Aussies Of The Bay – James Chartres

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

James Chartres, Chief Engineering, Millennium Engineering and Integration Services,  NASA Ames Research Center, San Jose.

James is also the owner and race car driver of Kanga Motorsports an amateur road racing team competing with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

I moved to the SF Bay Area in November 2007. I met the NASA Ames Center Director while I was studying in Europe and he asked if I would like to work at NASA. How can you turn that opportunity down? I said, yes! Then I packed up for the United States. I started working and loved it. I have now been here for over 10 years.

Hardest thing about moving here?

The hardest thing was leaving friends and family behind. Next to that, getting all the paperwork in place including the work Visa took some time.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

There are so many great SF Bay Area memories. I enjoy the region for all the activities that you can go and do. From hiking through Redwoods to scuba diving the kelp forests. Perhaps my most favorite memory was the first time I got to race on the world-famous race track Laguna Seca that I used to drive on video games as a kid.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

Most people like Australian people and/or have had a great experience in Australia, so it has helped to start conversations and open up opportunities.

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

I have been in the US for a while so I have been lucky to have lots of amazing experiences. Several that come to mind include watching NASCAR in person, experiencing live Ice Hockey games, exploring Yellowstone National Park, driving the California Coast and hiking half dome in Yosemite.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

If you get the opportunity, take it. You never know what doors it might open. The most important thing to do is get all the paperwork in place before you come over. Then make the most of it by seeking out new experiences and exploring.

Any additional thoughts?

If anyone is interested in seeing motorsports up close, we are racing 27-29 July at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA. My car has a big Kangaroo on the front so you can’t miss it. Come by, say hello, get a selfie sitting in the race car and watch some great wheel to wheel action. There is only a small $5 fee for entering the county park after that the entry for the racing is free. Kids and Family friendly.


Christian Thurston


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