles managed to get into the top 16 but was taken out of the competition by eventual second-place winner D Koh-Kae of Thailand.
Only into his first full year of racing, 9tro chats up Charles to understand the direction he has set for himself…
Q: How did you get involved in motorsports?
A: I was just an ordinary street racer in Hong Kong before I went over to the United States for further studies. In the States, I often went for track days and other racing events with friends.
Q: So at which point did you start racing?
A: I took part in races for the fun of it but soon discovered I had the talent. My first race was the 2008 Skip Barber Mazdaspeed MX-5 Challenge National Series and I clinched double pole positions and double wins for both races that weekend. The next year (in 2009) I was the overall champion for the Skip Barber Mazdaspeed MX-5 Challenge Western Series.
I also won my first official drift competition – the 2009 Formula Drift USA Pro-Am Championship at Irwindale Toyota Speedway. After that I went on to the Formula Drift Pro Am National Championship, also at Irwindale Toyota Speedway, and I finished seventh, earning myself a Formula D Pro Licence.
Q: That is impressive, how did it go from there?
A: After recognising the talent, I considered racing professionally. I’m still young and it’s now or never, so I decided to step up my game. I quit my full-time investment banking and real estate job and am now pursuing a racing driver career.
Q: You compete in both circuit racing and drifting, which are you more inclined to?
A: I would say it’s a 50-50. I’m doing equally well in both, although I’ve won more titles in circuit races. Then again I’ve been doing circuit races for two years and drifting for a year. Also, it is harder to win in drifting. Motorsports is already unpredictable, drifting is even more so.
Q: How do you adjust between racing and drifting?
A: Some adjustments need to be made. Sometimes when I go racing after drifting, I will be a little confused for the first few laps, especially when it’s a back-to-back schedule with one weekend after another. Those in racing say they see a lot of drifting in my racing and conversely, those in drifting say they see a lot of racing in my drifting.
Q: What has motorsports taught you?
A: It has changed the way I look at things. For example, I am more patient in waiting for a chance to do something. Yes it may sound funny, but motorsports is very competitive and aggressive, yet it has made me more calm and patient instead. By not rushing into things too quickly, you will be able to maximise opportunities better and hence enhance results.
Q: Is it necessary for your partner to have a passion in motorsports too?
A: Yes, quite necessary. It’s always good to share common interests, especially with your close ones. It is human nature to tend to stick to like-minded people and you would like people close to you to share the same interest and support you.
Q: What do you think of motorsports in Asia?
A: I’m currently based in the United States, but I’m looking forward to moving back to Asia actually. I will do so when I can get a lot of support from Asia, when I feel the market is more mature and when I can get enough sponsorships to be where I want to be.
Q: Where do you want to be?
A: I want to race in World Touring Car Championship one day. I would also like to go to China and race, lots of prospects there!
Q: What are the different aspects of a racing driver?
A: Physical fitness is important, so is mental training. Before a race, think about what you are to do on the track as it not only costs money, but it involves other people’s efforts as well. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into getting the car onto the grid, so make sure you give your best. I do visual imagery training and think of what should be done and what should not be done.
Q: Now that you are driving full-time, how do you fund your races?
A: I get paid to go racing, thanks to my sponsor Ping An Insurance. Of course, I still have to self-fund where the sponsors don’t cover. I hope to gain more partnership opportunities so I can participate at higher levels of professional series.
Name: Charles Ng
DOB: 1 August 1984
Nationality: Chinese (Hong Kong)
Residence: Rowland Heights, California
Education: M.A. Economics (University of San Francisco)
Languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese and some Japanese
*This was first published in 9tro.