John Edwards is flying high. The BMW Team RLL racing driver is gaining altitude both literally and figuratively. Hard to believe that he is already in his fifth season as a BMW of North America contracted driver.
Now at age 26 years, the youngster who once held the FIA record for the youngest license holder and scored his first Skip Barber Racing victory at age 12, has been a winner everywhere he’s been.
Edwards has won championships in karting, Formula Mazda and the IMSA support series, and has wins for BMW Team RLL at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park.
John Eddy Air
Born in Louisville, Edwards now splits his time between Charlotte, North Carolina and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Before and after most races, tests, appearances and meetings you will find him at the controls of his Cirrus RS22 airplane.
“As a race car driver coming up, I’ve spent way too much time on commercial planes, but I was always fascinated with take offs and landings, sitting over the wings, watching the flaps work and I
knew that one day I wanted to fly myself,” said Edwards.
“So for my birthday one year, my dad and mom got me an introductory to flying gift certificate and I took my first flight with an instructor in Hawaii. I flew by the mountains, across some islands and I was immediately hooked.
“The more I flew and looked at our race schedule, I realized this was something I could actually use to get to races and so I combined my need to travel with my passion for flying.
“I flew for about a year after I got my license, just visual stuff and then decided I was going to get my instrument rating and start flying to races. I bought a Cirrus and it has really changed the way I travel. We take off from my local airport in Concord, N.C. and in about 3 hours, I arrive at Sebring right next to the race track.
“I bought it in March, 2016, and have already put about 250 hours on the plane, so I’m really getting some good use out of it and my dad is getting some good use out of it as well.”
On the Ground
On the track, Edwards is aboard the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM in the IMSA
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Edwards hopes to claim some serious hardware to carry on for his flights home.
“BMW is putting a lot of effort into the program,” said Edwards.
“This year we have a new car, some new teammates, my co-driver Martin Tomczyk and Bill’s new co-driver Alexander Sims. This is my fifth year with BMW and having veterans with so much experience with BMW and Europe, I can always take opportunities to learn from them.”
There is a bit of a role reversal in the cards for Edwards in 2017 as he welcomes former DTM champion Martin Tomczyk as his new BMW Team RLL co-driver.
In addition to the DTM, Tomczyk, age 35, of Rosenheim, Germany, is a veteran of the Nurburgring and Spa 24 Hour races.
“This year is a different position for me,” said Edwards.
“Instead of the other guys showing me around, now, I’m showing him around a little bit.
“This is Martin’s first year in the WeatherTech Championship. He has never been to these tracks before; the tracks are all new to him. I’m trying to help be the tour guide, and show where things are and the way around some of the tracks.
“He knows the BMW way and is a very quick study.”
— Michelin Alley (@MichelinAlley) April 8, 2017
Edwards on the M6 GTLM Favorite circuits
“I like dealing with traffic and mixing it up with the GT cars,” said Edwards.
“It’s not just driving the same lap over and over. You are catching up with someone and maybe making the pass. It is a cool part of endurance racing to me.
“Watkins Glen is my favorite circuit. It has elevation changes, long duration corners, very high speeds and a nice flow. Our M6 should be good there. It’s a big car and we have to work hard in low speed corners.
“I’ve driven the European BMW M6 GT3 on the higher speed places like the Nurburgring Nordschleife. It gets through the higher speed, longer corners really well.
“I think that we should go well at Watkins Glen and at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) we should shine.”
Edwards on Teammate Bill Auberlen
“Bill is great,” said Edwards.
“When I grow up, I want to be Bill Auberlen. He’s been with BMW for more than 20 years. He has more wins for BMW than anyone.
“I’ve never been a co-driver with him, but we’ve been teammates for five years now.”