Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Driving at 185 Miles an Hour- In a Circle!

The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Rookie and Open test are now in the books. I ran yesterday on the Rookie day in order to get my racing license and pass the IRL mandated Rookie test. I had a good day all in all, even if I didn’t end up quickest. It was a full test day with the green flag flying from 9 AM until 5PM with an hour for lunch. I completed a significant number of laps of the 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. I started the day getting back into the groove of running full throttle for the whole lap with the car reaching speeds up to 190 miles per hour. In the morning, the team and I worked together well as we optimized the car set up for the track and weather conditions. The Sam Schmidt mechanics and engineers are some of the best I have worked with in racing.

Over the lunch break, we made a few changes to the car which didn’t help with the handling or grip. In fact on my first run, I had a very big ‘moment’ in the middle of turn 1 and 2. Luckily, I caught the car as it tried to spin and after I restarted my heart, I made my way back to pit lane to change the set up again! I had an in car camera on the car and when I can get the footage from the team, I plan on putting it up here. While it may not look particularly scary- when you consider I was going about 185mph and there is a very hard concrete wall (albeit with a SAFER barrier) on the outside of the corner, it becomes more impressive! After we had made the car better, we put on a new set of Firestone Firehawks and I did a time that was quickest enough to put me 6th. I always like to be quickest and the day didn’t go perfectly, but I learned a tremendous amount. Furthermore, I spent a lot of time running in traffic and learning how the car reacts when I am behind or side by side with another car. Now I really feel ready for my first oval race!

I am going to try and find a fun fact on all the different racetracks I go to over the course of the season. Did you know that Homestead-Miami Speedway not only has 18-20degree variable banking in the corners, but also boasts the southernmost tunnel in the continental U.S.?

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