By KEITH ERICKSON
For Coeur Voice
Avid car racer Bruce Mattare thrives on the exhilarating rush of piloting his 1990 BWM 325i, at breakneck speeds as he roars around the track jockeying for position at 120 mph.
But don’t call the Coeur d’Alene financial consultant an adrenalin junkie.
“An adrenalin junkie likes to jump out of planes and open their parachute 50 feet from the ground,” Mattare says. Driving fast cars competitively is more of a cognitive process, not a death-defying feat.
“What makes racing so exciting is that there’s so much stuff happening around you — and you have to process that and manage your surroundings,” he says.
“Most people associate driving on a racetrack as simply a matter of putting the accelerator to the floor and driving,” Mattare adds. “But race car driving is a skill that takes time to develop which goes way beyond the imagination of the layperson.”
Mattare’s exacting hobby all started a few years ago when his wife purchased a 10-lap gift at the Spokane Super Oval. Drivers were afforded the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of a Nascar-type race car and experience the thrill of driving without speed limits.
After that experience, he never looked back. Mattare became so hooked on fast cars that he bought himself a dragster.
His drag racing days were later replaced by track racing after a friend introduced him to the sport at the Super Oval, where Mattare tested his skills in his BMW M3.
“I had an amazing amount of fun,” he said. “I loved it.”
From there, he graduated to endurance racing. A mentally and physically challenging team sport, the long-haul races lasted eight hours; individuals drive for two hours straight. Mattare put together an endurance team and competed at tracks throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Mattare, 51, eventually sold his M3 and dragster, and has since graduated to PRO3 racing, the
largest and arguably most competitive race group in the Pacific Northwest with amateur racers
competing with 30 drivers or more at a time.
PRO3 has grown to be the largest amateur race class in the International Conference of Sports
Car Clubs. The sport pits drivers with a wide range of driver ability and experience against each other.
While skill levels vary, the drivers are on a level playing field when it comes to their cars. All PRO3 racers are driving BMWs built between 1987 and 1991.
“There are very strict rules on what you can do to a motor,” Mattare says. “The idea is to have standard variables so all the drivers have the same level car.”
Mattare travels to tracks in Seattle, Portland and Spokane to compete in the PRO3 circuit as he continues to excel in a thrilling sport that demands incredible focus and technical driving expertise.
And while he grimaces at the term adrenalin junkie, PRO3 racing undeniably amps up the adrenalin and gets the heart racing.
“It’s not normal to have another driver six inches off your bumper at 120 mph and trying to figure out how you’re going to make your move into the next turn to have your shot at passing,” he says.
PRO3 racing is not a skill that is perfected overnight. “Getting better just comes with more experience,” Mattare says.
Along with learning the proper driving line around turns and the physics associated with the car’s limitations, Mattare says, there are the car control techniques and the art of race craft to hone.
Since catching the “racing bug” about five years ago, Mattare says he continues to grow in all dimensions of the sport.
“I’ve quickly progressed to learning how to prep and fix my car, becoming a better driver, getting my race license and then experiencing the thrill of going full throttle with the green flag waving in a 30-car grid rushing into turn one,” he says.
“It’s absolutely the funnest thing I’ve ever done.”