Jonathan Kotyk concluded the 2017 F1600 Championship in second-place behind teammate Matthew Cowley at New Jersey Motorsports Park last weekend. We caught up with Kotyk as he travels to England to participate in the Team USA Scholarship opportunities.
What has been the biggest challenge this year and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge this year had to be coming into the season with no car experience. Many of the drivers that I have raced against so far have two plus years behind the wheel. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, but it has allowed me to learn from them. Having teammates with prior car experience has made a difference too. I can compare how I am doing through the data to see where I can improve as a driver because this information is key in getting up to speed quickly. Team Pelfrey has done a tremendous job helping me get up to speed as well. The team is full of talent which has positively influenced my success this year. Staying focused and working hard to be the best I can be on and off the track has allowed me to breakthrough and have remarkable success this year.
Who has impacted you the most in your racing career and how?
When I first started back in karting until now, there have been many influential figures who have impacted my career. From karting, influential figures have been Nate Grindell, George, Chris Enderlein, Alex and Mike Speed, Gary Carlton, Mario Ioffredo, Austin Miles, John Russell, Chris Wheeler, The Mclaughlins, Mike Tetreault, and the support of Ocala Gran Prix and Top Kart USA. They have all taught me the valuable skills which I have used to refine my race craft. Since then my network has grown now that I have made the step into cars. I continue to meet influential figures like Jonny Baker, Dale Pelfrey, Anders Krohn, Geoff Bushor, Nick Andres, Jeremy Grenier, Jay Green, Tom Knapp, Joe Haynes, Jeremy Shaw, Team Pelfrey, The Team USA Scholarship Program, and many others. They all give me great advice which has helped me behind the wheel and outside the car. These individuals have majorly influenced my career as a racing driver.
You’ve spent a lot of time in the F1600 and MRTI paddock this season, in your opinion, what sets Team Pelfrey apart from other distinguished teams?
Team Pelfrey has a high level of professionalism on and off the track. From the moment you walk into the paddock, the black and yellow of Team Pelfrey stand out. The team is filled with talent. They bring some of the best driver coaches, engineers, and mechanics together to give their drivers race winning cars and advice week in and week out. This is what has allowed them to standout. Along with offering an exceptional program for their drivers Team Pelfrey also offers a great environment to entertain guests. The hospitality area offered each weekend stands above the rest. It’s a premiere setup whether you are looking for a bite to eat or relax and watch the race. Team Pelfrey offers the complete package at each race which sets them apart from other teams in the paddock.
Gap Guard has proven to be a big supporter of yours over the course of the season, do you have any recommendations to upcoming drivers struggling to find reliable sponsors, such as Gap Guard?
The biggest thing for upcoming drivers struggling to find sponsors is to offer more than just having a company’s name on the car. What you do outside the car is, if not, more important than your performance inside of the car. Be creative! Have your sponsors come out to an event, post a video talking about their company or include them in a weekly write up. Some ways may be more effective than others. It’s up to you to decide because you are building your brand along the way as well. When a person or company sponsor helps you out, you become a representative. Represent them to your fullest potential no matter where you are, and always remember to thank them as they are your biggest supporters. If you are having trouble and keep getting “no’s” don’t get discouraged. Believe in yourself and don’t give up. The doors will open. There is no right or wrong direction into motor racing. Setting achievable goals and working hard will lead to favorable results.
What are your hobbies outside of racing?
Outside of racing I am quite busy. I always have something going on so there is never a dull moment. When I do have a moment, I like to relax and spend time with friends. I am almost always on the road so it is good to take a break and catchup. Fitness is important to me, as driving a car can be quite demanding. I make sure to stay in shape by training frequently whether it’s at the gym or at a hotel. Traveling is something that I like to do as well. Fortunately, with racing I can travel quite a bit. The good thing is I enjoy every moment.