Who is Kevin Kopp?

May 4, 2012
Kevin Kopp at speed in Virginia

Kevin Kopp came out of VIR third in F2000 Championship Series points. The rookie, coming out of karting and Spec Miata, was relatively unknown, in the Wisko F2000 entry, but had a trouble free weekend and stayed at the front of the field. Let’s ask him some questions…

Kevin, you gathered some attention at the first F2000 Championship race finishing both races in fourth position out of a very large field of 34 cars.  Given you are a rookie in this series, how did you manage to do so well?

To tell you the truth, we had low expectations coming to first race weekend.  The first race on Saturday was only the second time I had ever driven an open wheel race car, with the exception of karts it that counts. For the past six years I have been piloting a Spec Miata, and needless to say, a Miata and an F2000 are radically different cars to drive well, but I like to think I can adapt pretty quickly, and the F2000 Van Diemen is just an awesome car to drive.

I know you have done some pro racing before in the Mazda MX5 Cup series, how did you find your way to the F2000 Championship series?

I’m very fortunate to have been chosen by Wisko F2000 to drive and develop their Van Diemens.  This is an extraordinary opportunity for me to pair my driving ability with my engineering training and help a young organization come up to speed as fast as possible.

Wisko is a brand new team and we’re still trying to climb a very steep learning curve.  It is a testament to the team’s owner Peter Strasser and managing director Dan Torres that we were able to prepare and effectively race a car that had one weekend of testing.  I’m a fanatic about testing and preparation and we will be doing a great deal more testing as the season progresses.

Given the great start to the season for a rookie driver and a new team, can you continue to be successful?

We surprised ourselves with our performance at the first race weekend, but we have our work cut out for us as the season progresses.  Our qualifying performance was poor and needs to be improved, and there are a good many very fast drivers and excellent teams that suffered opening season mechanical problems that are likely to be sorted out by the next two races at Road Atlanta, so we are expecting the competition to increase considerably.  I’ve been racing since I was nine, in fact I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t racing.  Crazy or not, I have never started a race that I believed I could not win.  Once you lose that confidence it’s time to get out of the cockpit.

You stated you started in karting.  Can you tell me a little about that?

Sure.  Like most racers my age I started racing karts pretty early.  At nine I raced pavement ovals at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia.  You had to be there to appreciate the atmosphere.  The races didn’t last more than a few laps before kids were crashing into other kids.  I remember my dad having to break-up fights between other fathers.

As soon as I was 12 I moved to road racing with my dad.  He says he quit racing karts when I passed him at age 13 out at Summit Point.  From 12 to 16 we raced all over the east coast from New Hampshire to Daytona and as far west as Indianapolis. When it was all over I won four National titles. I still miss it – karting is pure racing.

How do you see the rest of the F2000 Championship series playing out for you and Wisko?

Well, I’m pretty optimistic.

Wisko F2000 has two brand new Van Diemens that are being prepped right now at the shops in Virginia.  Everything is fresh on these cars and they have the latest aero packages, which our 98 VD raced at VIR did not.

It’s not clear when the new cars will take the track, but we are looking forward to their introduction.

We will likely run the 98 VD at Road Atlanta and hope to continue to learn the car and improve our set-up skills.  If we can maintain our current position in the point standings after Road Atlanta we will have been very successful. As soon as we roll-out the new cars we’ll push hard to move up in the points.

Have you ever raced at Road Atlanta?

Road Atlanta is my most favorite track.  I raced on it the first time when I was 13 in a kart and then every year after in karts - it’s a scary track in a kart - and Spec Miatas.  Last year I managed to put our Miata on the podium in the American Road Race of Champions, but I have never driven the track in anything like the speed and handling of an F2000.  I’m really looking forward to that experience.