Team USA Scholarship winner Josh Green sends his first report after arriving in the UK, then taking part in both a test day and a regional Formula Ford race event with Cliff Dempsey Racing at Oulton Park.
And so we begin our journey to England! Scott (Huffaker) and I met up with the very kind Michelle Dempsey at the airport in London on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and then made our way to the Cliff Dempsey Racing shop in Corby, which is about 90 miles north-northwest of London.
It was a wonderful feeling weaving our way through the green English countryside on our way to meet team owner Cliff. We immediately began getting fitted in the cars and trying on our brand new gear from Sparco and Bell Helmets. It was quick and easy with the form-fitting material and apparel we were given, and Cliff soon got us both comfortable.
We left early Thursday on a 130-mile journey to a wet Oulton Park, and spent the day making all the usual pre-weekend preparations. We both got in our cars on Friday for our first shakedown test, for which we had a mix of conditions which was useful. My brand new CDR-prepared Ray chassis danced around a slick Oulton Park with ease.
The track itself is one of the most daunting in the country. With undulating hills and all nature of high and low speed corners, it’s unlike anything Scott and I had visited in the USA. The car is a stiff and stable platform, though, and dances left and right at the limit — especially in the wet. It’s really a nice car to drive.
We acclimated quickly to the team, and it was a great environment to be in. Michelle’s wonderful cooking paired with Cliff’s dialed-in cars made for an unbeatable experience at the track.
Saturday morning brought our first timed sessions and our first opportunity to see where we stacked up against the new (to us) British competition. The weekend was seen as more of a test as it was a small regional event — a round of the BRSCC Avon Tyre Formula Ford 1600 Northern Championship — but there were several drivers there who we will be racing against in the coming weeks, so it was a great opportunity to acclimate ourselves.
The primary focus was track time, but we were happy to learn we had both done well when I qualified on pole with a half-second gap on the rest of the field with Scott a close third to round out a great first session.
Race 1 was similar. Cliff requested us to start from pit lane — to gain a better understanding of how to work through slower cars — and Scott and I found our way up to eighth and ninth respectively in the 20-car field, setting the first and second fastest laps, with one thousandth between us and nearly a second clear of the field.
The same followed in Race 2, starting from pit lane again, finding our way to fourth and fifth in a reduced 15-car field, first and third quickest.
We then headed back to the Dempsey abode with our heads held high to prepare for a trip to Italy for a number of new experiences.
Once again, from both Scott and I, a huge thank-you to all those at the Team USA Scholarship and everyone who is behind it. This has been and will continue to be a memorable experience, and we are honored to have been given the chance.
Until next time,