Thursday, July 18, 2024

LSUS graduate in hot pursuit of racing dream 

by BIZ Magazine

Landan Matriano Lim posed for a pretty standard graduation photo.

Decked out in his robe and mortarboard cap, Matriano Lim held his LSU Shreveport diploma and smiled.

But instead of shaking the chancellor’s hand on a graduation stage, his other hand held a racing helmet, and he was standing in front of a race car with mint-green accents bearing his name.

Matriano Lim, who completed a double major in management and marketing in just three years, is in hot pursuit of a professional racing career.

“It’s been really hard,” Matriano Lim said of balancing a demanding academic load while launching his racing career. “I’d take 18 hours most semesters, and I’d get all my assignments listed out for the week and finish them as early as I could.

“Then I’d leave on a Thursday or a Friday to go race while also fitting in time on the training simulator throughout the week. I found that working out in the early morning gets the blood flowing so I could get all that work done.”

Matriano Lim signed with Jensen Global Advisors this year and is competing in the Formula 4 United States Championships, which is a developmental series for young drivers to acclimate themselves to race cars.

The Shreveport native has steadily improved in his first F4 season, and he’ll get another chance for his first top-10 finish this weekend at the New Jersey Lottery SpeedTour.

Most drivers use F4 as a transition to race cars from “karting,” which is racing go-kart style vehicles.

Except Matriano Lim never really kart-raced, just messed around behind the wheel of a rental kart while his dad test-drove his sportscar at the New Orleans Motorsports Park.

“The first sports car my dad had was a Lotus Elise, and he saw an advertisement that you can drive your sportscar on a race track,” Matriano Lim said. “He’d bring me down there and I’d drive the go-karts when I was younger. As I got older, I wanted to go drive and have fun with my dad on the race track.”

Matriano Lim enjoyed driving go-karts, but he was much more serious in another sport – gymnastics.

The Jill’s Gymnastics product competed for 13 years as an all-around gymnast, particularly enjoying the rings and parallel bars. Both events involve holding one’s body in certain poses along with twists and spins, engaging every muscle group imaginable.

“I competed my whole life starting from about age six in what I consider the hardest sport in the world,” Matriano Lim said of gymnastics. “The rings were my favorite, partially because it’s one of the most difficult events.

“The strength and control of your body that it takes – I love that.”

Matriano Lim was packing his bags for the state competition in his senior season when COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 meet – which effectively ended his gymnastics career.

“I decided that I didn’t want to be a college gymnast because it’s so hard on your body when you do it for so long, but I still had that competitive spirit,” Matriano Lim said. “I always wanted to do something and win at something.”

The Loyola College Prep student spent his free time at the end of his senior year becoming more serious about driving, eventually joining a racing club in the National Automotive Sports Association.

Now came the decision about college – take a gap year, go off somewhere to college, or stay close to home?

“I decided to go to LSUS because by staying at home, it would allow me to put more time into racing,” Matriano Lim said. “At that point, it was just something I did for fun, but then I did start wanting to be more competitive.

“I was already taking dual enrollment classes through LSUS at Loyola, which is one of the reasons I was able to finish with a double major in three years.”

Matriano Lim was making headway in club racing, scoring a feature race victory in Houston on top of impressing at racing camps.

He wanted to give professional racing a spin, and the next step in that journey was Formula 4.

The 21-year-old does stick out in a field where the majority of his competitors are around 17, but given that he didn’t start racing until a couple of years ago, he’s ahead of schedule.

“I loved it so much that I wanted to pursue this as a career,” Matriano Lim said. “F4 is the entry branch into everything professional in this sport.

“My ultimate goal is to be a paid driver, to have a team behind me that works on the car and puts their trust in me as the driver to put the entire team on the podium.”

A typical Formula 4 weekend involves test and qualifying sessions and three 30-minute races – totaling about four hours of track time in each event.

Matriano Lim is finishing 15th-19th in most races in 30-racer fields.

His most memorable moment of his rookie season was his first moment – racing at the NOLA Motorsports Park where his infatuation with driving began on those rental karts.

“It was my 21st birthday, and I had a couple of friends come to the race since it was in the state,” Matriano Lim said. “That was very special.”

Success in Formula 4 could mean moving up the ladder, eventually landing in the world-wide Formula 1 series or the U.S.-based IndyCar circuit.

The next step would be Formula Regionals in the U.S. or perhaps move over to the IndyCar ladder with USF Pro or IndyLight.

But even if Matriano Lim’s pursuit doesn’t end in checkered flags on racing’s biggest stages, he’s got a strong backup plan.

Somehow he found the time to dabble in intramural sports at LSUS (volleyball was his favorite), which led to the idea of opening a sports center in Shreveport that provided a space for all types of games.

“There are a lot of places to go work out, but unless you’re at LSUS or some school, there aren’t really many indoor places to play basketball or volleyball or other sports,” Matriano Lim said. “I love to be able to play games and channel my competitiveness that way instead of with repetitive workouts.

“My idea is keeping fitness fun by playing a game.”

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