Through The Esses - Rob Bunker Wants A Fast Education
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© Andrew S. Hartwell

Rob Bunker is 19 years old and looking to build a racing resume that mirrors that of some of the best in the sport. He admires the career that Tony Stewart has made for himself, running cars in a variety of series, and he is keeping an open mind about how to best capture the flavor - and more importantly, the experience - of participating in just about any race series he can. It is his ambition to go into each new adventure with his mind open to what he can learn there, and then take those lessons and apply them towards making his next drive better than his last.

Rob Bunker equates seat time with education and he wants to get all the seat time - in any seat, in any car - that he can, so that his education advances quickly. Racers like to go fast, even in a classroom on wheels.

Like many of today's young drivers, Bunker started out in karting at the age of nine. Actually, he first did a few laps and decided racing wasn't what he wanted to do. But with some encouragement from his father, Chip Bunker - a former kart racer - he gave it a second try a few days later and this time the squeal-appeal of racing took hold for good.

After several successful seasons in karting, including three national World Karting Association wins and two regional class championships, he moved into a four-race stint in the Formula TR Pro Racing Series. This was to be the start of a very educational apprenticeship working closely with the very versatile and professional driver and coach Ross Bentley. Through this personal association, and the application of the techniques espoused in Bentley's Speed Secrets program (and books of the same name), Bunker was able to begin taking great strides in his journey to learn what it takes to be fast on a race track.

I'm very open to running in almost anything with an engine. I would love to get into sportscars and higher horsepower rides. I'd love to run in a Daytona Prototype but I don't want to get focused on just one series or type of car. We are even going to be testing in a midget soon. I am absolutely open to everything. I want to be as broad a racing driver as I can be. I want to try and get in everything because, what I have learned is that I can mix what I learn in each series and apply it towards a really good run in whatever car I am running in next.

For example, we ran in the Star Mazda race during the Petit Le Mans Weekend at Road Atlanta. We were third fastest unfortunately we had some car trouble and fell back. This race was a one off, just to see if what we learned in ARCA could be used in another type of car. We definitely found that we could apply the lessons learned. There was a time when the Star Mazda car was the most powerful car I had ever driven. I would feather the gas pedal through a corner and watch the power to keep control. But after driving an ARCA car, with almost three times as much horsepower, the Star Mazda suddenly didn't seem all that fast. The things that would surprise me last year in Star Mazda I had come to expect this time. I felt I knew what to expect and how to react accordingly.

I am trying to stay on the top of my game. I am interested in doing just about any kind of racing. I'd love to try doing a couple of truck races and I'm very interested in sportscars too.

The burning desire to be a great driver is certainly contained within him. But in the beginning, that fire needed to be lit more than once before it broke out into the blazing spirit it has become.

My first time in a competitive kart, after about ten minutes, I decided I didn't want to race. But in my second try I found I actually really liked it. My dad and I got a kart and we started racing in a karting series. Within the first year we started winning races and the following year we won a local championship. My dad has been into kart racing for a long time. My mom has always been very supportive too. We also had a lot of help at our local trac