Life in the fast lane


For the Mirror

After David Jurca passed his driver’s test to get his license when he was 16, the instructor told him he was one of her best students.

Jurca didn’t mention he had been driving race cars for eight years.

“I’ve been driving for more than half my life now,” Jurca said. “Taking driver’s ed was pretty easy.”

Jurca, a 17-year-old senior at Federal Way High School, raced in front of 175,000 specatators at the 51st annual 12 Hours of Sebring March 13-15. Jurca didn’t finish the race after being involved in two separate crashes during the race. The race was part of the $45,000 scholarship, which includes a sponsored season in the Formula Dodge National Championship Series, he won in January. Jurca was one of four selected from the top-16 drivers in kart racing from the United States and Canada. The criteria being evaluated were based on speed, potential and the attitude of the driver.

“I like the speed, the adreneline,” Jurca said. “Being on your own and nobody there to distract you. You get really focused and you forget everything but racing. I love taking it to the limit and being in control.”

Racing is in Jurca’s blood.

His grandfather, Miroslav, raced cars in the Czech Republic. Miroslav was an accomplished racer in the 1950s but was forced to quit early because of the Communist government.

Miroslav’s son Peter, David’s father, remembers watching his dad race. Although Peter loved cars, he was unable to race because of the political climate of the Czech Republic.

In 1985, the family escaped to Austria, where David was born. Two months later, they came to Seattle, where Peter passed on his love of the sport to David.

“When I was 4, I was already watching Formula-1 and Indy car on TV,” Jurca said. “When I was six, we went out to the local race track in Tacoma and I was hooked.”

When Jurca turned 8, he started racing karts.

“Ever since I started, I was like, I want to be a race car driver when I grow up,” Jurca said. “Ninety percent of Formula One and Indy car drivers come out of racing karts, so we knew that’s where we had to start. Our goal was just to learn as much as we could racing karts then move into racing cars.”

Jurca has been successful racing karts, taking first place in various regional and national events since 1998.

“You have to have a lot of support to race,” Jurca said. “My dad gives me an unbeleiveable amount of support.”

Since 2000, Jurca has been racing with Vancouver, B.C.-based Italian Motors.

In 2001 and 2002 he won the prestigious Westwood Karting

“The Greg Moore Memorial Award”. This award is given to a member who “displays outstanding performance in racing” outside of the club level.

That helped him qualify for the Skip Barber Racing School, which utlimately led to Jurca being selected for theBarber-Championship Auto Racing Teams Karting Scholarship.

“I went into the event wanting to win the scholarship,” Jurca said. “I got progressively better as the competition went on and now I have achieved my greatest moment in racing so far.”

Ultimately, Jurca’s goal is to race in Formula One or CART. He’s on the second step of the ladder, with three steps to go until he’ll have enough experience to race Indy cars.

“Basically you have to move through the ranks,” Jurca said. “You’re not going to skip one of the steps. I was really fortunate to win the scholarship.”

Despite missing about 20 days of school every semester because of racing, Jurca maintaines a 3.98 gpa and is ranked 10th out of 553 students in his class.

“I have good friends who are able to keep me up to date with what I miss,” Jurca said. “And I have a lot of late nights.”

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