Rookie driver from Surrey speeding to the podium

SURREY — Like many young boys, Tony Pregal had dreams of being a race car driver.

But unlike most, he pursued his dream as soon as he got the chance.

Pregal is on the board of directors of the BMW Car Club of B.C. and enjoys driving the German vehicles in his leisure time as well as on the track. His race car is a BMW 330i while he drives a BMW M Roadster on the weekends.

Even before he was racing, Pregal would take his own vehicle to the track and practice in his own car.

The rookie driver is relishing his time at Mission Raceway, racking up nine points so far this season.

With only two events remaining, Pregal has an opportunity to win the IP1 division.

The final races take place this weekend (Oct. 11-12) at Mission Raceway and Pregal is excited for the finale.

"It’s an incredible feeling.It’s like being a 12-year-old kid again and getting your first 10-speed. It’s like Christmas every day that I get to race. I get butterflies and a big smile on my face," he said.

Pregal is the son of an immigrant family and wasn’t able to pursue his dream of racing until now.

The IP1 division is for cars with factory-built engines and very little work done to the car.

This means Pregal is racing against Corvettes and other sports cars that have larger engines than his 3 series.

However, he believes the fall event is his to win because the weather plays in his favour.

"In the rain when you’re competing against a car with higher horsepower, he can’t put all that horsepower to the ground. You basically have to drive your car like you have eggshells under your feet.

"You have to be very very smooth applying your power, applying gas so you don’t spin out. You have to be very very smooth applying the brakes so you don’t skid out of control when you’re trying to slow the car down," said Pregal.

He went on to say that his BMW has even weight distribution and can handle the elements better than any sports car and much better than the van he drives during the week.

The Pregal family has made race days a family outing as Tony’s three daughters and "nervous" wife sit in the stands and cheer him on.

He said that it is nice to have adult daughters who look up to him as a race car driver and he said he gets some attention when they post photos of him on social media.

Pregal is currently sitting in fourth place in the standings and could potentially end the season in first.

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