Jerry in his Winklemann Formula Ford at Bridgehampton.

As John Lennon said, “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”  I dream of racing cars.  Mom says “no”.  Today I am interviewing Jerry Gladstone (whose mom did not say “no”).  Among other careers, he is a retired race-car driver.

Interviews are a fun way to learn about lives that are different from one’s own.  They educate the reader and show an aspect of life that you might not have known.

Jerry, thank you for kindly agreeing to be interviewed.  I enjoyed hearing about your auto life. Your Winklemann Ford was very cool!

Jerry drove race-cars as a hobby in the amateur class in SCCA.

SCCA stands for Sports Car Club of America. Their goal is to bring car racing to all Americans.  Sounds fun!  Usually people collect cars as a hobby, they usually don’t race.  Jerry does both.  Jerry had fun racing in SCCA.  Today he is a physicist/electrical engineer with a Bachelor’s degree and two graduate degrees. He is married and the father of two adult children.

How did you get interested in racing and cars?

Jerry G:  When I was growing up boys and young men were very interested in cars — it was a car culture generation. (There were no computers or video games to distract us.) My first attendance at a race put the “bug” in my head that I would like to race too, as soon as I could figure out how to get into racing.

What did you compete in; NASCAR, Indy, SCCA, or NHRA?

Jerry G:  I competed in SCCA as an amateur racer. My racing was a “hobby”, I never intended to be a professional.

What car did you drive?

Jerry G: My first race car was a Winklemann Formula Ford. Later I drove a series of Formula B cars including a LeGrand, a Techno and a Brabham. I also had occasion to drive some sports cars including a Lotus, Alfa Romeo and Camaro.

What do you think was your most exciting moment in your racing career?

Jerry G: Believe it or not, my first day in driver’s school provided me with the most “shocking” moment. I could not believe how fast we were going on our slow orientation laps — it was so much faster than what I thought was fast in a street car.

Why did you stop racing and when?

Jerry G: I stopped racing when in 1971 as I could no longer afford to race and I was not good enough to be sponsored. It was also time for me to pursue a career.

How did you get into racing?

Jerry G: After I bought my MG I joined a sports car club. Many of the members were racers and as I made friends I was invited to come along for racing weekends. I was hooked. Joined the SCCA and went to driver’s school.

What tracks did you race at?

Jerry G: Bridgehampton, Lime Rock Park, Thompson, Bryar, Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway, Marlboro, Pocono and maybe a few others. If these names do not seem familiar to you it is because they are all on the east coast and many of them are no longer in existence.

What was your funniest experience when you were racing?

Jerry G: People used to laugh at me as I always took a nap between sessions. I took a lot of ribbing about being so relaxed.

Do you have any advice on how to become a race-car driver?

Jerry G: Go to one of the professional race driver’s schools. They were not in existence when I started; they are superior to SCCA schools and the best way to give it a try. Also, truly understand the commitment of time and money to even be an amateur.

What skills do you need to be a race-car driver?

Jerry G: Great eyesight and reflexes, competitiveness. An extraordinary “feel” for cars and machines. Some technical knowledge in either setting up a car or being able to communicate with your “mechanic/engineer”.

What did you do after racing?

Jerry G: Racing was only a hobby, I went on to pursue my career in technology — I am an applied physicist/electrical engineer with a Bachelors and two graduate degrees.  

What was your first street car?

Jerry G: My first street car was a black 1962 MGA Mark II.

You said that you  currently drive a Porsche 911.  What generation is it?

Jerry G: My Porsche — my fifth — is commonly referred to as a 911, also a Carrera. Technically it is a Type 993 — the last incarnation of the air-cooled cars.

Jerry is an officer in the local Porsche club.  Many of the tracks that he raced at are no longer in use or in existence.  Some of the tracks that Jerry raced at are the hardest and best-known in the country: Virginia International Raceway, Watkins Glen and Lime Rock Park.  I have plans to write a post on Virginia International Raceway and Richmond Speedway. 

Thanks again Jerry for being my first interviewee!!

3 thoughts on “A Racer’s Life

  1. Racing sounds cool. Isn’t there a race track in Petaluma just at the north shore of the SF Bay? I’d be interested to know who is racing there and what chance there is for a real amateur to learn racing on a real track.

    Nice interview.

  2. Hey Candler i love your website, i signed up for the email subscription so i will be able to see your most recent posts… right
    love your website,
    Yogi De Man

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