From the age of five, Keegan Leahy (BSc’20) dreamt of becoming a professional NASCAR driver. Now, the Halifax native is applying his Dal studies in physics, atmospheric science and meteorology to his new career as a sim driver and performance consultant for 23XI Racing—a professional, American auto-racing organization that competes in the NASCAR Cup series—helping make those dreams a reality.
7 A.M. Most days, I work from 23XI’s head office in Mooresville, N.C., testing simulations to help NASCAR drivers prepare for upcoming race weekends. Today, our team is stationed at the North Wilkesboro Speedway for a full day of testing Goodyear tires and analyzing data.
8 A.M. I help set up ramps and scales to measure the car before the driver starts. This speedway hasn’t been used in decades, so the ground is uneven. It takes time to adjust and re-adjust things, but I enjoy the challenge. 10 A.M. Over the course of 20 laps, the driver gets a feel for the tires while we track how the car slows each lap. We also look to make sure the car is balanced—that the front tires wear as fast as the rear. There’s moisture in the air, so I’m applying my studies in meteorology to determine how a race strategy could be impacted by weather.
Keegan Leahy on the track (supplied).
12 P.M. Catering has arrived with fajitas. Fitness and nutrition are big parts of the culture here—it’s almost competitive! Lunch re-energizes us to perform at our best for the rest of the afternoon.
2 P.M. We continue to use our tools and technology to test drive the race car, tracking data from each lap. When the car doesn’t turn well, or the rear tires spin out, that’s something we focus on. I’m learning a lot today—all of which can later be applied to my simulation work.
4 P.M. The workday will end soon but I stay a little longer to watch the lightning and wait out rush hour on the interstate. Surprisingly, I don’t like to contend with traffic.
9 P.M. There’s much less traffic in the evening, so I take this opportunity to take a drive and get some fresh air. I like fast cars in racing and simulation, but I also enjoy slow, relaxing drives in the real world. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a spot to watch lightning from a thunderstorm off in the distance.
This story appeared in the DAL Magazine Fall/Winter 2023 issue. Flip through the rest of the issue using the links below.
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