Maurice Velandia and his 18-year-old son Sean are getting ready for a road trip, but it’s not just any road trip. For the second year in a row, the pair will compete in a fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 in the C Street Prepared class at the SCCA Tire Rack Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Neb.
Maurice, a longtime car aficionado and former hardware engineer at Intel, got his start in competitive driving through racing on a simulator. Sean, even as a toddler, would sit on his lap completely rapt as Maurice drove the sim. Then, about 15 years ago, Maurice ventured into autocross.
“I wish I had found autocross earlier,” says Maurice. “What I discovered was that I really improved as a driver. I spent some years in an uncompetitive car before moving into the C Street class, and finally went to my first Solo Nationals in 2014.”
When Sean was 10 years old he began competing in autocross in a go-kart at local events near his family’s home outside of Sacramento, Calif. The young Velandia had a near instant knack for driving and would eventually compete in wheel-to-wheel kart races with Maurice as his pit crew, all the while continuing to compete in autocrosses. There was a time when they considered wheel-to-wheel road racing, but the commitment of time and money was exponential to what they were already investing in Sean’s karting. Autocross, coming in at a fraction of the price, was just as effective at scratching their itch for speed and competition.
In December 2016, Maurice purchased a new MX-5 and the pair of them began competing in autocross together, building a father-son rivalry that they say pushes them both to be better drivers. That year turned out to be a bit of a turning point.