It had been over three years since Curtis Neumann sat behind the wheel of a racecar at Citrus County Speedway. This past week he returned for a test run before competing in Saturday night’s King of the Open Wheel 100.
"I’m filling in for the man who taught me everything," Neumann said after climbing out of the racecar. "It’s good to be back."
He competed in the No. 01 Open Wheel Modified racecar owned by his father, Herb Neumann Jr.
"He can’t be in it anymore and I know how much he loves (racing)," Curtis Neumann said.
He added that along with his father he too has been dealing with medical issues that have kept him out of the racing circuit for the last few years, but that it felt good to get behind the wheel of a racecar, especially at CCS where he got his start.
"It’s like riding a bike," he said. "It’s amazing how fast it comes back to you."
Neumann is a third-generation racecar driver with a strong family race history. His grandfather, Herb Neumann Sr., has deep roots in go-karts, and competed at the Inverness stock car venue earning a championship in the Sportsman division in 1998.
His uncle, George Neumann, followed suit with 15 championships in go-karts before coming to Florida and earning four Mini Stock championships and 10 top 10 overall finishes at CCS.
Meanwhile his father earned the Duffy Trophy after winning the Grand National Championship with the International Kart Federation, and went on to win more than a dozen championship titles throughout the Sportsman, Super Late Model, Open Wheel Modified and Wingless Sprint series, with 20 top-three and 22 top-10 finishes at CCS.
With a career that spans back to when he was just 14 in the Hobby Stock division, Curtis Neumann set out to make a name of his own and, after three years and one top-10 finish in the championship standings, he moved to the Open Wheel Modified division where he earned two back-to-back championship titles, two top-three, three top-five and five top-10 finishes along with a two-track shootout championship, Rookie of the Year and a top-two finish in the Gulfcoast Modified Series. He’s a former Eddie Brann Memorial winner.
Neumann continued his passion of the sport into college earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and moved to North Carolina to work with NASCAR’s Research and Development Center’s engineers manufacturing templates within the top three NASCAR series.
He has developed SFI-certified racing seats and fuel components within the racing sector, and has started his own company developing suspension parts.
"I started with one product and have been building from there," Neumann said. "I would rather design my own stuff and sell it than distribute other people’s products."
It is through his company, Neuline, that he entered the racing business sector.
"What’s been awesome is meeting all the people in that end of it," he said. "Ray Evernham, Tommy Baldwin, I’ve been to their shops and to their houses. It’s given me a lot of opportunities."
On Saturday, Neumann brought his experience and family talent to Citrus County Speedway to compete in the inaugural King of the Open Wheel 100.
"The car felt comfortable," Neumann said earlier in the week. "I think we’ll be pretty competitive come Saturday night. We have to make all the laps, finish the race, and dodge all the chaos. We have to survive to the end of the race."
And getting behind the wheel was the first step.
"It’s like the old days," he said. "Once all the nerves go away you just transport back in time. You never realize how much you miss it until you get back into it. There’s nothing like doing what we do."