Windsor race car driver living life in the fast lane at Daytona

Windsor race car driver living life in the fast lane at Daytona

A Windsor racing driver will race at Daytona.

Roman De Angelis is racing with the Heart of Racing Team in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in this weekend’s Daytona 24 Hours, a 24-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. .

But the path for the 21-year-old began a long time ago.

De Angelis began racing go-karts when he was eight years old before transitioning to sports cars when he was 14. From a very young age, De Angelis knew he wanted to participate in drag racing.

“That’s what I was most exposed to growing up,” he said. “I really enjoyed the endurance aspect. It was very different to what was common; single-driver drag racing like Formula 1, NASCAR or IndyCar.”

A racing driver without the top half of his racing suit
Roman De Angelis is a racing driver from Windsor who will be competing in this year’s Daytona 24 Hours with the Heart of Racing Team. (Racing Team Heart)

His father, Max De Angelis, helped foster his interest in drag racing from a very young age.

“When Roman was 6 or 7 years old, we would watch the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” he said. “We’d clean out the family room and get sleeping bags and pillows and watch those kinds of races.”

As he got older, Max said that he would support his son’s racing career as long as he kept his grades up. Roman made good on his part of the deal and is about to finish his last semester in mechanical engineering at the University of Windsor. Max said that he can’t help but marvel at his son’s determination.

“We spend a lot of time together on the road,” Max said. “Roman has even been traveling alone since he was 12 years old, having to go to and from the race tracks if I couldn’t make it. Juggling travel, racing, school, life, family and friends, It’s quite remarkable what he’s been able to accomplish this from the beginning of his life.”

A car race on a race track
Roman De Angelis taking part in a race in 2022. De Angelis is a racing driver from Windsor who will compete in this year’s Daytona 24 Hours with the Heart of Racing Team. (Racing Team Heart)

Roman has enjoyed a successful racing career thus far, having finished third in the GTD class championship in the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship, North America’s most prestigious drag racing series. Last year, he won the drivers’ championship. His points run also helped the Heart of Racing Team win the GTD class team championship last year.

His co-drivers for this season include Marco Sørenson and Darren Turner, drivers who have been successful in the world’s biggest endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Roman said this gives his team a huge advantage.

“I’m with the most experienced line-up on the grid,” he said. “I’m definitely the one with little experience, but I think having guys like that on the team with me is a great benefit to further my learning and learn from them.”

A racing car going through a corner on a race track
Roman De Angelis is a racing driver from Windsor who will be competing in this year’s Daytona 24 Hours with the Heart of Racing Team. (Racing Team Heart)

His fourth co-driver is Ian James, the team manager. Despite running alongside his boss, Roman said he carries no pressure.

“We have a very good relationship,” he said. “He’s the one who put us in the position we’re in right now. He’s more of a friend than a boss right now.”

James also appreciates having Roman on the team.

“In the last couple of years, it’s been going from strength to strength,” James said of Roman. “He becomes more and more successful after each race and is now one of the best sports car drivers.”

Two racing drivers with Michelin caps raising their index fingers
Roman De Angelis, right, celebrating with former teammate Ross Gunn. (Racing Team Heart)

Despite the vast experience of his teammates, Román set the team’s fastest time of 1:47.088 in qualifying. While that alone was enough for the team to start seventh in class, he is optimistic about making up places during the race.

“Passing seven cars is not a great feat for that amount of time,” Roman said. “It’s a very good place to start. [It’s] far enough to keep you out of the chaos at first and you don’t have a lot of ground to make up.”

Roman said he hopes to finish in the top five this weekend.

A racing driver without the top half of his racing suit
Roman De Angelis is a racing driver from Windsor who will be competing in this year’s Daytona 24 Hours with the Heart of Racing Team. (Racing Team Heart)

“They are big points for the season and a great way to start the year,” he said.

Going forward, Roman said he wants to continue competing in drag racing. Although he admitted that he wants to compete in Europe, he won’t be heading there anytime soon.

“I am very happy where I am within the team,” he said. “They have a lot of plans for the future and I hope to be involved in all of them.”

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