Devin Wojcik’s story begins, as so many do, with a phone call.
After a successful karting career and a USF2000 test with ArmsUp Motorsports, the 16-year-old New Yorker had returned to high school – where he competes on the varsity crew [rowing] team – when ArmsUp team manager Brent Borland called his parents to see if the youngster was interested in joining the team at Road America last August.
Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires management and INDYCAR registration quickly managed the paperwork and Wojcik made his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debut.
Wojcik details how an early growth spurt ended his karting days, the phone call that changed the direction of his racing and the alternate career choice he shares with Mazda Prototype driver and series driver coach Joel Miller.
MRTI: Tell us about growing up in upstate New York.
WOJCIK: I grew up really close to my family – my mom’s whole family lives in the Syracuse area. As a kid, I loved riding bikes. Being outside and racing on my bike was my favorite thing. The exhilaration of going as fast as I could was great. There was also a hill next to my house where we would snowboard and ski during the winter. Naturally, I would race all my friends down the hill.
MRTI: What first got you interested in racing?
WOJCIK: I always wanted to be a race car driver but as a kid you don’t know how that’s possible. I was introduced to karting by a family friend’s brother. He’d raced all his life and was looking for kids to bring along through the karting ranks so I went down to a local track and started racing when I was 11. It was just cool to be in a car at such a young age! I won my first race and that helped convince me to continue the pursuit. That and seeing my face when I got off the track really helped to convince my mom as well. Even though she knew the dangers – and it was kind of scary for her – she knew it was what I wanted to do. She and my dad have really helped me develop my career.
MRTI: Take us through your racing career to date.
WOJCIK: When I won that local race, it was fuel to the fire. I knew I could be successful at the local track and I wanted to see how far I could push it. I went up through the karting ranks but I was pretty tall for my age – I was 6’ and 165 lbs. when I made the transition to Skip Barber. I was not small enough to continue with junior karting so the decision was either to move to senior karting or move up to cars. Since I knew that racing cars was the end goal, I decided to do it sooner rather than later. I did a couple schools and then did well in the (Skip Barber) Karts to Cars Shootout. My parents saw that I had potential, so I did the (Skip Barber) Winter Series, where I came in third in a title fight that went right to the last weekend.
MRTI: What got you interested in the Mazda Road to Indy and the USF2000 series?
WOJCIK: After the Karts to Cars Shootout, I started getting emails from USF2000 teams about testing. I answered Brent from ArmsUp Motorsports and that’s really where it started. As soon as I tested early last year, I knew that’s where I wanted to go next.
I already knew the track and had some fond memories as I did my first race in a car at Road America with Skip Barber. The team called my parents and told them I had a spot if I wanted it. I was in awe. It was so surreal. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. But then, we had to get all the licensing done in just a couple of days. We drove out there not knowing if it would happen or not, just hoping and praying that everyone would do their part to help me, and when we went to credentials, everything had been filed.
It was such a big weekend with the record crowds for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Road America. So for me to be just a couple of feet away from all the teams was really awesome. I’ve looked up to those guys all my racing career. I was happy with the on-track results, as was the team. We kept in contact, because my parents and I knew we wanted to go with them in 2017. We signed with them and my 2017 season started at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test. I was able to drive the new car, even though ArmsUp had only had the car for a week before the test. To put together a car that no one had ever seen before and to do it in just a week was one thing: to have it run fast was another. The team did a great job and it was a huge step of reassurance going into 2017.
MRTI: What are your expectations for 2017?
WOJCIK: This is still my rookie year, so I don’t want to put pressure on. We’ll develop the car further and see how far we can get. My main expectation is that I will give it my all. Being in the car and doing what I love is so important, but I’m also looking forward to the travel and getting the chance to meet and connect with new people. There are so many resources out there in USF2000 and the Mazda Road to Indy and that will be huge for my career.
MRTI: What kind of activities do you do away from the race car?
WOJCIK: I am on my high school crew team, which is another big time commitment. At least it’s another racing sport. We had crew this past fall and during the winter. I linked my training with the crew team with my training with PitFit to dial in my fitness the best I could. I’m grateful to have a coach who’s a car guy and who understands where I’m going. That’s the only way I could do it.
I’m also earning my Eagle Scout badge in Boy Scouts – I have some great leaders there who help me as well. My Eagle Scout project is building a shed for a local veterans group, so that’s going to be big as well.
MRTI: What is your favorite racetrack?
WOJCIK: It’s between Road America and Sebring. I usually don’t like flat tracks, so having Sebring on the list is kind of interesting! I like elevation changes at places like Road America.
MRTI: If I wasn’t driving a race car, I'd be ___________________________.
WOJCIK: I’d be focusing on mechanical engineering and business. I’d probably still try to be in the motorsports industry somehow. I’d want to do something in the car industry, like starting my own race team.
MRTI: Do you have a “hidden” talent?
WOJCIK: I love to work on cars. I have a 1995 Ford Ranger which is not old, but it’s old enough to need a rebuild. It was my grandfather’s truck, so it has a lot of sentimental value.
MRTI: What do you do to relax and get away from racing?
WOJCIK: I love working out, so even though it’s geared toward racing, it’s getting away from actually racing. But I’m always thinking about racing!