#13: David Cheng – how he met and created a motorsport team with Jackie Chan
Podcast with Host: Jai Shukla & Guest: David Cheng
Q1 – How did you get started – back in 2006?
Started in 2001 – a friend used to race semi-professional – David Cheng fell in love with it. I use to go to my friend’s house and convince them to take me go-karting. Mum wasn’t having any of it – she only saw what’s on TV with the cars flipping, cars on fire. She didn’t want me getting involved in motorsports. So I grew up – got my driver’s license – not to take a shot but to
take it to the next level which was Road track karting. Professional karting races. Working 2 jobs, delivering pizzas and stacking shelves. Karting is expensive too – and bought a 2nd hand 1998 track magic chassis. With a decent road track engine – no rear brakes – it was the first go-kart. So much grip and speed and it’s the perfect training tool. Really enjoyed that time. Never picked up any great results. Got some lucky chances and lucky breaks through my friend’s dad – in karting shoot out opportunities. Got invited to the Formula BMW one – and got a spot in the regional championships – Skip harbor racing school.
Q2 – How would you advise someone to get out of that situation?
Convincing my mum came much later. I’d already been doing it for 2 years before she knew. Kept my karts at Dillon’s house – and my friend’s dad supported me. Said he had to come up with the funds myself. Had a comfortable typical living – but go-karts are $200 a weekend – and the expenses motivated me to start working as a 16-year-old. You have to walk in
blind unless you know people. Find people to guide you. In your teens – you always think you know best. But as a kid I was naive. I dived headfirst in – and tried not to drown. That’s one easy way to push yourself beyond your limits. You need guidance – and pointing in the right direction.
Q3 – How do you find guidance?
At the go-kart tracks – speak to people, try and learn everything you can from them. Understand what it takes – ask what it takes. What is the right next steps? There are always people in the know but you have to take the time to speak to them. Looking in hindsight – the ladder is more simplified and clearer. Karting to F4, F3 all the way to F1. There are more ladders – and a lot of sponsorship money.
Q4 How did you get into e-racing?
Electric cars are at the forefront of the industry. With the government backing renewable energy. Especially due to traffic. The government is pushing for e-cars. It’s picking up momentum. Formula E – when it first started, of course, was much easier to get into but now you have some big names coming in. The budgets increases and becomes harder as a privateer. I think it’s the future – racing and industry will go towards zero emissions. Racing industry follows of the auto racing industry. Cars are more equal as it’s newer. Everyone wants to see a good race.
Q5 – How did you become a team owner and get to know Jackie Chan?
David Cheng had a history teacher – he uses to race too. China has a lot of opportunities as it is playing catch up in motorsports in some ways so I wanted to get involved. Jackie Chan – you have to listen to the podcast for this part!
Q6 – What is your strengths and weaknesses?
Tenacity. Never give up. What we don’t show is the hard days. As a business, it’s so hard and if I did anything else I really believe I could really make it. You have to do it because you love it. You have to have the passion to be in the industry.