17 November 2016

From the cowl FORWARD

Alex Nunn's nine-to-five is the business end of a Dodge Viper GT3 race car. From the cowl forward, 28-year-old Alex runs the show on the Viper Exchange No. 33 entry in IMSA’s Weathertech SportsCar Championship. It’s a far cry from the boring stuff he was up to at Virginia Commonwealth University.

College was always the family plan for Alex, and in 2005 he started at VCU. But business administration can be a pretty dull major if you’re not that into it, and after two years, Alex Nunn was not into it. At all.

Then his mom sent him a newspaper story about Ralph Gilles, now Head of Design at Fiat/Chrysler, who himself had once been disillusioned with his path — until his aunt wrote a letter to Chrysler to extol the artistic talents of her disaffected nephew. Ralph Gilles’ life changed forever. So did Alex Nunn’s, because, to his family’s great concern, he dropped out of VCU, moved to Kansas and enrolled at McPherson College.

“It gave me the chance to finish my bachelors degree, which was completely necessary. And I was given a chance to work with something I loved: classic cars.” Alex excelled, and he received crucial grants from the RPM Foundation for his last two years. “As the youngest of three kids going to college,” he says, “I kind of had to pay my own way.”

Following an internship at American Restomods in Georgia, Alex accepted a job there after graduation, where he met Frank Resciniti, a seasoned mechanic in endurance racing. When Resciniti left in 2012 to work for Riley Technologies as crew chief for the new factory Dodge Viper team, he offered Alex a spot. “He said if you want the opportunity to go to Le Mans, here it is.”

Alex has been racing ever since but admits he knew nothing of the sport when he started. Mechanics split the car into thirds, for example: front end, cockpit and rear end. “You just stick to your part of the car and become an expert.”

Alex says the whole thing felt like an out-of-body-experience. “There’s so much to learn, so quickly. Not only was I learning race cars, which are a completely different animal, but I was doing pit stops on live TV, in front of fans, the boss, sponsors, everybody. That challenge kept my head in it.”

With the Dodge team’s exit after 2014, Alex is now part of the privateer Viper Exchange entry in the series. With a firm grasp on the world of endurance racing, he would love to make the jump to prototypes. But he’s got back-burner plans, too, like returning to school for engineering and design, or restoring vintage race cars, which would combine everything he loves. “I’m a classic car guy at heart.”

Old race cars would certainly benefit from Alex Nunn’s passion. They’d have his mom to thank for it.

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