Minden resident Kyle Gimple making mark in racing | NevadaAppeal.com

Minden resident Kyle Gimple making mark in racing

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

The Carson City area has had its share of talented racing drivers over the years.

Most have remained local, but a few have spread their wings and competed in regional or even national racing series. One such racer is Minden resident and Manogue graduate Kyle Gimple, who's racing the No. 75 Audi S3 for Compass 360 Racing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), the series is a 10-race professional circuit that competes nationwide at tracks such as Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Circuit of the Americas, and other famous road courses. Gimple will be racing next in the IMSA event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey on May 1-3.

Gimple and his racecar will be at the Audi Reno Tahoe dealership Saturday from 10 a.m. until mid-afternoon for a public meet and greet. Coffee and donuts will be provided in the morning, with a catered lunch in the afternoon. The dealership is located at 9191 South Virginia Street. Attendees will be able to talk with Kyle and get an up close and personal look at the Audi S3 racecar.

At 23, Kyle is in his fifth consecutive season in the Continental Tire series. It's his third season with the Compass 360 racing team, but his first year driving the Audi S3. The team campaigned a pair of Honda Civics the past two years, and Kyle finished second in the ST class championship in 2013. He went on to score three race wins in 2014 at Watkins Glen, Circuit of the Americas, and Road Atlanta, where he won from the pole. Honda's entry into Formula One this year meant a cutback in support for the Civic program, hence the switch to Audi. Kyle says unlike NASCAR's "stock" cars, the Audi came straight from the dealership. "The car was stripped, roll cage put in, and some suspension tweaks were added, but the motor and transmission are stock," he said.

The one problem area discovered at Sebring was the brakes.

"The ABS interferes with the kind of braking you need to do in a race, but we're working on a fix," Kyle stated, noting a scheduled test at Virginia International Raceway to work on the issue.

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Because the team is the first to campaign an Audi S3, IMSA is still looking at how the series rules are applied to the car. The Audi's debut at Sebring was cut short when Gimple's co-driver was caught up in an accident early in the race, ending their day. The team's sister car went on to finish 13th in class.

"I was running a second a lap faster than the team car in practice, so I think we would have had a good finish if we hadn't had the accident," he said.

Gimple is a 15-year racing veteran, starting at eight years of age in a kart. With several years of experience progressing through the ranks of ever faster karting classes, he decided to make racing a career and switched to cars.

After attending driving schools, Gimple finished third in the 2008 Skip Barber Western Regional Championship, winning Rookie of the Year honors. The following year he won the series championship, scoring six wins and 11 podium finishes in 12 races. His obvious talent led to a ride in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge series, where he finished fifth in 2010. In 2011 he moved to the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series, also driving a Mustang. He drove for two teams in 2012, racing a Mini Cooper S for RJR Motorsports and a Mazda MX-5 for CJ Wilson Motorsports. His best finish that year was fifth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This experience led to the ride with Compass 360 and the past two successful seasons.

When he's not racing, Gimple has been working as a driving instructor at the Skip Barber Racing School at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. His experience at the track should give him an advantage as the series moves to the track on May 1-3. If you visit Audi Reno Tahoe on Saturday to meet Gimple, be sure to enter the raffle drawing for two three-day passes to the Laguna Seca IMSA races. The passes are provided courtesy of Bayless & Associates, Certified Public Accountants of Carson City.

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