Melons' Better Driving recently had an exclusive interview with Mackenzie (or Mac, as he's better known) Korince, a Canadian racing driver and university student from Fort Erie, Ontario. Mac has been racing for several years, including several online races with the editor of this blog. It's been amazing to know him, and even more amazing to watch his success grow. The best part of knowing him, though, is a cheeky match of iRacing or Gran Turismo games... Well, until the editor rolled the MX-5 Cup car he was racing against Mac in. Oops.
Mac started his racing career (outside of simulations, this is) at the Skip Barber Racing School in Lime Rock Park, Connecticut. From there, he entered Skip Barber's racing school championship which took him all the way to Laguna Seca.
From there, his career really took off, with an endurance race at Road Atlanta (one of the tracks he has visited most frequently) in Braselton, Georgia, and some one-off appearances in SCCA club racing, before being swept into a Pirelli World Challenge seat in a B-Spec MINI Cooper.
Then, the floodgates opened as he had now hit an international stage, with the Pirelli World Challenge competition vaulting him into the Canadian Touring Car Championship with a little help from his family and friends. He took his first Canadian Touring Car Championship win very recently, at what could be called his home track, Calabogie Motorsports Park, in Calabogie, Ontario.
Q1: You've been racing for quite a few years at this point. When did your passion for cars really begin?
-Back when I was a kid, I remember my dad bringing home one of the original “Need for Speed” games and a Microsoft Sidewinder racing wheel, I spent countless hours driving around (and crashing, but I didn’t care) in Porsches, Mclarens, etc. and that really sparked my passion for cars. Like most kids, I was only into the supercars at that age, but as I grew older my tastes evolved and now I have an appreciation for just about every car in existence, even the Prius! My room is still full of model cars and posters, my desk is cluttered with Hot Wheels, my racing simulator sits up against the corner of my bed, and racing and car books make up the rest of the mess! I love anything to do with cars, driving them, working on them, talking about them, photographing them, reading about them, playing car video games, modifying cars, etc.
Q2: Do you attribute any of your racing talent to the practice and experience you gained from sim racing? Would you recommend sim racing to our younger readers looking to gain experience within racing?
-I had no karting experience prior to attending the Skip Barber Racing School in 2013, in fact I had only just learned to drive a manual transmission the week before the school so I had my work cut out for me. I played a lot of Gran Turismo and it was always my go to racer ever since the PS2 day with Gran Turismo 3, but a few months prior to the school I really got into more serious “sims” like Rfactor and iRacing. I spent countless hours racing online in iRacing and learning each time I played. I learned a lot of race craft, etc. but more importantly the countless laps I took around the virtual Limerock Park really eased my learning curve in the real car. I would recommend sim racing to anyone, even experienced racers because not only is it a valuable learning tool, it’s also a complete blast. However, relying solely on sim racing I wouldn’t recommend, as has been said a million times “in real life you can’t hit the reset button” but using a sim to learn a track and improve racecraft is something I would recommend to anyone.
Q3: How important would you say that time attack and qualifying laps are to racing talent? Can you still win if you qualify mid-to-rear of the field?
-Racing talent vs pure driving talent are two things that a lot of people seem to confuse. I know plenty of people who can turn insanely quick laps, but come race time they immediately fade because of a number of reasons, the most common seems to be lack of mental focus for long periods of time, and just not having the race craft to properly interact and challenge other drivers, they only know how to go fast on their own, not around other cars. I think you can still win if you don’t qualify near the front, when I first started I never qualified that well, but come race time I would always be in contention.
Q4: You began racing through Skip Barber racing school. Your instructors were very impressed with you. How much did you gain from them, which you didn't know before hand?
Q7: Which series, event, or racing type do you contribute most to your increasing success so far?
-I ran a race when I first started racing at Road Atlanta. It was an 8 hour endurance race and I shared a Spec Miata with two other drivers. We experienced everything in that race, I had to learn not only to manage traffic (passing slower cars and being passed by faster cars) but it was also only my third race ever and the car had no airflow in it, on a hot, humid Georgia day so you can imagine the amount of fatigue that set in after a two hour stint. It was so hot that my co-driver Drake Kemper claims that he threw up 7 times during the race. This race taught me a lot, adaptability, race craft, traffic management,
fatigue management, focus, etc. I owe a lot to this race, and I really want another crack at it. We managed to haul it up to 3rd place in class, when with 40 minutes left the transmission blew up. The disappointment still stays with me to this day..
Q8: Which event do you wish to participate in most, in the future?
