Heavy Metal Affliction 1995 Pontiac Trans Am
Somehow when you are good at something it finds its way to you. Call it fate, call it destiny or just call it following your dream. When we find the path that makes every moment more worthwhile, happiness and success follow.
If you want something you have got to make it happen. Very few are lucky enough to just have success land in their lap. It takes drive, it takes focus, and it takes a plan. This is the story of Ken Kurtz—Gamertag FMS Peakskir. Kurtz is a three-time USTCC(US Touring Car Championship) GT champion, and is on his way to another successful year driving his 1995 Pontiac Trans Am racecar. Kurtz also races in the WERC(Western Endurance Racing Championship) Prior to dominating the USTCC –GT Class Kurtz achieved winning championships in the:
- 2005 Mazda PRO7 Series
- 2007 WERC ‘E2’ Series
- 2007 Mazda Spec Miata
- 2008 Super Unlimited Series
- 2009 Super Touring 1 Series
- 2010 WERC ‘E2’
So, to say Kurtz has skills is an understatement. If you want to see how you match up against a driver of his caliber, try beating his time at Infineon Long – his favorite track– in this month’s “Heart of a Champion” Rivals event. As of today he is #27 among over 12,000 players. Yes, his driving skills carry over to Forza Motorsport. We are also hosting a design Ken’s racecar livery contest, a tuning contest, and Kurtz is even offering an opportunity to submit designs to remake his real race car livery. Check out the main thread here.
Kurtz grew up on computer games and as a youth even evaluated video games for Atari, as in the Atari 2600. This led him to a career in computing. When his friends were working in the mall, Kurtz was a computer technician. He is now an engineer for a successful high-tech firm and has been for the last 14 years. This gives him a flexible work schedule to accommodate his real-world race career. He has been a player in the world of Forza Motorsport since its initial release and plays about 10-12 hours a week these days. He mostly plays in online lobbies because “he loves the competition.” Aside from his Rivals mode you can usually find him circuit racing in the ABC’s and stock classes. Kurtz loves racing in any form and his drive to succeed makes him a tough competitor. Kurtz puts it like this, “I’m incredibly driven, failure is just motivation to try harder, work harder, and push more to achieve my goals. There is nothing I think I can’t do, provided I set my mind to do it. That confidence is a powerful thing for me, because I know that no matter what I challenge myself with, I can obtain the knowledge, ability, or put together the right people to achieve any goal.“
Kurtz began racing at age eight in go-karts, and recently participated in a 12-hour endurance go-kart race in Las Vegas. Having spent a little time in a kart I can’t even imagine how rough a 12 hour stint would be. Kurtz told me he could feel the effects of the endurance race and that “Advil was his friend.” Kurtz is tough, and even played semi-pro football. After a number of years playing ball he hung up his cleats to save his body. During his time playing ball he was also involved in motorsports doing VIP track events for companies like Hotchkiss Performance, Baer Brakes, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, and more. Kurtz has always been fast, since those early days in go-karts and opportunities to drive always come his way, whether he is searching for them or not.
In 2004 a friend asked him to drive his racecar in the Mazda Pro-7 Series for the 2005 season. Kurtz was itching to get back behind the wheel having just wrapped up his football career. The consummate racer in him was rearing to go; “I think I said yes, before he finished his sales pitch to get me to race for him. We had to convince my wife though. That wasn’t nearly as easy a sell.” After some convincing Kurtz’s wife agreed to allow for this and even volunteered to work on the safety teams.
In Kurtz’s first race he finished in the top ten, then sat out a race due to a mechanical failure, then went on to win the next ten races and his first Pro7 championship. That performance lead to his first race at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Evil Genius Racing.
The next season, 2006 saw Kurtz racing a split season, half in Pro7 and half in Mazda Spec Miata. (Both of those race car designs can be found on the storefront, look for Kurtz’s designer Big Daddy 5637.) He finished fourth in both championships. Deciding to focus on one car, Kurtz campaigned the Miata for 2007 and went on to win his second championship in Mazda Spec Miata.
Always striving for more and driven to hit his stretch goals, Kurtz set his sights on the USTCC Super Unlimited class and went to work building his street car, a 1995 Pontiac Trans Am, into a race car. His first season racing the T/A in Super Unlimited he brought home the championship. For2009 he switched to Super Touring due to rules changes and brought home the ST1 and GT Trophies. His success on the track continued in 2010 winning the WERC E2 class and his second USTCC GT championship. With the T/A utterly dialed in, Kurtz dominated the 2011 USTCC season taking his third GT Class championship in a row, taking second in the WERC and taking third overall at the U.S. Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
2012 has been a challenge for Kurtz but he is still in the lead for the USTCC championship in points, despite some mechanical issues. Kurtz also campaigns a BMW M3 in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill which takes place December 8-9. The car is undergoing a massive upgrade to increase performance and lower time in the pits. Keep an eye out for this car in a future edition of Heavy Metal Affliction. For more information on the upcoming race check out the NASA 25 Hour site.
Next week Heavy Metal Affliction will present an interview with Kurtz as well as some killer in-car video and more photos.
Check out these photos!
Ken Kurtz would like to thank his partners who sponsor his racecar. Without them much his accomplishments would not be possible.
Like Ken Kurtz on Facebook to stay up to date with his latest racing. You can also follow Kurtz on Twitter and watch his videos on Vimeo and YouTube.
If you would like to discuss Ken Kurtz's car or this Heavy Metal Affliction please do so in the HMA thread.
If you have a car you would like to share with the community and possibly be featured in Heavy Metal Affliction post about it in the request for community rides thread. If you already submitted your story, check your PM's. I have reached out to several new candidates and have not heard back.