THE AMAZING RACER
The East Bay has produced a number of notable race car drivers, including four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Now, meet the newest racetrack star, Danville’s Colin Mullan.
By Rachel Orvino
While most 5-year-olds are playing Little League baseball or running around the soccer field, Colin Mullan was strapped into a quarter midget (a small-scale midget race car), driving 40 miles an hour on an oval track in Livermore.
Born and raised in Danville, the now 20-year-old Mullan has turned that early need for speed into a career in sports car racing. Among his accolades: He became the youngest winner of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at age 16; won the Team USA Scholarship, which earned him a month racing Formula Ford cars in England while still a junior at San Ramon Valley High School; and more recently, raced with the Andretti Autosport team, where he and codriver Jarett Andretti won the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Silver championship in 2020. Mullan is also currently earning a mechanical engineering degree at Ohio State University.
Here, Mullan discusses his passion for racing, support for the Danville d’Elegance Foundation, and love of cars (in his off-track hours, he drives a 1999 BMW wagon and a 2002 Honda S2000 that is “as old as I am,” he says, with a laugh).
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?
When I was 3 years old, I happened to see a NASCAR race on TV and was hooked. Luckily I had parents who supported that passion. I started racing quarter midgets in Livermore and San Jose when I was 5 years old. … It was pretty crazy, but also super cool to have such a great entry point 20 minutes away from our house. After that, it was always a question of, How do we keep moving up to bigger and faster things?
Colin Mullan’s passion for racing was born in the East Bay.
HOW DID LIVING IN THE EAST BAY IMPACT YOUR LOVE OF DRIVING?
I attribute growing up in Danville to my love for cars. Ever since I was 5, I brought [quarter midget cars and mini cups] to local car shows. Recently, I had a lot of involvement with the Danville d’Elegance Foundation, fundraising for Parkinson’s research. I have two family members who were afflicted by Parkinson’s. When I was 19, I brought the race trailer for the team I was with at the time and the car I had just raced at Laguna Seca to the Concours d’Elegance show. It was great to have the support of the people in the community and give back to that cause. The Bay Area also has these wonderful roads, everything up to Sonoma and down to Monterey. We couldn’t live in a much better place for driving.
WHAT RACERS DO YOU ADMIRE?
Jeff Gordon was always my favorite driver growing up, especially having that Bay Area connection. The person who built the quarter midget race cars I drove built Gordon’s when he was starting out. You can see his legacy at some of the places where we both started.
WHAT APPEALS TO YOU MOST ABOUT RACING?
Beyond the speed and the cars, it’s such a challenge. You only have so much road to manage on the track; you have to figure out the quickest way to drive the line. On top of that, you are trying to figure out how to make the car faster. It’s an engineering challenge unto itself. There is so much going on at once—and you are going 170 miles an hour.
For more information on Colin Mullan and his racing career, visit colinmullan.com.