Fashion designer Luca Orlandi, who has created a high-end Italian women's line of clothing called Luca Luca, spent the past two days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway testing a Star Mazda car.
Playbook stopped him for only a few minutes to ask five questions. He wanted to get back to the track.
How did you get into racing?
The real question is how did I get into fashion? I raced cars as a teen. I've been an Italian champion. I wanted a career as a car racer, but my family was against it. And it was expensive to keep up with the sport. So I finished college and moved to New York and started my fashion career. After 20 years, I'm having a midlife crisis, so I wanted to find a new hobby. I got into racing again.
Why do you love racing so much?
"It's the speed. It's the competition. It's the idea of being a hunter and passing people. I don't worry about what kind of car I have. It's just about the skill. This keeps me grounded."
U.S. racing or European racing, which do you prefer?
"When you compare NASCAR with Europe, it's a whole different world. I've lived in New York City for 20 years, so I've seen NASCAR a lot. It's a totally different skill set. I don't think you'll see many of us Europeans at the Daytona 500. It's a different discipline. The aggressiveness is the same, though."
What's your two days like at Indianapolis?
"I'm pretty serious about it. Even at my age, I need to be in shape to drive around here for two days. I have to train every day for a couple of hours. I'm in better shape now than when I was 20 years old. I don't consider this a vacation. I don't want to make mistakes. It doesn't change my life if I'm first or last. It takes the edge off. You can't take away the racing spirit."
How do you compare this to the fashion world?
"Fashion also is a very competitive business. You have the creative side, which is nice. But then you have the business side, which is cutthroat. In America, for the past 10 years, the New York fashion has become really avant-garde. Before, designers considered New York fashion as leftovers from the other side of the ocean. They would just knock off the European creation. But now New York has become the hub of fashion, and the number of young designers in New York is unmatched anywhere. It's like in racing. Before, you would have three or four good drivers chasing a championship. Now, out of 25 drivers, there are at least 22 talented drivers. That's what New York has become."