Since my last blog, I’ve experienced my first three Formula Ford races, toured the Haas F1 Team factory, cheered on Team USA graduate Bryce Aron in GB3 at Donington, and spent some time in the historic city of Oxford. It’s been one of my most packed weeks in recent memory, but I enjoyed practically every minute of it.
The BRSCC National Formula Ford weekend at Snetterton was an opportunity for me to familiarize myself with the car (above) – although it wasn’t the exact model I will be driving in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy races, it was likewise a Ray chassis. I was able to go through the routines of practice and qualifying, and importantly, I completed my first ever standing starts. Qualifying put us in the lower end of the mid-pack, and after my first standing start proved to be inauspicious, I had to recover from last place after Turn One. I worked my way up steadily, gained three positions on the final lap, and ultimately finished ninth. Race Two started in wet conditions, in which I achieved a better start and ran in fifth for most of the race until I made a mistake when parts of the track dried but others didn’t. I finished eighth. I started Race Three on pole position after the top eight were inverted, and was running in a solid P3 until my left rear suspension failed. All in all, it was an educational weekend, and I’m glad I was able to gel well with the team. We celebrated Max’s birthday on Saturday, and Sue Low (Andy Low’s mother) baked a delicious key lime pie. She is constantly spoiling us with her cooking (even personalized cupcakes, below), and truly makes our race track meals feel like home.
The following Thursday, Haas F1 presented us with an incredible opportunity to tour their factory in Banbury. Stuart Morrison, Haas’ Head of Communications, was effectively our tour guide. He started us off with some photos in Haas’ show car, following this up with a video chat – on the other end of the line was none other than Guenther Steiner, “the man, the myth, the legend” from Netflix’s Drive to Survive, as Stuart aptly described him. He was nice enough to speak with us about the climb to F1 for several minutes from the airport in Charlotte, as his flight had just arrived. He also printed some thoughtful and motivating comments in Haas’s pre-US Grand Prix press release, stating he hopes to see me or Max in Formula 1 someday.
Gary Gannon, Mick Schumacher’s race engineer, was also present, thoroughly describing the functions of all the dials and buttons on the Haas steering wheel and patiently answering questions (below). Following our visit, I was pleasantly surprised when Haas posted some photos of our visit on their main page, gaining Max and me hundreds of new followers on social media and vastly widening our reach. Overall, it was an unforgettable day that hopefully will kickstart a friendship and association with Haas F1.
Following Haas, we had a positive test day at Snetterton, followed by a weekend of traveling between Donington Park and Oxford. I was able to attend a formal dinner at the University, courtesy of my high school friend, which was incredibly inexpensive for the quality of the food. Hopefully, we’ll have another couple of adventures before we get down to business for the Festival in just over a week’s time.