Already on his second successful career, Bobby Eberle races in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires as an athletic challenge.
Bobby Eberle isn’t the usual young gun seeking to make his way in racing that you find in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, or the other Mazda Road to Indy championships. Eberle is already on his second career as the successful founder of a political Web site. The racing is more about pushing himself and his next steps as an athlete.
Eberle competes in the Expert class of the Pro Mazda Championship, for drivers over age 30, and is leading the points in that division. For him, a lifelong athlete who competed in tennis before back surgery a few years ago, it’s the next mountain to conquer.
“I didn’t really know anything about the racing life; I just saw this as the next challenge,” he says. “Let’s get into racing and see how good we can be competing against the best young drivers out there. I went to racing school, and after that it’s a lot easier. It’s easy to find out step by step what you need to do to progress. I did Skip Barber, won the Masters Crown there. I wanted to stay in open wheel, so I decided on Formula Car Challenge, because that was a way to get experience in a Pro Mazda car but do it in a regional series. That was a lot lower budget and I could get some experience and seat time before I jumped into Pro Mazda.”
It seemed to work, because in his first full season in 2014, he won the Expert class. While he’d love to advance to Indy Lights, he says there are still some things for him to work on in Pro Mazda.
“We still need a couple of seconds, and I can feel that it’s coming, as far as looking at the data and seeing what we’re doing. I was looking at different stats, comparing last year to this year, and there have been 15 occasions so far this year when I’ve been higher on the time sheet than some of the younger, non-Expert drivers. That’s what I was looking for. Now I have to do it more consistently, and get top 10s. This season is about putting all the skills together so I can put down the fast lap. Right now, that hasn’t exactly materialized, even though our braking has gotten better, our acceleration points have gotten better, our hustle has gotten better,” he says.
Away from the track, Eberle is on his second career. His first was in aerospace engineering and, after spending some time working at NASA (the space agency, not the racing organization) he decided he wanted to be an astronaut and went to graduate school to earn his doctorate. It was while he was there that the seeds for his second career were planted.
“I needed a little break from the rigors of graduate school, and I decided to get involved in politics,” he explains. “I wanted to try make a difference. I had no idea it would take me down this whole new path. I volunteered on a local campaign, got involved in various other organizations. I was president of the Houston Republicans, and state chairman. When I was at graduate school was when Web browsers were starting to appear. If I wasn’t studying, I was looking at these Web browsers. So I thought it would be cool to put a Web site together, and it just started growing and growing until it became a full-time job. I quit engineering and decided to run the site. It’s been big thrill seeing it grow over the years and see it flourish like that.”
That Web site is GOPUSA.com, and its logo adorns the side of Eberle’s red-white-and-blue Pro Mazda. It’s one of the top conservative political news sites in the country, and the fact that he created it and runs it explains why he’s adept at using the internet and social media to get his message out; Eberle is one of the winners of Mazda and Cooper Tire’s social media contest, a different type of social media ace given that most MRTI competitors grew up with social media and he did not. Eberle did, however, embrace it.
“I love this stuff, and I love that Mazda and Cooper Tires put it together, because it’s kind of natural for me,” he says. “I’ve always been around this stuff. As Twitter slowly developed, I’d been on the computer and Facebook and these guys never knew anything but that. I love the idea of getting the message out through social media, because so many people use it as a news medium now.”
Eberle and the rest of the Pro Mazda Championship competitors will next be at Mid-Ohio this weekend, July 31-Aug. 2, along with the other Mazda Road to Indy Championships and the Verizon IndyCar Series.