Every young go kart racer dreams of one day competing in a professional racing series. That dream is coming to fruition for 16-year-old California native, Christian Brooks. A rookie Red Bull Global Rally Cross Lites competitor, Brooks racing history goes back a decade. “When I was 6 years old my parents started MB2 Raceway Indoor Karting. I raced at MB2 all the time and I was fast! All the guys from Pitts Performance would come in and race and they got me started racing kid kart in the LAKC and IKF Region 7 Championship series. In 2010, I raced for Tony Kart West and thats where I met Seth Nash and Chris Freckleton they have both been my driver coach’s and mentors ever since. I am currently racing for Nash Motorsportz and Factory CRG,” Brooks said.
In the sport of karting, drivers are able to race in faster karts as they get older. Christian worked his way up through the national ranks of karting in various karts and classes. “I have raced Kid Kart, Cadet, Tag Jr., S5, Tag Sr., Rotax Mini Max, Rotax Junior Max, Rotax Sr. Max, X30. I will also be making my S1 debut this season in SKUSA Pro kart and Pro Tour,” he stated. In American karting the premier classes are Rotax Sr. Max, X30 Senior, and S1. Christian has had no problem holding his own in every class he’s competed in. “I am most proud of being the 2011 Rotax Mini Max Grand National Champion, and winning the 2015 Skusa Pro Kart Tag Senior Championship division in my Sr. rookie season!” Christian went on to add to his already impressive list of accomplishments, “Also, earning a ticket two years in a row to compete at the 2014 and 2015 Rotax Grand Finals in Spain and Portugal.”
Christian got the opportunity to race a full season in the GRC Lites series through a connection he made in the sport of karting. “My opportunity to race GRC Lites came about when David Fernandez of AF Racing approached my Dad to be part of the AF Racing Team. We felt that being a part of the Red Bull Global Rally Cross series would be the right move for me to transition into cars.” Alejandro Fernandez and Travis PeCoy are Brooks’ teammates at AF racing; with that comes the ability to overlap data and bounce driving and race strategies off one another. “We work as a team at AF Racing. We have amazing data support. I use the data to my advantage because I understand and am learning from it. At the end of the day we are teammates, but still all three of us have one thing in mind. Get that win!” Christian stated.
Christian has raced virtually nonstop since he was 6 years old. Not to mention, he’s racing a full season in rally cross in addition to running numerous karting series this year. Many kids his age with the same amount of laps he’s logged get too burnt out mentally and physically to continue competing. “I do race a lot!” Christian exclaimed. “I never get burned out at all. When I am not racing I am testing my kart or GRC Lites car , practicing iRacing on my simulator and watching European races on the internet. I actually get withdrawals from racing when I have any type of break! I just want to be on the race track as much as possible.” Brooks clearly isn’t feeling the fatigue.
Needless to say, karts and rally cars are very different. The driving characteristics and speed are just two of the differences that a kart driver will notice when they make the step up. Those that can’t adapt to the style of driving needed to compete in rallycross don’t stick around for long. So, how does one deal with the demanding transition from a 125cc, one cylinder engine to a 2.4 liter, 310 horsepower engine? “Transitioning from karts to cars has not been difficult for me at all. It feels natural!” Christian said. Karting is generally the first step of any driver’s career because it helps them learn the fundamentals of racing. “Racing karts at the level of extreme competitiveness that I have been involved with and by racing the best karters from around the world has developed me mentally, emotionally and physically. Racing karts has given me the confidence to be a competitive, fast and safe race car driver.” He explained.
Racecar drivers have to be the full package. It’s not enough just to win races. In addition to the physical demands of stepping up into a racecar, knowing how to handle the business side of racing is just as important as knowing how to drive the car. If not more important at times. “I have learned how to communicate with potential sponsors. I have also learned how professional racing teams operate.”
Christian currently sits fifth in the points out of twenty-two drivers. Still searching for his first win, he remains optimistic in finishing out the season strong. “I am trying to do my best to get into the top 3. I have the confidence that I can get in a win by the end of the season. Hopefully, I can gain enough points and all the cards will fall into place. I’ve shown great speed at the last round in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, I got a flat tire on the 3rd lap of the main or I would of gained some good points.” There’s currently one race left in the season, Christian’s home race in Los Angeles. “I am looking forward to the Red Bull GRC Championship finale in Los Angeles. I am from L.A. and all my friends and family will be their to support me.” Anyone that knows the Brooks family closely is aware that they travel in a pack. His parents, grandparents, sister, and cousins can be found in the grandstands when he’s out on the track. “It means so much to have a strong family support system. Besides winning, there is not a better feeling then seeing my family in the stands cheering me on.”
The future is looking bright for Christian Brooks and he knows it. The 16-year-old has his sights set on a Formula 1 seat. “I plan to continue the path that I am on now by obtaining more knowledge and developing my skills as a professional race car driver. I plan on working my way up into Supercars in the Red Bull Global Rally Cross Championship series. Hopefully, I will impress the right people and move onto the Red Bull Driver Development Program. I want to become a member of the Red Bull Junior Team and develop into an open wheel driver and eventually a Formula 1 driver.”