Lead Instructor, Nate Tennis, is a Washington State native who grew up surrounded by the sport of rally. He is one of the few people who can claim that they have been at DirtFish since the very beginning. He now heads-up the instruction department, creating and managing the driving programs that our customers see every day. If you’re ever looking to reminisce about the “good ole days” of rally, Nate is the man to talk to (especially if you want to talk about Saabs…)!
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I am a Northwest native, raised in a small town called Carnation, not far from DirtFish.
How did you get involved in the sport of rally?
My aunt and uncle are both involved in the sport, so I was around it from a young age helping them (win!). The shop my uncle worked at had several guys who rallied as well and being that it was my first job I hung around and learned about vehicle prep and what it takes to rally. I found my first rally car on the “For Sale” board hung in the shop, and was able to get hand-me-down parts, tires, and help from the guys at the shop.
What made you want to be a driving instructor?
I had some experience instructing on tracks prior to DirtFish, and I really enjoyed being able to share high performance driving concepts and techniques with people, and love teaching. Being able to do this in a rally environment is literally a dream come true.
What made you choose DirtFish over any other driving school?
I first heard about DirtFish before the name was even chosen; at that time the school was just being formulated, and with my previous rally experience and a huge amount of passion for the sport, I wanted in.
And, why rally over other motorsports?
Because it is by far the best! It is the most diverse, approachable, and dynamic of all motorsports. The varied terrains, roads and conditions put far more demand on the drivers and teams than other motorsports, and having to adapt to all of the differences is far more engaging. It is a blend of basically all motorsports, so the competitors have to be well-rounded and capable of blending styles used in multiple disciplines.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Sleep! Actually, my passion for rally runs deep, so in between time with my friends, family, and pup Timo, I work on my personal rally projects.
Do you compete in any racing? If so, what series do you compete in? What kind of car do you race?
I’ll compete in any type of racing I can, but my true passion is rallying so I attempt to focus my attention there. I have a SAAB 99 that I run in 2WD rally classes regionally, as well as an ‘80’s Audi Coupe Quattro… that will do something someday. I participate in off-road racing as well, having driven a Class 11 car in the Baja 1000 and co-driven in a Trophy Truck.
What is your racing history and background? How long have you been racing?
2017 marked my 20th year of racing, which is also when I began rallying. Since then I have done numerous track events, autocrosses, TSD rallies, rally crosses, rally sprints, off-road races, kart races, basically any opportunity I can find!
What kind of car do you drive daily?
That’s a loaded question… Either a SAAB 9-5 Aero or a 1990 Suzuki Swift (a.k.a. Taylor, Swifty, Kitten Breath, Manliest Vehicle of All Time)
What kind of jams do you listen to while cruising to work in the morning?
Ace of Base (not kidding- it’s the cassette tape stuck in the Swift’s radio). Otherwise, it varies, but would probably have to throw up some devil horns and say classic rock.
What else should the DirtFish fans know about you?
I’m a Leo, and I like long walks on the beach… actually, I will admit that I am a huge rally nerd and completely love the sport and its history. I spend/have spent years reading books and watching rally movies and will talk at length to anyone who’ll listen about the drivers, cars, and events.