The learning curve in England his been especially steep for Louisiana’s Aaron Jeansonne, who earned his opportunity with the Team USA Scholarship despite minimal prior experience at the Lucas Oil School of Racing. Yet he has risen to the task and, after being immersed in the culture of racing in the UK and impressing in recent tests, is ready to take on the challenge of this weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone.
What a week and a half it’s been since the Formula Ford Festival! Jonathan and I put some thought into what we could do on our down time while we’re here, and we both figured we had to see London before we left. We definitely made an adventure out of it and walked about 50 miles in three days and saw many sights. I must say the culture was quite different to what I’m used to but it was interesting to see so many cultures from around the world getting along in one big community. Not to mention it was like one giant car show. There were Lamborghinis, Ferraris, McLarens and Bentleys everywhere!
To cap off our visit we had the chance to tour the facility of one of my favorite manufacturers, McLaren. We were able to see some historic cars, both road and Formula 1 (and even a nice soapbox car). We then proceeded to one of the nicest meals I’ve had in a long time. I was very impressed!
We then began preparation to leave for Silverstone but made a quick stop at Wirth Research on the way and turned some laps on their state-of-the-art motion simulator and went over data and everything, as if it was real life. We arrived at Silverstone Tuesday evening to begin testing Wednesday. After the test at Donington last week and then a whole event at the Festival, I was definitely feeling more prepared. I tried to keep the fact that it’s a current Formula 1 circuit out of my mind and treat it as any other track.
As expected, the weather has been cold, but surprisingly dry thus far. I must admit the first couple days I had a more rocky start here than I was hoping for, but I always keep fighting. Jonathan found pace quite quickly and so did my experienced teammates James Raven and Jamie Thorburn, so I had great data to compare myself to. After the third test day, I feel great and know that we are all quite up to speed, including myself, and will have a shot at doing well.
Qualifying and the heat race will be tomorrow, and it looks like rain may be in our future. After running at Brands Hatch, my inner me is actually hoping for rain because I loved it. The team has plenty of resources to prepare us for the wet and I’ve gotten to watch the SAFEisFAST video on wet driving so I can honestly say I would be calm. Regardless of if it rains or not, I plan to execute to the best of my ability and reach the Semi-Final. After that we hope to all reach our main goal – to make the Grand Final (36 cars out of a 116-car entry).
We’re feeling no pressure and are having a great time here. After getting to know Jonathan on our adventure to London, I wouldn’t rather be here with anyone else. Him and I, as well as our other two teammates, are all split up into different heats, with myself being in Group Five out of six. At this point I just don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I am only putting focus on how I can maximize tomorrow and represent Team USA Scholarship and the great supporters well.
I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes, but it’s incredible to be able to say I’ll be racing in the Walter Hayes Trophy this weekend. It’s definitely alongside the Festival for biggest Formula Ford race in the world. I’ll keep everyone updated as things progress.
Thanks so much for reading,