Below, a first report from Team USA Scholarship winner Scott Huffaker, who, with teammate Josh Green, landed in the UK on Oct. 9, then took part in both a test day and one-day/two-race regional Formula Ford event in a Cliff Dempsey Racing-prepared Ray at Oulton Park.
Josh (Green) and I arrived in England last Wednesday, met Michelle and Cliff Dempsey for the first time, and then immediately got to work, driving up to Oulton Park on Thursday. The plan was for us to compete in a local race so we could get familiar with how the (BRSCC FF1600) series is organized in England.
I knew the track layout from driving it on a sim, but getting there and actually walking the track gave me a real appreciation for how unforgiving it is.
Friday we had four practices, each one 20 minutes long; the first was in the pouring rain. After a few laps learning the car, I started to push to get a feel for how it behaved. The first thing I noticed was how much grip it had in the wet conditions; I was able to place it just about anywhere with ease. The car and track were a blast to drive, and, when Josh and I came back into the paddock, we both had huge grins.
We then immediately began cleaning the cars for the upcoming second practice.
As the day progressed, we continued to get more and more comfortable with the limits of the car and track. We were able to practice in all conditions, and by the time we got to the final practice, the track was completely dry. In the wet, we had good pace compared to the local drivers, but in the dry we were a second off the leaders.
Our first time on track Saturday was qualifying and it was damp. This was the first time on new tires and they were amazing in the tricky conditions: We were able to qualify first and third. When it came to race time, the track was dry with the exception of one corner, Druids, which was sheltered by trees. I had been hoping for rain, but because it was only a shakedown race I knew it would be good to get some more experience with the car in the dry.
Cliff decided we should start from the pit lane for both the races given that it was more for practice and because we had not practiced standing starts. Immediately from pit lane, we started moving up the field, eventually finishing eighth and ninth. Feeling good about our performance, we debriefed with Cliff by looking through data and videos trying to find where we could improve coming to Race 2.
The final race we started again from the pit lane and once more immediately started working through the field. We took the feedback that Cliff had given us and applied it to finish fourth and fifth, again being the fastest cars on track.
Looking back at the weekend, I would say it was a success! We accomplished all we needed to, and had a great time working with the new team and enjoying Michelle’s great cooking. For an initial weekend, we know we can leave with our heads high and get right on to prep for upcoming test days at Donington and Silverstone.
The day after the race we were still jet-lagged so we decided to not do much more besides watch the Formula 1 race and the final three races of British Touring Car Championship on TV. Since I’ve been here, I have loved every moment; it has been everything I had hoped it would be, and I am excited to move on to our next adventures!
Until next time,