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  • April 19, 2022 4 min read

    David Heinemeier Hansson is, quote: "the creator of Ruby on Railscofounder of Basecamp & HEYbest-selling authorLe Mans class-winning racing driverantitrust advocatefrequent podcast guest, and family man." He was kind enough to spare some time in his busy agenda to answer our questions about his career and passion for racing. 

    Can you tell us a bit on who were your racing references when growing up? As a Dane how much is Tom Kristensen to “blame” for your interest in racing?

    Tom Kristensen bears the primary responsibility of sparking the dream of Le Mans. Following his incredible career there somehow connected it as something possible, because we're both Danes. Which doesn't really make much sense, if you think about it. But that's the power of national role models, it's about sparking the dream, the emotion.

    David Heinemeier Hansson 2014 GT Class Le Mans Win

    David, on the right side of the image, took the 2014 win in the GTE-Am Class in Le Mans

    When did you decide to get into racing? Do you remember something close to an “aha moment” that you said to yourself I want to try this out?

    didn't try a race car until I was 27. So quite a late starter! But I always played a lot of racing video games. Like Metropolitan Street Racer on the Dreamcast and Gran Turismo. I also didn't get my driver's license until I was 25, though, so! I knew, however, after I drove my first real race car, a Formula Mazda, that I just wanted more and more!

    When and with what car was your first test of a racing grade car? What do you remember from that day?

    It was that Formula Mazda. A friend of mine took me to a track near Chicago called Autobahn. I did maybe 1-2 hours in the car, and I was SPENT. In the most joyous way possible. So many impressions, my brain was working over time. It was true flow.

    Can you briefly compare to us that day against your first taste of a LMP2 machinery?

    The first LMP2 experience I had was driving at Sebring in 2012. I had driven a lot of Radical cars before that, so it wasn't totally alien, but it was still very new. It felt like a Radical in many ways, just so much better. I immediately knew this was the category for me.

    Not a sheet of paper could fit between the two cars...

    In your career you have switched from GTs to Prototypes frequently, how did you manage the adaptation? What was the most complex part?

    Yeah, my career highlight of winning Le Mans happened in GT with Aston Martin in 2014. And I've enjoyed some great drives in GT. Finished 3rd at Le Mans with Porsche as well in GT. But really, I'm a prototype driver. That's what I enjoy the most, that's what I'm best at. I just click better with downforce than I do with mechanical grip.

    From all the “pros” you have shared a drive with, who has impacted you the most and why?

    Patrick Long was the first big-time pro I drove with who really taught me a lot. Was very happy to drive with him at Le Mans in 2016 as well. But also good mentions to Olivier Pla for my first WEC season in 2013. Learned a lot studying his data. Those were the early influences. Some of the highlights were also driving with Beche and Nelson Piquet Jr in 2017 with Rebellion. I drove the best Le Mans in prototype of my career with them.

    Speaking of “pros” Patrick Long just announced he is retiring from active racing, you both shared the 911 RSR in 2016, what can you tell us about him as a teammate?

    Patrick is awesome. He's both incredibly competitive, eager to push the teams, and yet very aware of the role of the pro when driving with gentleman drivers like myself.  It's not just about being the fastest driver, it's about having the fastest car, which requires lifting all boats.

    In 2020, you decided to leave your seat to a rookie given the new driving levelling guidelines in the WEC weren’t allowing for a level playing field, do you think the WEC is at risk of loosing the gentleman driver spirit?

    I was/am stuck with a weird rating. That of the silver driver. After 2016 forward, the silver rating got handed to a lot of very fast professional drivers. That took a lot of the joy out of the experience for me, and in 2019 came to a head when I was competing in GTE-AM as literally the only amateur with a silver rating, against 10 other cars with professional "silvers". I bailed on that program that year because of it. But now I hear that true reform is coming for 2023, pushed by SRO, who really understand the importance of amateur rankings. So I'm more optimistic now than I was.

    Are we going to see you anytime soon behind the wheel?

    I thought I was done, but after spending a year out of racing, I'm actually ready to get back in. We'll see if I can find a program that makes sense to make that happen, but at least now I want to!

    David Heinemeier Hansson

    David announced recently his return to racing and Le Mans, you can read more about it in his blog post
    One last one, is any of your kids already faster than dad in the SIM or dad still has the edge? ;)

    Haha, both my older boys like gokarting. And they're already quite fast! But in a way I hope they just treat it as a hobby. It's a very tough life trying to make a career of it.