A Look Inside the Success of DEForce Racing
 February 12, 2021| 
  • Series News
David and Ernesto Martinez were anything but newcomers when they formed DEForce Racing and joined the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires in 2017. The nephew-uncle duo brought years of racing experience to their Houston-based team, which fields squads in both the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

David Martinez, 39, enjoyed a successful 20-year driving career, culminating in two top-10 finishes in the 2010 NTT INDYCAR SERIES – including a ninth-place finish in his series debut at his home race in Mexico City. Ernesto Martinez, 36, founded Falcone GP driver development to help young drivers move up from karting to open-wheel racing and sports cars, representing Mexico in the Rotax World Finals on 10 different occasions. But it wasn’t until 2017 that the pair decided to join forces and form DEForce Racing.

“Ernesto is my dad’s half-brother, which makes him my uncle, but he’s younger than me and more like a brother,” said Martinez. “We grew up together when we were young, until I started racing. We had a special bond and always wanted to do something together, so when my racing career finished, we decided to form the team. I was already in Houston and had a very good relationship with the MSR Houston track – it was where I did my first Champ Car test. I had a small school there and was coaching two young drivers, and they wanted to go racing – and they wanted to go racing with us. So, we decided to do it ourselves.”

Those two drivers – Houston native Kory Enders and Mexican-born San Antonio resident Moises de la Vara – began with the team’s USF2000 squad in 2018. That season saw the team’s first big breaks, as DEForce earned its first pole position at St. Pete (with Jose Sierra), while Enders captured their first Road to Indy podium at Portland, both in USF2000. Enders and de la Vara both moved up to Indy Pro 2000 in 2019.

2020 was a breakout year for the team, with multiple victories, podiums and poles across both series. They captured their first Road to Indy victory in Indy Pro 2000 with Manuel Sulaiman at Mid-Ohio, and the young Mexican added another victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park to finish sixth in the title chase while Canadian Parker Thompson earned four podium finishes on his way to a seventh-place finish in the final standings.

In USF2000, young Brazilian Kiko Porto earned his first series victory at St. Pete and garnered two pole positions to finish 10th in the title chase despite missing five races. Teammate Cameron Shields added two podiums to the team’s tally.

“Getting our first Road to Indy wins is definitely the headline for last year,” said Martinez. “2020 was quite a challenge. We put in so much preparation into the season, then everything got put on hold and no one knew what would happen. It was difficult, with lots of ups and downs, but it was such a breakthrough season for us, with multiple pole positions and victories across two series. It proved that the entire team was strong and that speaks highly of our work. We’re looking forward to continuing that momentum this year.

“We’ve set ourselves a benchmark and we want to go for the championships this year. We’ve tested a lot of drivers this winter and have announced four USF2000 drivers – Kiko Porto, Nolan Siegel,  Ely Navarro and Prescott Campbell – with more announcements to come.”

While Martinez is pleased with the team’s development on track, the professionalism in the details remains as important as ever, as does the attitude inside the tent. “Fun” and “family” are two words you hear often in the DEForce vocabulary.

“Ernesto and I are very close – we’re family. He missed the season finale because they were having their third child and we really missed his presence. Family is important to us and we’re a family inside the tent, with all the team and the drivers. I think it makes a difference in how we do things.”

The Martinez duo brings a wealth of racing experience, information and background to their drivers, and David Martinez feels that is one of the foremost reasons for the team’s success.

“It’s very important that we’ve created this synergy, between Ernesto and I. We’re both very successful in racing and, as former drivers, the team’s drivers know that we understand them. I think they appreciate that and it’s helped us reach our potential. We’re a relatively new team but we’ve been around for a very long time.”
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