© 2019 by Andy Pilgrim

Andy Pilgrim Takes Racing From The Streets To The Tracks

February 28, 2012

Born and raised in Nottingham, England Andy Pilgrim had racing in his blood from the very beginning. As a teenager, Pilgrim spent many sleepless nights reading motorcycle magazines, hoping one day that he’d be able to afford to race. As Pilgrim became educated and eventually made his way into the British workforce, his meager salary was enough to convert his street motorcycle into a race bike.

 

Around that time, a friend returned to England from a visit to America and regaled Pilgrim with stories of American life and racing. Andy was so inspired that Andy decided he would someday come to America.

 

Pilgrim began racing his bike in England and it was apparent early on that he was a very talented racer. Pilgrim took his converted street bike to several regional championships and eventually, to a second place finish in the highly competitive British 500cc Production Championship.

 

In the early 1980s, Pilgrim had developed his skills in computer programming. He managed to earn enough money to make his move to America for the opportunity of a lifetime. American companies were hiring computer programmers from all over the globe to fill the growing demand. Pilgrim’s first American job was with General Motors working for the Pontiac Motor Division in Pontiac, Michigan. "The salary was $12,000 a year, which I though was a lot when I was in England," Pilgrim said with a grin.

 

After a year in Michigan, Pilgrim was able to land a job in El Paso, Texas. There, he was able to save enough money to finally build himself a race car. One of Pilgrim’s first races was in Riverside, California. Starting out on a strict budget, Pilgrim drove his race car from Texas to California to compete in Riverside. He would take part in the race knowing that if he wrecked his car on the night of the race, he would be taking the bus back home to Texas the next day.

 

Later, Pilgrim began autocrossing in a 1983 VW GTi and started professional road racing in 1984 in the IMSA Renault Cup, receiving rookie of the year honors in his first year.

Pilgrim continued to advance in his professional career as well. In 1989, he opened up his own information technology consulting firm called Electronic Computer Services, Inc., which today has over 100 employees.

 

In his racing career, Pilgrim has managed to advance quickly as well. Pilgrim has won five Championships and 61 races so far in his professional racing career. Over the last 15 years Pilgrim has been in the role of a factory driver racing BMWs and Porsches, then onto GM Racing in Corvettes, Pontiacs and Cadillacs. GM Racing would shut down its Cadillac racing program due to budget cuts at the end of 2008, but Pilgrim was quickly snatched up by Championship winning team, K-PAX Racing. In the late fall of 2010, GM Racing announced Cadillac's return to SCCA Pro Racing with the CTS-V Coupe, and Andy was promptly picked to join team mate Johnny O'Connell in the two car team effort.

 

When he is not racing or working in his IT consulting company, Pilgrim now spends his time teaching new drivers the importance of driving safely and the dangers of distracted driving. "It's my way of giving back," explains Pilgrim, who feels he has had a good life and wants to help teens stay safe on today's roads. Because of Pilgrim's vast experience in driving both personal and professional, he has the unique ability to teach safety skills and techniques that will help America’s teens stay safe on today’s roads. Pilgrim saw a need to help young people become better drivers. "Driving is the only thing you do on a daily basis that can kill you and others," said Pilgrim. For over 15 years Pilgrim has been teaching teens the importance of road safety and the dangers of distractions like using cell phones while driving.

 

In 2004, Pilgrim set out to create a video that could reach millions of teenagers. In 2003 Andy searched for sponsors to help create this video, however none actually took the challenge. Not to be deterred, Pilgrim funded the project himself with a little help from friends. Dale Earnhardt Jr. would eventually join the cause and helped create the video, The Driving Zone. Volvo and Ford would also join the project with cars to use in the making of the video. By 2004 The Driving Zone was finished, and over 40,000 free DVDs were given to new drivers across the U.S.

 

Also because he saw such great need for teen driving safety education, Pilgrim created the Andy Pilgrim Foundation in 2008, geared toward providing that needed education. The Andy Pilgrim Foundation's mission is to educate new street drivers. Pilgrim believes education can raise awareness of the deadly problems associated with distracted driving. Driving collisions and crashes are the number one killer of teenagers; there are over 6,000 traffic deaths and 500,000 serious injuries of 13 - 19 year olds that occur every year on US roads. The goal of the Andy Pilgrim Foundation is to help change these horrifying statistics for the better.

 

Pilgrim released the second edition of the DVD called The Driving Zone 2 in 2010. This DVD highlights the extreme dangers and pitfalls of using electronic devices to text and email while driving, while providing many useful tools used by professional and very experienced street drivers to enable them to stay collision free while driving. The DVD also has a section on adaptive driving equipment for people with disabilities.

 

Pilgrim's Racing Career

Residence: Boca Raton, Florida
Native of: Nottingham, England. U.S. citizen since 1998.

 

Occupation:

  • Driver - Team Cadillac Racing CTS-V in SCCA World Challenge GT Series.

  • Created Electronic Computer Services, Inc. (ECS) in Aventura, FL, in 1989.

  • Came to US in 1982, worked as contract computer programmer for GM in Detroit.

 

61 Race Wins in 10 Pro series

 

5 Professional Championships:

  • 2005 SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT

  • 1998 IMSA Speedvision Cup Grand Sports

  • 1997 IMSA Exxon GT1

  • 1996 Brazilian GT2

  • 1995 IMSA Speedvision Cup Grand Sports

 

Major Accomplishments:

  • 3 wins - Rolex 24 At Daytona - 2004, 2002 and 1997

  • 2 wins - Petit Le Mans - 2000 and 2001

  • 1 win - 12 Hours of Sebring -1996

  • 5 top 3 finishes - 24 Hours of Le Mans -1997-2000-01-02-03

  • 4 wins - 12-hour and 24-hour Street Stock races at Mosport, Watkins Glen and Sebring

 

Racing World Record:

  • Andy finished 116 consecutive IMSA races without a DNF between 7/19/92 and 9/19/98. In that span he won 25 races and three IMSA championships, with a 3.71 average finish.

 

Away From The Track:

  • Andy has long worked with high school students in Florida’s Broward and Dade County Schools, teaching them survival skills for early years of highway driving.

 

Andy has a safe-driving DVD, “The Driving Zone. Essential Techniques For New Drivers,” with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and and a forthcoming sequel "The Driving Zone 2".

 

Andy Has Raced on 67 tracks:

  • 29 U.S. permanent circuits

  • 23 U.S. temporary street courses

  • 15 circuits in Canada, Italy, Spain, England, France, Mexico, China and Brazil

 

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