Bob Corliss Putting in the Work

April 28, 2015
Bob Corliss No. 17 Swift 014/Toyota

Just starting his second year in the Atlantic Championship Series is the No. 17 Comprent Motorsports driver Bob Corliss. CEO for a luxury clothing retailer as well as a prominent force on the track; Corliss made his 2015 debut at the first race of the season at Road Atlanta just a few weeks ago and made an impressive push for the podium, finishing second in the Atlantic Challenge category.

Corliss had nothing but good things to say about the Atlantic Championship, and his inaugural year. 

“Well I think in terms of the experience last year, it was great. Well run events, and class specific makes it great because you get to compete against people that are as dedicated to Formula Atlantic as I am. The whole experience was the best that I’ve had,” said Corliss. To sum it up Corliss finished with: “good drivers, good tracks, good camaraderie, it is just a good event.” 

Corliss was raised in Munich Germany; his father was American and his mother was German. He comes from a family that was very much involved in Formula 1 at a spectator level and owes his original interest in racing to that. 

“I was born and raised in Munich, between Munich, Germany and Madrid, Spain, my father was American and my mother was German. I grew up speaking multiple languages and the family was very much into Formula 1 in terms of a spectator sport, so we followed that pretty close as I grew up. I just had a natural affinity for racing because of that. I came back to the states to finish up college and ended up starting a career and kept that dream alive until a time that I was able to have the time and resources to get involved.”

Corliss started his motorsports career in F2000 and then made the switch to the Atlantic Championship. 

“I bought a Formula Continental (F2000 car), I had a number of high performance cars and motorcycles my whole life but just did some track days nothing really competitively until I started running continental in the southeast, which is where I lived in. Once I saw Atlantics I thought this is amazing, lets see if I can get one of these, one then became available and I bought it,” said Corliss. 

The hard work Corliss puts in the track is also very apparent in his day job. Corliss has been in the retail business, the athletic retail business more specifically, for quite some time now and has a very successful past; he is currently the CEO for the luxury men’s clothing company Robert Talbott.

“I have a long history in retail; I was president and CEO of Herman Sporting Goods Inc., and then CEO of The Athletes Foot. I have had a lot of time in and around sports. With the fashion business, we aren’t selling baseballs or athletic footwear but the basic skill sets are the same even though the market is different,” said Corliss. “Robert Talbott is a 65 year old company based in Monterey California that makes some of the worlds best men’s apparel and also produces about 130,000 cases of premium wine every year,” he continued. 

The connection with Robert Talbott and formula racing isn’t the most apparent one, but Corliss actually started his career with Robert Talbott through racing. 

“I got into it because of racing, I was at the track and I saw a guy racing a vintage Porsche, who had Robert Talbott racing on the windshield of his car. I knew the brand but I didn’t know about them with racing,” said Corliss 

A man by the name of Sam Jones greeted Corliss excitingly and explained that he represented the southeast for Robert Talbott, and then continued to say “you just paid for my weekend because I am going to sell you a shirt and a tie.” 

Corliss got to know Jones over the years and it developed into a career opportunity.

“He asked me about getting me into the company, and next thing you know I am running the business,” Corliss continued. 

Off the track Corliss can be seen behind the wheel of a 1959 Porsche 356A, as well as in a 2006 Carrera 4S. 

“It is very basic and visceral, not powerful or fast in the modern world but it really is a work of art and it’s just a great old car,” he commented on his 1959 Porsche. “In terms of pure enjoyment they are really awesome,” he later said. 

What does Bob Corliss want out of his 2015 season? Better lap times and to be able to work towards that podium. 

“I just want to improve on my record from my last year. I want to improve on my times first and foremost, and  then cross that finish line on Sunday. Comprent has done a great job getting the car ready and keeping my head on straight.”

Look for Bob Corliss in the No. 17 Comprent Motorsports Swift 014/Toyota at Watkins Glen in May. 

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