A year in the life of Nick Cassidy
Aucklander Nick Cassidy may not be hooning around Western Springs or Hampton Downs anymore. In fact his life at the moment couldn’t be more juxtaposed than his formative teenage years back at home in New Zealand.
Now living in Tokyo, Japan and without doubt one of Toyota’s blue eyed boys with the world at his feet, Nick is fulfilling his potential as a racing driver and in many ways he’s only just begun.
Consider just the start of his 2019 season. Starting from home in Auckland, he flew to the USA to take part in one of the bucket list races for any driver, the Daytona 24 Hours. There he drove for one of the big names in American racing, Jimmy Vasser, representing Toyota and Lexus in the AIM Vasser/ Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 GTD. The team finished 22nd overall.
“When I was in New Zealand I said one day I’d really love to do Daytona so I’m really glad I did it and I want to keep going back.
“Tough race for sure and I was blown away by the stadium atmosphere of Daytona. How big everything was and the American style of racing with the pit boxes on pit road. Yeah a great experience and I want to go back.”
Then it was back to Highlands Park in New Zealand for a few joy rides in the Lexus for the fans and a spot of commentary in the Toyota Racing Series. He remains the most successful TRS graduate in its 15 year history.
Cassidy handed out trophies to the next up and coming Kiwi in the form of Liam Lawson then it was back on the plane to Japan for preseason testing for both the Super GT and the Super Formula Series.
These are the two biggest racing series Japan and once again in both cases he’s representing the biggest car manufacturer in the world,Toyota.
In my book at 25 years old that truly IS ‘living the dream.’
Make no mistake, Nick Cassidy is well aware of where and what this opportunity means for him and his future. For the last few years he has been delivering the goods for Toyota wherever they choose to put him.
A podium at the most prestigious F3 race in the world at Macau in 2014 .
An all Japan F3 title for Toms Toyota in 2015.
In 2017 a Super GT title for the Lexus Team KeePer Toms Toyota, the biggest prize in Japanese racing.
Then last in season the fairy tale ended with runner up status in both the Super GT and Super Formula Series, where he lost by a mere point!
There are foreign drivers who have driven in Japan for most of their lives making a good living, but have never come close to what Cassidy has achieved in 2018 and the youngster is far from satisfied and is determined for better and more in 2019.
So far in 2019 he is leading the Super Formula championship after winning the first race at Suzuka for his new team Vantelin Team TOMS, or Tachi Oiwa Motor Sports to be precise.
Having qualified 12th, he chose the right pit stop strategy to get one over his arch rival Naoki Yamamoto. He is determined to not miss out to Yamamoto again by one point.
“I didn’t expect it (the race win) at all to be honest. We weren’t competitive in the practice and qualifying, so to come away with the win we have no complaints at all. We really didn’t expect it.
“I’m coming back into 2019 really motivated. I really want it this year, that’s for sure.
“Next weekend we are at Autopolis (18-19 May) which is an awesome track and where I have lots of experience in both Super Formula and Super GT’s.
“It’s in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, a really crazy place with long corners. It’s a high speed circuit with no run off. There’s walls, grass – New Zealand style.”
In Super GT he’s once again in the mix and after a wash-out at Okayama in Round 1 where he finished 12th, and a 7th at Round 2 in Fuji, Cassidy and co-driver Ryo Hirakawa are currently seventh overall.
“I’m in one of the best teams in the pit lane, the same team as last year Toms Racing. Ryo Hirakawa is super fast so nothing to complain about at all.
“We’ve had two very successful years, but this seaon we are probably not going to be the strongest manufacturer in the field.
“I don’t know what to compare it to. Its crazy, its an organized mess. The Japanese are so polite and have their tickets for queuing up to get into the pitlane.
“It’s an incredible atmosphere at Fuji. I mean, there were 91,000 fans there and everybody’s running everywhere. And nothing is restricted so the fans can walk down pit lane and meet the drivers. Its great for the fans and incredible to watch.”
If you want to understand it fully just load up your Grand Tourismo game on your TV and watch as that’s what this boy from Auckland is now doing every other weekend, but for real.
So what’s next for this young racer with the world at his feet.
“I’ve changed a lot in the last year and a half. I’m much more racing focused and life’s got a lot more serious, which I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But I’m still enjoying it.”
How about Nascar as there are Toyota’s there.?
“Ha I was talking about this yesterday – I really would really love to give that a crack one day. I met Christopher Bell over the Summer and said, ‘Hey man, we should do a car swap.
“Seriously though, I’d never turn down a seat at Le Mans and some more International GT races.
“I think it’s something to look at for the future for sure. I’m trying to go to Goodwood this year as well. I’ve watched it on YouTube and think that would be great to finish off the year.”
So Nick Cassidy is living the dream, but taking it seriously and why not.
Watch out the Super GT and Super Formula on live stream and follow along with what could be his biggest year yet.
Also see: Nick Cassidy – The Strategist