Physician-Racing Driver Enjoys Smooth Sailing through Careers

Jay Patel, M.D., an interventional radiologist with Franciscan St. Margaret Heath-Dyer and Hammond, is making even more of a name for himself in Sports Car Club of America national competition, recently defeating two professional racing drivers to win a prestigious event.

“The race was in the SCCA Majors Series. This is where the best amateurs (Patel’s ranking) and semipros and pros race,” he said. “Although it was my first race of the year, I beat two professional drivers for the top spot -- they being a NASCAR (National Association of for Stock Car Auto Racing) driver and a three-time SCCA national champion and World Challenge driver.”

The contest was the inaugural BF Goodrich SCCA Majors race and the first SCCA event ever conducted at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the newest and one of best Formula 1 tracks in the world, Patel said.

“To have the inaugural win at this prestige race track puts me in the history books as the first winner at this track in my class. I have not raced in a national race in over nine months and while winning national races is tough, to win a Majors race is even tougher. Moreover, to win a BF Goodrich Majors race, at an inaugural race, at a track designed to challenge the best drivers in the world, on my first outing in nine months, with the competition that I had, is priceless.”

Patel attributed the win to being patient, precise and having the knowledge to gauge “when to go for it.”

“As I tell people, racing is like taking care of an emergent patient. The goal in medicine is to save the patient. The goal in racing is to get to the checkered flag first. There are many things that happen in between. You have to take a step back, work and drive at the subconscious level. If you think too much, you will make mistakes.”

While a Corvette and Mustang were dueling for the lead, Patel’s Porsche 911 passed them on the final turn of the last lap to earn the checkered flag.

“They did not even know that I won,” he said.

Patel added he will participate in SCCA Majors and some endurance races, this year against the best amateur and pro drivers, including in the National Championship race at the end of the season.

“My goal is to expand my racing resume, gain more exposure so as to attract more sponsors and move to racing in the United Sports Car Racing series,” he said.

But medicine remains his first love and priority.

“Being a doctor will always come first,” he said.