Gentlemen who start their engines: Tristan Herbert and Josh Hurley talk racing

Catching up with Tristan Herbert and Josh Hurley is harder than it sounds—these guys move. Both drivers earned podium spots in the final two races of the 2011 Pirelli World Challenge season piloting a Volkswagen GTI. Their finishes secured third place overall for VW in the manufacturer’s championship. Josh, who races for APR Motorsport, took second at Road Atlanta in APR’s first World Challenge event, and Tristan, who races for Brimtek Motorsports, took second at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California in some of the season’s finest racing. Volkswagen of America became an official sponsor of the Pirelli World Challenge in 2010, and in 2011, provided the Official Pace Vehicle, a Golf R.

Josh got his start in racing on a small scale—literally. He began by racing 1/24th scale slot cars, and after becoming a factory slot car driver, he thought he’d try his hand at something a little bigger: a go-kart. In just his fourth race as a go-kart driver, Josh qualified for the pole in a national race and earned a factory sponsorship. He then made the ultimate move up to full-size vehicles. After landing a sponsorship from Gunther Volkswagen of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he became the first-ever SCCA Jetta TDI Cup champion in 2008. Thanks to his successes, Josh earned a seat with APR Motorsport racing in Grand Am.

When we asked Josh which race was his favorite, he chose the time he raced with Volkswagen at the Hockenheimring in Polo Cup. Josh said, “What NASCAR is here, road racing is in Europe. The fan base just takes it to another level.” We also asked Josh what he likes best about racing the Volkswagen GTI. “The GTI is really, really good in high-speed corners—the suspension is absolutely excellent,” he replied. He also speaks on his secret weapon in races: “One thing that stands out with the Mark 6 GTI is the torque of the motor–It’s unbelievable. We do way better on courses with hills just because of the torque advantage we have over other vehicles.”

Tristan has long lived his life at high speed. The first car he ever owned was a Volkswagen GTI, and the first car he ever raced was a MK1 GTI, which he drove in SCCA regional club races. He was a professional snowboarder before beginning his track career racing motorcycles in 1999. After seeing several of his friends get injured on motorcycles, Tristan decided to take a safer route—one with a metal chassis around the driver. After attending the Sports Car Club of America racing school in 2008, the star pupil won the very first race he competed in. He then went on to win the Washington, DC regional championship in 2009, then placed second at nationals. He still holds the track record for his class at Summit Point Raceway. Tristan made his pro racing debut in 2011 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida at the Pirelli World Challenge Championship, but he showed no first-time jitters. In fact, he raced his Volkswagen MK5 GTI to victory—and set a track record. Performances like that earned him the 2011 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year award.

When we asked Tristan what he likes about racing a Volkswagen GTI, he replied, “I grew up driving Volkswagens, so I don’t really know anything else.” He went on to say, “The GTI is really nimble and it handles well on and off the track, and they’re fast. It’s also a really fun car to drive. I don’t know anybody who gets out of one without smiling.”

We know that Josh and Tristan hate to slow down for anything, but we’re grateful that they downshifted just long enough to chat with us for a few minutes. We look forward to cheering them on for many years to come.

Leave a Comment