You can’t slip on Porsche 944 oil when the 944s are behind you!
Exactly a year ago, I started writing an article titled, “How to trust your learning process when it seems different from everyone else’s.” It was a post about trusting the process when the process doesn’t seem to be working. (By “the process” I mean the process of slowly working away at something over time and eventually seeing results.) I never finished it because I didn’t have any proof that the process did work. Lots of things happened in the year since I started that piece, but one thing that didn’t happen was getting faster at Roebling. No matter what I did, my lap times were stuck in the 1:31s, which was perpetually about eight seconds slower than the front of the pack.
Until this event, where I ran a 1:28.7, which was 2.3 seconds faster than I’d ever gone before. In racing, that’s an eternity. The curse of Robleing was broken, and somehow I unlocked a year’s worth of progress in a day. Aside from that progress, it was just a good weekend. The weather was finally warmer, and I spent less time huddled by the heater in the trailer and more time outside laughing with friends. I finally had the kind of weekend I imagined I’d have when I first decided to become a race car driver. Continue reading
Look at me running in the top 10!
I was so excited for this race. First, because it was at my favorite track, Road Atlanta. And second, because it was supposed to rain and I love racing in the rain. Road Atlanta and the rain have something in common for me; they’re both situations where I stack up better against the competition. My driving tends to be limited more by my lack of skill than fear. Rain and Road Atlanta both tend to intimidate other drivers more then they intimidate me, which is an advantage for me.
Brad and I have two sets of rain tires, both of which came with my car when we bought it. One set is 7 years old and hard as rocks, but has like-new tread. The other set is 10 years old and has very worn tread, especially on the shoulders. Up until this point, Brad had been racing on the 10 year old set of rain tires and had been reasonably fast on them. However, coming into this race, Brad was in third place in the championship by one point. He knew the driver in 4th had good rain tires, so Brad ordered a new set… which FedEx then lost en route to our tire shop. Being the good teammate that I am, I asked Brad if he thought I could race and not die on his 10 year old tires. When he replied, “Probably,” I offered to let him race on my rain tires, which are 7 years old, hard as rocks, but have lots of good tread. He agreed.
I’m looking pretty good for having crashed into the woods, huh?
(Thanks to Nine Lives Racing for the photo!)
I almost didn’t make it to this event. It felt like the universe was conspiring to keep me off the race track. In September, I lost my job when my entire department was eliminated, and then I promptly wrecked my race car. If that weren’t enough stress, the stacker trailer Brad and I bought to replace our old box truck didn’t work behind our new pickup truck. We weren’t sure if we would be able to transport the cars to our next race, even if I could get my car fixed, all while I was hustling hard for work so we could cover these surprise expenses.
Despite all that, I was determined to get back to racing. I needed to prove to myself that my big crash hadn’t gotten the best me. And somehow, everything managed to fall in to place. I landed a contract consulting gig that was scheduled to start the day after my race at CMP. We found our dream trailer. (More about that on Instagram.) Racing Analytics got the last parts bolted on to my car just in time for me to pick it up at the last possible minute. I was going to make a comeback!
I was so glad I got this chance to prove to myself that I could bounce back. Every so often, I’ll have a weekend where something just clicks and I really make a big improvement in some aspect of racing. At this event, that aspect was my mental toughness. I felt so much more resilient and able to refocus myself, which provided a newfound confidence boost and made me feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.
Many large racing organizations require you to have a competition license to race with them. NASA competition licenses are earned by attending a “competition license school” event, which is really more of a “prove yourself worthy” event than a “school.” The full day event is designed to stress and exhaust comp school students and concludes with a “mock race.” The idea is to demonstrate that not only are the students safe and competent racers, but that they’re safe and competent races when they’re so hot and exhausted they can barely remember their own names.