Texas professional and historic racer Charles Nearburg has a long and diversified motorsport resume. At the profession level, he’s competed in everything from Super Vee and Toyota Atlantic to Le Mans and Champ cars, while even breaking the Land Speed Record for piston-powered, wheel-driven vehicles at 414.316 mph along the way. Most recently, Nearburg has been a winning competitor in the The Masters Historic Formula One and sports car championships.
Your best day in motor racing?
“Probably my first professional podium. That came on the Mile Oval at Nazareth in the Bosch Super Vee championship. I finished second that day in a really challenging race. And, of course, setting the big FIA Land Speed Record in 2011 at Bonneville was epic. The record we broke had been on the books for 45 years! The Spirit of Rett Streamliner still holds the fastest FIA normally aspirated record in history at 414 mph, with a top speed of 422 mph.”
And your worst?
“A Player’s Toyota Atlantic Championship test day on the Phoenix International Speedway one-mile oval in a Swift DB4. I was trading fastest time all day with Jimmy Vasser and then, as I was told later, I hit the wall in Turn 2 at about 160mph and was helicoptered to the hospital. I woke up the next morning wondering where the hell I was… I didn’t break anything, but the Swift’s supertough kevlar aluminium honeycomb tub was fully broken. I was so sore all over that I could barely move for three days and had to stay close to the hospital in Phoenix.”
You’ve raced at Le Mans, in Champ Cars and in Toyota Atlantic, and also set a land speed record ten years ago. How did the switch to historic racing come about?
“I didn’t have the time or desire to do a full series anymore, but I still wanted to go racing. I’ve always had a huge appreciation of the history of motorsports, and it’s a great opportunity to race the cars you grew up with and always dreamed of racing.”
Can you remember your first-ever Masters event?
“Before Ron bought that US series I did quite a lot of successful racing with Historic Grand Prix with my ex-Alan Jones Williams FW07B. In Europe, I had a March 761B and I think it was a Masters European meeting in 2011. We had an engine problem in the March 761, so I wasn’t even able to finish the second practice session. Not fun! It was balanced out by a podium in my Lola T212 sports car though!”