It was just less than a year ago that I attended the Skip Barber 3-day Racing School at Sebring International. Three weeks ago I found myself driving down to Road Atlanta for my first ever race weekend with nerves and excitement. In the first day of practice I felt really good. I had 4 practice sessions scheduled to set a baseline and to get familiar with the car again in preparation for the upcoming races. A practice session is 30 minutes and I was able to complete about 15 laps.
The goal going into the weekend was to be consistent, chip away at the lap time and be mistake free.
At the end of the first day I felt great but was super wiped out from running over 60 laps that day. I had about 1 second to find on the track but I was determined to do well. The morning session of Day 2 was a twelve minute qualifying session and I slowly chipped away at the lap time to qualify 3rd for my first race ever. I was really excited about placing 3rd because the “draft” plays a huge part at Road Atlanta and I was able to set that time running on my own. I had a lot of confidence going in to the first race. I was looking for another strong race, and to gain as much experience as I could.
When it was all said and done I was a little too conservative and dropped back to 6th at the start and got locked in to a hard battle with 5th place. I tried every technique I knew and had practiced in iRacing.com. I stayed there till the checkered. I was disappointed in the result, but kept my head high as it was my first race and grabbed “Rookie of the Race”.
Going into the last day I concentrated on the lessons I learned from the day before and the feedback from my Skip Barber coaches. The track was hot and greasy and the field was so close - I missed P2 by one tenth, resulting in qualifying 5th for race two. During the warm up I got a freebie when 4th place spun during warm up resulting in me starting P4 for Race 2.
Going into Race 2 I was determined to take what I learned in Race 1 to better myself. I was running fourth for a majority of the race until I got caught out in the draft that would drop me back to 7th. I had to keep my head straight and not let it get to me. I continued to press forward. I got back to 5th with about 5 laps to go and a 5 second grab to the lead group. I settled in and was determined to catch them. As the final lap came around I was right behind the lead pack, finishing 5th and recording the Fastest Race lap and a new personal best.
As the weekend came to an end I had to remind myself that my goal for my first race weekend was to gain as much experience as I could and to see the checkered flag.
With over 105 laps completed without a mistake, scoring solid championship points along with Rookie of the Race honors and finishing with a Fastest Race Lap, I was pleased to hear that I accomplished what I set out to do.
But in no way am I satisfied with the final results. This will only fuel my motivation for rounds 3 and 4 at Road America on July 7-9. I cannot wait for round 3 and 4 at Road America and to get strapped back into the Skip Barber formula car.