Team USA Scholarship winners Scott Huffaker and Josh Green concluded a busy second week in Europe with a memorable trip to Italy, Formula Ford testing at both Donington Park and Snetterton, and even time for a little sightseeing and shopping in London. Here is Scott’s Sunday-night take:
Late Tuesday night Josh and I arrived back in England from our trip to Italy. We had a great time visiting the Lamborghini factory on Monday and the Dallara factory Tuesday. It was incredible to gain a first-hand insight into how the road and race Lamborghinis are hand-built, one at a time; and all of the precision, technology and preparation that goes into producing Dallara’s huge range of race cars, from Formula 1 to IndyCars, Indy Lights cars, sports cars and small-formula classes.
On our way to the airport we stopped by the Ferrari museum in Maranello to complete our memorable journey. It was so cool to see another country for the first time and sample some great Italian food!
Wednesday, we left with the Dempsey team to go to Donington Park (photo above), the track I was most looking forward to. The first thought that comes to mind about Donington is Ayrton Senna’s incredible start in the 1993 British Grand Prix, where he started fourth and progressed to the lead by the end of the first lap — arguably the best single lap ever in the history of F1.
Arriving at Donington, the track was dry which was good as we had little running in dry conditions during our previous visit to Oulton Park and it would allow us to get a good feeling for the car. The track was immediately one of my favorites, with a great mix of corners and elevation change. The test day was fairly standard; we accomplished everything we needed to on the basis of pace and consistency. Next up was Snetterton.
The drive to Snetterton, in Norfolk, was the longest journey we had to make this month, and it was only two hours away! There are so many tracks within such a small distance it makes traveling so much easier than back home. When we arrived at the hotel, though, it took us forever to figure out how to turn the lights on. We turned every switch on and off, but nothing worked. Frustrated, we decided to go ask the front desk but on our way out we stumbled upon a small box by the door. We tried pressing on it and opening it until we decided to press the key to the room against it. All of the lights came on at once! Finally we could work on getting to sleep.
The first session on Friday was damp. The track was very long so it was difficult to get up to speed. The second session was completely dry so we had to change all of the references we had learned in the first practice, but I unfortunately got a puncture so was unable to make the most of the session. The third practice was in full wet conditions which was something we had not yet driven in. The final session was damp, but it got cut short because of a big storm that rapidly took over the track.
In that session, when I approached Turn 1 (Riches) the track was almost completely dry; but when I got to the middle of the corner, I was hit with a wall of water.
At the end of the day, we considered it a success: We got to drive the cars in all conditions which leaves us ready and feeling well prepared for anything the Formula Ford Festival can throw at us.
Sunday we ventured into London to do some shopping and sightseeing. Michelle Dempsey dropped us off at the train station so we could get the full experience by ourselves. First, we walked around the London Eye and Big Ben. Then we decided to walk to Buckingham Palace where we found a street parade going on. Something new for us was all the bells ringing at noon; they made it extremely hard to talk. We then decided to go shopping to get some clothes to help keep us warm on all the windy days. Finally, we headed back to the Dempseys after a relaxing day in the city.
Next, we plan on taking a tour of Ilmor Engineering on Monday, and then finally we get to leave for the Festival on Tuesday to take on the first of the two big events we’ve been waiting for. I can’t wait!