“Live your prime now,” said TKO Motorsports driver Memo Gidley concluded as he balanced his childcare and work duties.
Gidley has been behind the wheel of all types of race cars, from prototypes to open-wheel and GT cars. He’s been a part of racing series at some of the most crucial times in sports history. He was running CART Champ Car right before the merger gave us what is today, INDYCAR.
Gidley was running cars so fast that drivers famously noted forgetting laps they ran at Texas Motor Speedway before the event's cancelation. He ran prototype cars at the height of the P1 and Daytona Prototype cars in the GrandAm series and watched as the crowds diminished upon another merger.
He accumulated wins upon wins by being a driver that could get the job done, full ride or not. But one sunset in 2014, Gidley nearly saw the end of his life and career. Gidley survived his broken back, among other injuries, and made a notable return to the frontlines of the sport with back-to-back victories at Sebring International Raceway in 2022 with TKO Motorsports.
This triumph should never be a surprise to fans. Anyone following Gidley’s story would know he’s been turning up to the track fast since day one.
“I didn’t go to my first race until 20,” Gidley said. “My dad worked in a shipyard, and my mom was a teacher. I had the racing bug but stuck to two wheels until my uncle took me to an INDYCAR race at Laguna Seca. I was so naïve to cost, but I was immediately hooked. I knew that I wanted to race cars.
“While there, I saw an ad for a racing school. If you worked as a mechanic for a year, you'd get a free year at the school. So, I started in the Formula Mazda at the school. I even earned college credit for racing.”
After completing racing school, Gidley did what many drivers do, go-kart. At 26, he won the SKUSA Supernationals in Las Vegas with a Trackmagic Kart. Trackmagic gave Gidley his connection to Marty Moran, who introduced Memo to Dave Traitel owner of TKO Motorsports. This friendship with Dave Traitel was initially designed for coaching in go-karting.
After Gidley’s 2014 accident, Traitel was the first person to put Gidley back behind the wheel. His continued belief in Gidley has never gone awry. Gidley followed up the Supernationsals win with a pole win and second-place finish in his debut Shelby CanAm Series race that hosted nearly 30 entries. Wins followed.
“He’s one of those guys that enjoys every second of racing,” Gidley said. “He’s so supportive. I’ll get out of the car, and he’ll say, man, I love watching you drive. It’s a really cool relationship. He wants to see me achieve my dreams.
That’s been one of the highlights of my career. Every couple of years you have a person or persons that enter your life that furthered the story. People that support you and help you out.”
In 2023, Gidley has a championship to win. He will run the No. 101 Pinenut Ranch Land and Cattle Co./ Radical Northwest Mercedes- AMG GT3 of TKO Motorsports in the SRO3 Class of the GT America powered by AWS series. The first race is the St. Petersburg Grand Prix on March 3-5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The last race Gidley ran on the street course was in 2005, but he recalled the specifics as though it was yesterday.
“It’s sort of hybrid road course and street course,” Gidley said. “It certainly has those areas where its wall-to-wall concrete. But turns one into two is more normal, more like a road course, and the same with Turn 13 and Turn 14. So, there’s some room for error and room for passing. It’s great for fans because you have the excitement with the street course but will still see some side-by-side racing.
“I’ll also say this, there are guys in this field that may not have INDYCAR experience and all that, which is fine, but they have 10 years in a car, and they’re good. They’re fast. I love that you have names you know and names you don’t know, and they’re all competitive.”
Tickets are still available for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. For fans watching from home, follow the YouTube page GT World. Give SROMOTORSPORTS a follow-on Twitch to watch races live-streamed throughout the season.