It was just supposed to be a weekend hobby. But for Corey Lewis, who helped K-PAX Racing to its fourth Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS Team Championship in 2021, his vision transcended beyond his wildest dreams and into 23 proven years in racing – to the professional ranks and to the status as one of sports car racing’s elite.
Lewis, a Nazareth, Penn. native, grew up as a typical, wide-eyed kid in an atypical family trade – from playing around the neighborhood emulating and tagging along with his older brother to helping his family raise 50-60 alpaca to show across the nation. Sheering alpacas and helping around the barn proved to be a chore in a family hobby that stemmed from an airplane magazine you would find in the seat-back pocket of the vessel. But another, more familiar curiosity caught Lewis’s attention – with the help from a neighbor and household name across the racing community.
Lewis will co-drive the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO in “The Racing Capital of the World,” as the Intercontinental GT World Challenge Powered by Pirelli brings a record-setting field October 15-17 to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for eight hours of action. Alternatively known as “The Brickyard,” the speedway encapsulates some of racing’s most memorable moments and with that has enshrined and defined the careers of many drivers. The Andretti family is not only one of the most recognizable names in motorsports and at the legendary Midwestern gem, but it is also a family that helped Lewis early in his career.
Lewis always had a sense of speed and adrenaline – from quads and bikes around the farm. But it was not until Marco Andretti’s first go-kart race in Flemington, N.Y. that he started to consider the possibility of hopping in one himself. He was “bit by the bug” watching Marco, and within a few months, his parents surprised him in the garage. For seven-year-old Lewis, it was an unforgettable moment seeing a kart of his own – a red and yellow bodied kart with a black nose, and the same chassis and motor combination of Marco’s. Lewis first touched rubber to road at Oakland Valley Race Park in Cuddebackville, N.Y., and his success saw him back at the course and others more frequently as he steadily progressed.
“It wasn’t every weekend when we first started, but as we started to progress and get results, we became more consistent and successful,” said Lewis, who continued competing even after his brother. “It was something I remember talking to my parents about at the dinner table after my first year, like ‘Hey, we’re doing pretty good. Maybe it’s something we could turn into a more regular basis.’”
One fond memory Lewis had in his early beginnings was heading to a local parking lot in town with his dad, setting up cones to learn all the basics of his kart. Lewis honed in the fundamentals under the guidance and motivation from his family and the Andretti’s, being crowned the Stars of Karting Regional Champion in 2002, and second two years later in the World Karting Association National Series. Marco, Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti recommended that Lewis progress into open-wheel at the Skip Barber Racing School, where he continued his path to racing stardom.
“I’ll never forget it: I got a hammy-down care package from one of Marco’s rookie years in IndyCar, and he gave me a bunch of old Nomex, shoes and gloves and an old racing suit to wear because I didn’t have anything,” Lewis said. “I still have it, and that’s something I’ll save. It’s always a cool piece to look back on with all the other memorable suits I’ve obtained over the years – up-front and center.”
While Lewis continued to find his footing in racing, there were times he was challenged. In those times, he was seeking advice from not only Marco – who emphasized “embracing the bad, enjoying the good but always moving forward” – but also from his driving coach at Skip Barber, Grant Maiman. He kept a level head and kept pushing.
“Growing up, you find yourself trying to download information from anybody,” Lewis said. “When you have the Andretti family, you’d be silly not to listen. I remember when I was progressing through my open-wheel career, I had a driving coach Grant Maiman. I’ll never forget the times we worked together, and how much I progressed working with him. We worked on racecraft and the mental aspect of things, and to me, that hit home.”
“We’d play stick-and-ball sports and my dad was an awesome coach that always stood by [my brother and I]. His knowledge of the game was so insightful and no matter what he said, I’d do – if he told me to run to this point, I would. Fast-forward: Having the Andretti family there, you do exactly what they say. You progress forward and meet Grant, whose experience and tricks he’d play – you download that. Like any good coach, he pushes you to a level you couldn’t even imagine. They understand your ability and try to make you better.”
Lewis ultimately took his success into the sports car world, and in 2013, earned his first victory in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Indianapolis. He would go on to play an integral part with Lamborghini, winning the 2015 Lamborghini Super Trofeo PRO-AM World Championship and becoming one of the series’ most successful drivers in its history. Now, Lewis gives back as a development driver for some of Lamborghini’s rising stars in Super Trofeo.
“I’ve had a lot of time in Super Trofeo – won a lot of races and championships – and now I’m the teacher, right?” said Lewis, connecting the dots full-circle. “I think it’s really cool that I can teach what I know about these cars and about racing to give back to kids who are aspiring to do what I did to get here today. To give it back is something special and it’s invaluable. Whether it’s a future driver in the sport or a fan – I was there. I was that kid walking with my family around the paddock, and I always gravitated toward the guys that were open and friendly. I want to be that guy who’s open. It comes full circle – it’s everything.”
Lewis joined K-PAX Racing in its transition to Lamborghini in the 2021 season, helping guide the multi-championship winning team with his knowledge and experience of the Huracán GT3 EVO. Lewis teamed up with Giovanni Venturini for the GT World Challenge America season, where they will battle for runner-up in the points championship with help from fellow Lamborghini driver Marco Mapelli.
“Corey has a lot of experience here in America, so during the season, I learned a lot from him about the tracks – and faster,” Venturini said. “He also has a lot of experience with the car, and it’s helped us create a competitive package for each race. I think we have achieved great results this season, and I’m excited to see what happens in Indy.”
The driver pairing of Lewis and Venturini proved to be successful throughout the season, as it collected nine podiums, including one victory in 12 rounds. Their season-long performance helped K-PAX Racing to its fourth team championship since 2016, and also added to Lamborghini’s clinch of a manufacturers’ title in the series.
“Corey is a very big asset to our program,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “I’ve known Corey for several years, and I’ve admired what he’s done. It was valuable to have him here when we started the switch from our previous manufacturer to Lamborghini, because Corey knows the car and has driven all the tracks stateside. He was very instrumental in providing us with quick feedback, and he’s been helpful to the other drivers as well that haven’t driven most of these tracks. He has offered a great starting point for everybody.”
While Lewis prepares for one of the biggest races of the season, he still retraces his roots back to Nazareth. It is where his love for motorsports started, surrounded by the foundational pieces that helped jump-start his success seen more than two decades later – and counting. Usually, as the leaves start to fall, the racing season winds down. But when the snow hits the ground, there is one more race Lewis must prepare for when he comes home – at “The Ice Oval.”
“Every winter, Marco has a circular driveway – a nice little oval we called “The Ice Oval,” Lewis said. “He purposely doesn’t plow it and we’ll race anything from quads to go-karts – anything we can get our hands on. The competitive nature between all us drivers in town, you sometimes work yourself harder than what you would at an actual racetrack. You’re bumping fenders and just laughing. Some of those moments are just hard to describe.”
“Looking back to see how far we’ve come from growing up on an alpaca farm to now competing professionally with the top team in the paddock, K-PAX Racing, and racing for Lamborghini – mainly stateside but we’ve done the overseas and have seen success. Like how? How the heck did we get here? My dad and I are both sentimental people and we sit back at times after race weekends – good or bad – and are just thankful that we’re ‘in the show.’ It’s wild to know how far we’ve come, but also know that I have goals and dreams I’m still chasing. I don’t take this for granted, and every time I’m in the car, it’s my absolute best.”
Source. K-Pax Racing