From Ashland to Daytona

Ashland, Ore. — Only on Five. NBC5 is introducing you to Rogue Valley residents you may or may not know that have a hidden talent.

Derek DeBoer is a general manager at a local car dealership that’s taken his passion for speed to the next level.

Derek DeBoer’s grown up around cars his entire life. His family owned dealerships and he started from the bottom up – washing cars, working in the parts and service department.

But for the past 18 years, despite a full time job and a family, Deboer’s taken his passion for cars from the dealership to the racetrack.

“18 years ago my wife had asked me what dream I hadn’t chased yet and I told her professional racecar driver. She said – well, why don’t you get going? And she signed me up for a racing class,” DeBoer said.

A racing class that rekindled a passion Derek DeBoer’s had since he was young.

“It was something I always wanted to do. Like racecar drivers were my superheroes and my sporting icons since I was a little kid from two years old growing up,” he said.

It was an experience that gave him more than he ever hoped for.

“The first time I got to sit in a proper racecar. I mean, my smile was from ear to ear. It was nothing like what I expected,” he said.

Fast forward 18 years, Deboer is still racing – but now on famous tracks like Daytona and Laguna Seca.

“I still have to pinch myself to make sure it’s all real,” he said.

It may be a dream job – but it came with a hard price.

“There are definitely times where I’m looking at it going – what are you doing? Why do you even put yourself in this situation,” he said.

Situations that include his crew at TC Chevy, where DeBoer is the general manager.

“I actually found myself feeling guilty of the time that it took and just kind of trying to squeak it in the cracks and it wasn’t working that successfully,” he said.

Aside from working at TC Chevy and racing across the globe, DeBoer is also a husband and father to three daughters.

Balancing his family, his work and his passion doesn’t come easy, he has his loved ones behind him.

“The support system and the people behind it are very humbling. It in a way does put some pressure on you. It’s like, okay, you said what you want to do and now you’re doing it and these people have all said we’ll help,” DeBoer said.

And that’s allowed DeBoer to follow his dreams.

“There’s so much more to it than just sitting behind the wheel of the racecar and pushing the gas pedal,” DeBoer said.

Since DeBoer’s racing career launched 18 years ago, he’s raced in a number of countries around the world. Winning at road america. In 2016 alone, he had seven podium finishes.

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