Experienced sportscar racer Jeff Westphal and up-and-coming pilot Trevor Baek are teamed in 2020 in the Vital Speed #7 Ferrari 488 GT3. Both drivers have had interesting paths to professional racing. Having never raced karts and more into soccer and football, Westphal, in his teens, took a job at an indoor karting track. And from there his journey into racing took shape. Baek’s interest in the world of fashion was his focus. That changed though when at the age of 15 his father bought a race car, and as they say, the rest is history.
Team: Vital Speed Motorsports
Car: #7 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo
Favorite Track: Nürburgring
Daily Driver: BMW 335i
Dream Car: Ferrari F40
Racing Hero: Ken Miles
Favorite Food: Smoked Brisket
Favorite Hobby: Cycling/Fitness
Favorite Vacation Spot: Hawaii
Pet's name: Ophelia
First Car: Mustang GT
Favorite Movie: Inception
Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad
Favorite Track: Daytona International Speedway or COTA
Daily Driver: AMG GTs
Dream Car: #7 Métier Studio Ferrari 488 GT3
Racing Hero: Not one per se, but I love watching Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
Favorite Food: Pho
Favorite Hobby: Photography
Occupation: Co-founder of Métier Studio
Favorite Vacation Spot: Somewhere quiet
Pet's name: Nemo! *said in a high pitch voice*
First Car: Chevy Suburban
Favorite Movie: Don’t have one
Favorite TV Show: Psych
How was COTA?
Westphal: The Vital Speed Motorsports team (from top to bottom) pulled out all the stops in their prep work considering we would be campaigning two cars full season, and I have a huge amount of gratitude for them and all the late nights they committed at the shop to give us two competitive Ferrari's. Being that we have some new personnel in the program, I am pretty happy with how our COTA went, especially in practice. Once crunch time started, there were a few things that were easy to improve on, which makes me optimistic about how competitive we will be moving forward!
Baek: Overall, COTA was a great event. It was fantastic to be back with SRO’s GT World Challenge America. Vital Speed Motorsports is campaigning two GT3s this year, which has been a new challenge for the team, but they absolutely delivered all offseason and over the race weekend. Couldn’t be prouder of them.
We started the weekend fairly strong in practices, showing off the pace of the #7. Unfortunately, during the qualifying and races, our pace didn’t translate as well as we had hoped, and we didn’t get a chance to finish the second race. Once the season picks back up again, we’re excited to rise up to the challenge and give it everything we have!
How did you get into racing?
Westphal: I started into motorsports late relative to most drivers, and it was somewhat of an untraditional path to start. I had a job in my late high school years at an indoor karting facility that opened not far from home, so in between my soccer and football responsibilities, I spend a lot of my time diving into karting, and when not driving just being present and aware. The owner of the indoor kart facility noticed a bit of natural talent along with the eagerness to learn, and thus he sponsored me to get into the Red Bull Driver search in the mid 2000's. I made it through each round of cuts from thousands of eager youngsters were trimmed down to 30 drivers fighting for seven spots, and unfortunately due to my lack of experience and race craft, did not make one of the seven spots. However multiple judges of the event made it a point to chat with me regarding my lack of experience vs. kids who had already been karting/racing for 10 years. Danny Sullivan was one of those, and he spent a significant amount of time talking about next steps or paths to try and follow to garnish the ever important "seat time." From there it was single seat formula cars from 2006 to 2008, Formula Mazda in '06 to start and then F2000 in '07 and '08. Over the three-year period I was able to win races, podium, and win a championship as I was gaining experience with each time, I set foot in the car. In 2009 I joined PR1 Motorsports for my first Daytona 24Hr and have been following the path of sports car racing ever since. I have been blessed with the opportunity to race nearly every brand of car in that 11-year time span but have been one of a few US drivers to win with Ferrari, thus I have been involved with the brand since 2013.
Baek: About seven years ago, my dad got a race car and was generous (crazy?) enough to let 15-year-old me behind the wheel, a few months after I had gotten my driving permit. It spiraled out of control from there and now we’re here!
What is your favorite racing memory?
Westphal: My favorite racing memory thus far would be my pole position winning lap at the 2017 Nürburgring 24HR. At that time, I was one of only two, non-German drivers to capture the pole ahead of the 24HR Grunne Holle, and THE only American to do it in the 47 years of the race. The icing on the cake was that Connor Di Phillipi was P2, so we put the "Stars and Bars" on the front row, which was a neat detail.
Baek: My favorite racing memory is probably my race win in Ferrari Challenge in a downpour at Road Atlanta. Naturally, victories are always a great memory, but that race was particularly challenging, so it was great to claim pole and get the race win.
What’s the story behind your helmet design?
Westphal: The helmet design is creative work from Brett King, a painter I've had do my last three helmets. I recognize my artistic place in the food chain, so I give him the logos of sponsors that will be on the helmet and say, "go nuts". I feel like letting the actual artist come up with a concept usually nets the best results and allows him to incorporate more of what he likes, which in this case is texture. There are matte, gloss, and exposed carbon design items on the helmet so it looks very layered, which I love!
Baek: I love the color combination of blue and white, so those have been the same on the last few helmets of mine, although different shades of blue each year. A few years back, I took a few styling cues from Fernando Alonso’s helmet when he drove for Ferrari. Each design from there has been a natural iteration and progression left up to the discretion of the artists at Troy Lee Designs. On the back, I like to put a quote or song title that’s particularly meaningful to me at the time. This year, I chose a song called “Come to the Waters” by Matthew Zigenis. He’s the worship pastor at my church.
Something interesting about you or a talent?
Westphal: I am a big fan of music, basically all types but it depends on the mood!
Baek: I love photography and taught myself through YouTube.
If you could invite three people to dinner (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Westphal: I would love to have dinner with Smokey Yunick for being the character and innovator that he was, Kendrick Lamar because I am a huge fan of his creativity in his music and Ken Miles because he would most likely make the meal interesting and I would want to pick his brain on the development and racing of the Ford GT40's.
Baek: I would love to share dinner with Bill Gates, Lewis Hamilton, and C.S. Lewis. I’m inspired by Bill Gates’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit, Lewis Hamilton’s driving abilities and incredible story, and C.S. Lewis’s wisdom.
(Baek) Besides racing, sounds like you have a love for fashion as well. Tell us about the Métier Studio, your Portland-based menswear label.
Métier Studio has been a dream come true for me. My whole life, I’ve loved the world of fashion. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with fabric, stitching, and all types of clothes. Out of this passion, I decided to launch Métier Studio, a premium menswear brand, with my business partner, Kevin Swartout. It’s been an incredible and rewarding journey. We’ve had to teach ourselves the whole process through trial and error, which was challenging but so much fun for us to tackle together.
Recently, we released our first capsule - the “Racer Capsule.” It’s a blend of our casual West Coast design perspective blended with my love for racing culture. We imported fabrics from all over the world, including Japan, Italy, and Switzerland, and everything is cut and sewn in our factory in LA. There’s a theme of racing carried across each piece, telling the story of victory through our Laurel Branch logo. We couldn’t be prouder of how our hard work came together through this capsule. In the near future, we hope to create more timeless, effortlessly wearable pieces.