On the Fast Track

Sunday, October 27, 2013

With this need for speed, Kopper, president and chief executive officer of Kenosha-based centrifuge manufacturer Centrisys, began racing cars around age 40 after a lifetime of admiration for the sport.

"I was interested in racing as a child being born in Germany very close to one of the very famous racetracks in Germany," said Kopper, who grew up near the Nürburgring racetrack located in Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

But Kopper doesn't race to win so much as he does for the fun and camaraderie of time spent on the track. His style of racing is known as "gentlemen racing," in which drivers will let faster cars pass them during races to avoid collisions.

As a gentleman racer, Kopper belongs to two amateur car clubs, the Audi Club of America and LAPS Inc., each of which rent tracks throughout the Midwest where members can test out their speeds and practice their driving before racing one another.

"We all enjoy driving cars fast and because in the U.S. we can't drive cars fast on the street…we enjoy doing that on a closed racetrack where we are safe and secure," Kopper said.

Within each club, Kopper also serves as a driving instructor, teaching students how to handle cars in extreme situations and severe weather.

Outside the clubs, he races go-karts at tracks across the country.

Taking the wheel is a stress reliever for Kopper, even though as he accelerates his adrenaline flows and the sport puts him into moments of high pressure that command his full concentration.

"You need to concentrate 100 percent on your driving (on the track), and you can think about nothing else except your driving," Kopper said. "Sometimes when you run a business that can be very challenging, but it's something that you need to do."