He may make a living behind the wheel of a sports car, but Johannes van Overbeek is not one to brood on what is left behind in his rear-view.
“You get full of self-doubt,” the 40-year-old said, recalling some of the hardships that entail a professional racing career that began 17 years ago. “But learning how to punch through that and put it to rest and do better next time is a trait that applies to anything in life when you’re down and out.”
Van Overbeek may have once felt down and out, but not today, for the Sacramento native and Oakland resident will return to Laguna Seca in Monterey this weekend to compete in the third leg of the American Le Mans Series — a 10-race sports car championship spanning from March to October.
“Laguna is a home track of mine,” said van Overbeek, co-driver of the Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 02 Tequila Patron HPD ARX-03b P2 car. “I’ve always had great runs at Laguna Seca, and I’m expecting this coming weekend to be no different.”
Last month in Long Beach, van Overbeek and fellow driver Ed Brown claimed second-place honors in the P2 class, finishing solely behind his ESM teammates Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo. Van Overbeek and Co. will aim for another 1-2 finish this weekend.
But despite his familiarity with the NorCal raceway, seizing the coveted spot victory lane will take its toll.
During the four-hour race around the 2.2-mile track, van Overbeek will round corners at 110 mph and just over three G’s.
“The car will take it,” he said. “The bigger question is will my neck take it after two or three hours of driving around with all of those high-speed corners there.”
But rounding violent turns is what van Overbeek has done for the better part of his life. Though it wasn’t until age 18, when sponsored by Kumho Tires, that his boyhood dream turned true.
“All of a sudden the lights went on. ‘Oh, here’s how you can make a living racing, you get somebody to pay for it,’” he said. “I was just trying to go out and go faster than anybody else out there, and did a reasonable job of doing that without wrecking a lot of stuff — which was a miracle.”
Miracle or no, the initial weekend hobby with his father Tom drove van Overbeek to compete against the best available competition. It worked.
“It’s so competitive, you have more bad days than good days really, but it makes the good days all that much more rewarding because you’ve really done something that not a lot of people can do.”