Aaron Jeansonne: Reality check...and the 'catio'

Aaron Jeansonne: Reality check...and the 'catio'

Team USA Scholarship

Aaron Jeansonne: Reality check...and the 'catio'

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I know an update is long overdue, but I hope you’re all staying safe and getting through this pandemic. It’s unfortunate to see how much this has negatively impacted all forms of life, including the auto industry and motorsports.

I’ve been enrolled in college pursuing a business degree, and began concentrated business courses this previous semester. I’ve also been working multiple jobs, one as a driving instructor for Xtreme Xperience (getting to ride and drive supercars, which is awesome), and still delivering food for Doordash. Thankfully, Doordash has thrived through the pandemic, so I’ve been able to stay working. And with my classes next semester being strictly online, I will be able to travel for work and racing as needed.

My last blog left off with a podium performance at Brands Hatch with Oldfield Motorsport in last year’s BRSCC National Formula Ford Championship. Shortly afterward I decided to make a transition to pursuing a career in sports cars. I competed in two endurance race events last year, one 14-hour and the other a pair of nine-hour races, in the World Racing League and American Endurance Racing series with Possien-Hall Motorsports. Unfortunately, the team has shut its doors this year but I was able to get tons of laps and valuable experience in its Mazda MX-5 (NC) and we collected a class win in one event and podium in the other.

Of course, there is no better way to dive into the world of sports cars than to get on the Mazda Road to 24 (MRT24) ladder. Having maintained a relationship with Mazda since being a finalist in its 2017 Road to Indy shootout, I was lucky enough to be listed as a nominee, with an opportunity to submit a written and video proposal to earn a spot in the 2019 MRT24 shootout. Five very talented grass roots MX-5 racers and myself were subsequently invited as finalists to share two gorgeous Global MX-5 Cup cars with the newly added SADEV sequential six-speed gearbox. I was ecstatic to have been one of the final two nominees alongside Jared Thomas after the elimination was made. We had an extremely competitive session, but Jared was chosen as the winner of the $100,000 Scholarship which is a decision I respect and was well deserved.

However, I’ve been granted a Mazda Scholarship as well for 2020, giving me the opportunity to compete as an invitational driver in this year’s Spec MX-5 Challenge Series, with an opportunity at an “anticipated $100,000 pool of money” (specmx-5.com) at the championship round at Circuit of The Americas. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and, to be quite honest, it gives me another season to learn and improve before hopefully challenging the 2021 Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires.

This year has gone off to a slow start. My girlfriend of two and a half years, Kennedy, and I moved houses and have been busy with that. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, and the cats love it. We even put a “catio” on one of the windows.

I’ve taken this time to study as much as possible on our sport. I’ve been reading every day about cars, racing series, driving tips, etc, and listening to several podcasts. This keeps me thinking about racing and coming up with ideas. I had been out of sim racing for six months, but finally set it up last month. It didn’t take as long to get up to speed as I anticipated. I joined the SCCA Hoosier SuperTour on iRacing four days after setting up the sim, and finished third in an event at Watkins Glen.

I was also very fortunate to be invited to the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup eSeries as a last-minute entry. With decent top-10 pace right away at Barber Motorsports Park in race one, I was involved in a first lap crash. Since then, I’ve come from last (30th) to 12th in race two at COTA, finished eighth in race three at Road America, and fifth in race four at Mid-Ohio. With one more event remaining next Tuesday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, I’m excited to finish the season strong. It has been a steep learning curve and the competition is serious. There are many front running real-life MX-5 Cup racers, former champions, and even Mazda IMSA Prototype drivers, including 2012 Team USA Scholarship winner Tristan Nuñez in the 30-car field. To finish in the top five felt as good as a win.

The experience available to me this season in the Spec MX-5 Challenge and eSeries is irreplaceable. Being a runner-up for the Scholarship last season definitely seems like a blessing in disguise, because I’ll have much more confidence to have a fighting chance at a strong 2021 effort. I can’t thank Mazda Motorsports enough for all they do for me and so many grassroots racers, and for including me in the eSeries with an entry as a Mazda Road to 24 competitor. Competing against the best will always bring the best out of you. A shout-out also to Xtreme Motorsports, iRacing and Ricmotech for making it happen. Thanks Racers360 for answering my questions on their webinars (I’m one of those annoying people that asks a million questions), and SAFEisFAST.com for providing valuable content from a wide range of successful racers, engineers, etc. and giving racers like me an opportunity to pick the brains of champions with a simple click on YouTube. I couldn’t be more excited to continue on the Mazda Road to 24, and to keep using all of the tools and resources provided to develop into a top-level professional racing driver.

Thanks for following, the best is yet to come!
Aaron

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