Memo Gidley was born into a family that lived for excitement and adventure. An hour after his birth in La Paz, Mexico, Memo was taken out to the sailboat that would be his home until he was nearly eight years old. Raised by Cass, a hard working commercial fisherman from Canada, and Mary, a freelance writer from Wisconsin, Memo spent his early years on the Pacific Ocean between Mexico and Northern California, accompanied by his two sisters, Lupe and Sharon, and the family dog, Huckleberry. The family lived as “anchor outs” in the San Francisco Bay, maintaining a lifestyle straight out a Steinbeck novel. Eventually, they would move to dry land and the town of San Rafael, California. It was his time spent on the ocean that helped develop a work ethic that would take Memo from seeing his first car race to driving an Indy Car in a mere seven years, less than half the average time of most top-level drivers.
Memo learned to sail and began racing small sailboats at the age of seven. Between the ages of eight and eleven, he had successfully raced BMX bicycles and decided it was time to try racing with a motor. When he was 11, Memo purchased a motocross bike with money he had earned from painting boats around the harbors, and doing odd jobs after school. Memo and Sister Lupe would join Cass on his motorcycle (which would tow a small trailer with Memo’s bike), head out to the races and sleep under the stars. Gidley went on to win multiple 125 and 250cc Championships and continued to travel this way until “the kids grew too large to fit on Dad’s bike.”
Shortly after high school, Memo decided to pursue his dream of racing cars – a dream that was born in 1991 after his uncle, Jon, had taken him to see an IndyCar race at the legendary Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, California. The first time he saw the sleek, gleaming cars race through the world famous “corkscrew” section of the track, he knew what he wanted to spend the rest of life pursuing. Without the money to start his career, he referred to a flyer he had found blowing around the infield of Laguna. Leaving his apartment and moving down to Monterey, Memo enrolled in the mechanics-training program at the Jim Russell Racing School. In exchange for working in the school’s shop, Memo was able to begin driving and raced in the USAC Russell Championship Series. In his first race, Memo surprised the competition by qualifying on pole and leading the race from start to finish. Although it was his rookie season, Memo went on to win the 1992 series championship, winning nine of eleven races. After winning his first championship and graduating from the Mechanics Training Program, Memo moved to San Francisco to race for the Trackmagic Factory Kart team and to continue to pursue his dream of racing cars.
20 years later, Memo has raced virtually everything – from shifter karts to IndyCars, Formula Fords to Daytona Prototypes, American Le Mans GT cars and prototypes, even Jet Skis and schooners. No matter what the format, Gidley brings his tenacious drive and competitive fire, impressing and astounding his crews with his motivation and fitness. Along the way, Gidley has amassed a dedicated following of fans who realize that his engagement and interaction are exceptional even in a social-media-driven world. Memo has built his following the old-fashioned way – one race and one fan at a time.
Memo’s road to the top has garnered more print and television media coverage than most drivers in the sport due to his results, diverse background and because he is a supreme athlete and spokesperson. Memo has many interests that are part of his active and adrenaline-packed lifestyle. He spends his non-racing days working out, racing his shifter kart, riding his mountain bike, racing his Jet Ski, sailing, kayaking, and wakeboarding, to name a few. Known as “Mr. Adrenaline,” if it is exciting, Memo does it.
Memo also enjoys promoting his active and healthy lifestyle. In a day and age of selfish and arrogant celebrity sportsmen, Memo is a breath of fresh air.
Paul Page/ABC Sports: “Gidley has done it right, he is a fan favorite and we received more comments and words of good will about him that just about any other driver in the sport. I think the average fan sees a lot of them in Memo. The kid has a made a career out of overcoming his humble beginnings and every adversity that has ever come his way… he’s the Horatio Alger of Motorsports.”
Robert Ulrich/CEO Target Stores: “Target has been involved with major Motorsports sponsorship for over twelve years. Memo Gidley is one of the most talented drivers and personalities we have ever worked with. He was never too busy for his fans, our employees and our management. He is an above and beyond the call of duty guy and never refused to step up whenever we needed him. Drivers who are this good on the track, at promotions & events and in the boardroom are of a very rare breed. A Memo Gidley is even rarer… he enjoys the process and it always shows. Memo is special and I am proud to have worked with him. He made every one of us look good. I wish we could continue to work with him. This kid deserves the very best.”