Racing driver, Jonathan Mogotsi has enjoyed notable success on the race track since winning the Volkswagen Driver Search competition in 2016; his journey and love for racing, however, dates back to the late 1990s.
Zwartkops, South Africa – Growing up in Hammanskraal before moving to Johannesburg meant that early life was simple for Jonathan Mogotsi. “Simple, but great”, he recalls.
“My entire childhood memory centred around roaming the streets with my friends, building forts at constructions sites, riding bikes and just generally causing havoc. From the age of 10, my father and I would go on long drives together where he taught me and showed me the basics of driving, so my love for cars started very young,” said Mogotsi.
Mogotsi was hooked on racing after he attended his first race at a Super Trucks event at Kyalami in the late 1990s.
“The atmosphere, the distinct smell and sonorous soundtrack is something I’ll never forget.”
His lack of resources didn‘t stop young Mogotsi from dreaming, from pretending and from using something he did have access to – video games – to fuel his desire to race.
“Gaming enabled me to dream and fantasise about driving any car I wanted. It was an escape and still is, to a certain extent.”
Later on, he figured: “If pilots can train on a flight simulator, then the same can be done with racing simulators”.
After proving his abilities on the simulator, where he was discovered by Volkswagen, Mogotsi had the opportunity to put his theory to the test and see how he would fare in a real car, on a real track. His world opened up to a whole new level of the excitement that comes with a close race, coupled with the aural pleasures from the engines and the smell of fuel. And that was it for Mogotsi.
“I was 18 years old when I told my grandmother that I want to be a racing driver. Her immediate response was, ‘A what? No man you’re too old for that’, but I am resourceful and results-oriented and didn’t let limitations stop me. Even if I don’t have the means to do something, I trust that it will be done one way or another – don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon! Needless to say, my grandmother is one of my biggest supporters today.”
“When I was discovered by Volkswagen and joined their Motorsport team, my life changed. The Volkswagen Motorsport Academy is a wonderful opportunity that I think we all have been crying out for. It’s not only affordable but is easily accessible to those that have a keen interest to not only improve their driving skills but also to get involved in motorsport as a whole.“
Mogotsi takes his racing career seriously and being a Business Analyst by profession; he uses his expertise to review and interpret the data after every practice or race, to see where improvements can be made.
“As far as racing goes, my end goal is to win the 24-hour Le Mans,” he says, “but alongside that, I want to be able to give back to the community through mentoring and coaching.”
“I want to encourage youngsters: don’t be afraid of failure when chasing your dreams, because, without this failure, you will not learn how to succeed. Use your disadvantages to fuel your hunger and determination for success,“ concluded Mogotsi.
The Volkswagen Motorsport Academy has been running several courses throughout 2019 that are available to the broader and upcoming motorsport communities. Participants in all the courses stand a chance to be selected for a final shootout in November where the winner could end up with a chance to join to the official Volkswagen factory team.