-I’m not overly picky, I’ll take whatever comes my way. My dream has always been to race the Le Mans 24 hour, but I’ve also recently fallen in love with the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar race. Realistically, I’d like to race the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, or perhaps the Nurburgring 24 in one of the lower (less expensive..) classes.
Q9: Have you ever had a moment which has completely scared you? Perhaps something like a brake or suspension failure has caused you momentary fear?
-Nothing like that (knock on wood) but I did experience two things that scared me that happened to my fellow competitors. The first one happened in early 2015, driving the Mini at Sebring and on the first lap going into the hairpin, one of the faster class cars towards the back had a big accident. I’m still not sure what caused it, all I know is I thought I just witnessed someone lose their life. The car went into the tire wall so hard and with such force that it was almost unrecognizable, it came spearing back across the track after doing a pirouette in the air and just narrowly missed me and my teammates. My teammate Ryan and I had to swerve hard right into the grass, and Travis just narrowly missed it taking his front end completely off. The driver was fine luckily, but still very scary. Another happened recently, it was during an SCCA race at the new PITT track in Pittsburgh, the entire weekend was plagued by terrible weather (including snow in May) and on top of that some “questionable” decisions by a few individuals. Anyways, the race was a mess as the weather was terrible; a car broke down in a fast part of the course and it took the recovery crew several laps to retrieve the car, ultimately doing this while still under racing conditions, only displaying a local yellow. I remember radioing my dad saying “they need to double yellow this or something bad will happen”, and sure enough something dad. I came around a lap after saying that to find a car had left the racing surface and had hit the tow truck on scene, I feared the worst but again, luckily everyone turned out to be okay
Q10: Do you believe in sports psychology being a huge benefit to racing drivers? Can things like visualization, goal setting, confidence-management and energy-management help? What percentage of your practice time or effort is put towards the mental side of racing?
-Those that realize early on that racing is about so much more than driving will do much better than those who don’t. Like any other competition, preparing is huge in order to get the best out of yourself and ensure you are 100% come race day. I’ll be the first to admit I neglect my fitness and that this needs to change, but I regularly practice all that you mentioned and I’d say I’m fairly grounded when it comes to it all.
Q11: What's your idea of an extremely fun to drive car? Is it a tricky, difficult to drive car, a well-setup car, or a very grippy, fast car? In other words, do you prefer something which is hard to drive? This is a spot of discussion for many people, and an issue we will discuss in a few articles within the next few months, in interviewing other people and racing drivers, to find if there is a general consensus among certain crowds, or whether the preferences are sporadic and inconsistent.
-Something that wins me races obviously! Honestly though, I think each car has its own unique quirks that make it fun to drive and that’s what I enjoy. If I had to pick however, I’d say a grippy, fast car as it makes my job easier and ultimately allows me to focus on racing and not on keeping the car on track. That being said, in a lot of the front wheel drive cars, we try and make the rear end rotate a little more than we would in a rear wheel drive car, the myth is that you want the back-end to be completely loose, but we’ve found with a little higher starting tire pressures in the back and minimal camber and toe compared to the front, that the back-end will rotate nicely, but not over-rotate and become a handful or slow.
Q12: Do you believe that it is important for racing drivers and sportsmen in general to have good family connections and so on? What roles do your family and friends play in racing?
Editor's Thoughts: Mac's career seems to be one of great potential, for he is already following the success of drivers like Kuno Wittmer and Pierre Kleinubing. These names would not mean much, however, without the support of local club racing to really make it possible for people who aren't millionaires to make their way into racing. Mac makes a great point when he mentions that club racing is still racing. We believe that club racing barely gets the credit nor attention that it really deserves. Having said that, though, we especially endorse the notion that any car can be fun to race, if it's given the right competition, the right driver, and the right team. The atmosphere of club racing is not one which values car above all else. Typically, the best driver will shine through in club racing. I'd imagine that this notion of the best driver shining through is exactly why Mac Korince is a rising star of motorsports right now. Clearly, he's fast enough to win, but also has the spirit to satisfy sponsors looking for an awesome representative to endorse their brand.
Andrew Geier is an accomplished automotive enthusiast, with 15 years of automotive experience. At age 22, he created Melons' Better Driving in an effort to make people rethink the automotive world with insightful vision and articles about the future of the automotive culture and all of its subcultures, including motorsports. Seen in the site's background image, examining a road which was torn up by rally cars with his friends, his passion is clearly demonstrated by his excited pose.