NASCAR Spotting

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When NASCAR rolled into Sonoma, I spent a couple days spotting for a coworker of mine, Dave Smith, running in the K&N Pro Series West

Tech Inspection

Tech Inspection

A lot of our time was hampered with a broken sway bar, brake failure, among other issues. But come race day, we ran with what we had

Turn 12 Spotter Tower

Turn 12 Spotter Tower

Dave started 17th out of 30 cars and battled with a cracked header, suspension issues, and even a shift knob that went flying mid-race

The 'ME' car from Talladega Nights!!!!

The 'ME' car from Talladega Nights!!!!

Even without a perfect car, Dave was able to bring the car home safely in 17th position

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Watching him all weekend from the spotter tower, what I really saw was a true professional earning his pay. To put it frankly, the car looked like a royal nightmare to drive but to make some passes, finish where he started, and to be able drive both the #30 car and his family safely home was nothing short of inspiring

As with all NASCAR races, the fanfare and entertainment value the show put on was great 

what a hot weekend. so much water was drunk

what a hot weekend. so much water was drunk

You're a hero and the people's champ Dave. Thanks for the great time. On to the next one!

#griffeydreams

Hoosier Super Tour - Buttonwillow

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Second Majors race, this time at Buttonwillow Raceway down near Bakersfield, CA - video coming

Funding was secured at the last minute, Tim Tomas of Tomas Sport Tuning in Berkeley let me borrow his trailer, pops and I finished loading at 4am, were filled up and on the highway by 6, at the track by 9am

Photo: Brian Andrus, theautonauts.com

Photo: Brian Andrus, theautonauts.com

Friday Test Day
-learn track on way down, nap
-drive, learn track
-set camp, only ones tenting it again :W
-Joey and Brian get in

Photo: Brian Andrus,  theautonauts.com

Photo: Brian Andrus, theautonauts.com

Saturday Race
-Brian and Joey help crew, badasses
-qualified P2, finished P1

Photo: Brian Andrus,  theautonauts.com

Photo: Brian Andrus, theautonauts.com

Then the drinking happened because a bunch of close friends showed up, and because it was our first big win since this journey began 3 years ago

Photo: Brian Andrus,  theautonauts.com

Photo: Brian Andrus, theautonauts.com

Sunday
-qualified p3, finished p2, three-tenths off the track record
-Dad and I stopped by Harris Ranch for celebratory steaks on the way, he told almost every server in there that his son won. awesome

A very big thank you to Tomas Sport Tuning, Hana Japan Steak & Seafood, Cafe Tapioca, Hoosier Tires, Honda Performance Development (HPD), Summit Racing, Brian @theautonauts, and everyone else that's pitched in to help me live out this dream - the list of people just keeps growing. Thank you guys

On to the next one..Sonoma
 

#griffeydreams

Paying My Dues - First Majors Race

First off, what an insane week leading up to the race itself, and the post-race glow and exhaustion felt afterwards. Here's a quick recap of how my first race weekend with the new car unfolded:

Race is on Saturday 4/1/17 at Thunderhill Raceway, Willows, CA (2.5 hrs north of SF)

Wed 3/29
-car is finally off jack-stands, prepped and good-to-go
-need xxxx amount of funds by thursday
-Hana Japan Steak & Seafood, Marin Acura, and Cafe Tapioca, among many other amazing individuals are kind enough to get me most of the way there

Thurs
-still with no trailer, a same-class competitor says he has one i can borrow for free (incredible), I go to pick it up in american canyon, ca
-long-time friend chris comes out from manteca to help me for the weekend, now it's a team of 2
-finish loading car and packing at 2a

GriffeyDreams Racing's (GDR) Team Paddock and Pit area. RV not included, but one day?

GriffeyDreams Racing's (GDR) Team Paddock and Pit area. RV not included, but one day?

Fri
-wake up at 5a, at thunderhill raceway by 8, unload & prep car for 9a practice
-1st session goes well, car feels sorted, started remembering the one other time i've driven the track
-engine issues/no power for sessions 2-6

-then chris starts coming down with flu-like symptoms, he's looking miserable by noon
-drives back home to a bart station in our borrowed tow car
-chris hands the car over to a friend, Tim Tomas and his 14yo son, who said they're down to help out
-Tim and his son Ryan get here and lights are out in the tent by 12a

my crew chief, chief mechanic, pit crew, race support & crew - Tim Tomas of Tomas Sport Tuning in Berkeley, CA and Ryan, his 14yo son  photo: Dante Reyes Galan

my crew chief, chief mechanic, pit crew, race support & crew - Tim Tomas of Tomas Sport Tuning in Berkeley, CA and Ryan, his 14yo son
photo: Dante Reyes Galan

sat
-we wake up to a sea of motorhomes, beautiful trailer rigs, and we're the only one's camping :?
-at this point we decide to use saturday as a learning tool/prep day for sunday's longer, 35 minute sprint race

-spend 1st half of qualy breaking in my new bf goodrich(r1s) that i got for a deal for sunday's race since they needed a 24hr break-in time
-vtec is still not engaging, it feels a cylinder down
-qualify 6th out of 7 cars in my class, 20+ cars in the whole field

-engine is fixed 20 mins before the race = bad coil - Tim almost gets the coil from our borrowed tow car (MDX), also an Acura, to work but we end up sourcing a spare last minute
-green flag, pass a bunch of cars, battle to 5th, catching up to 4th then DISQUALIFED mid-race for SOUND (!!!)
-hit 107db from my exhuast, 4 over the 103b limit at thunderhill. thought they'd be more lenient on race days, my mistake, rookie call
-was pretty frightening out there anyway on the 'free' tires that were honestly finished from lap 1. OK, now the focus is on tmrw

My homie Dante also came out on sunday to support and cheer me on. Also snapped most of these pics, Dante you're incredible and thank you for everything you've done

My homie Dante also came out on sunday to support and cheer me on. Also snapped most of these pics, Dante you're incredible and thank you for everything you've done

sun
-best i can find to borrow is a 60 degree angled turn-down pipe for my exhaust to divert the sound from the mic placed next to the track
-qualify 5th, on new tires but not in the right size for my car's setup (205's all around vs 225F, 205R), nor the fastest ones available. But Ken, right now you're poor so suck it up and do the best you can with what you got
-made a decision early on to use all of the tires in the beginning of the race to stay with the leaders, thinking that if i got out in front and then my tires started dying i could at least play strategy and use slower cars as picks to keep them behind me

-started 5th, dropped to 6th, pass for 5th, pass for 4th, now fighting for 3rd, tires are screaming now
-using other driver's reference points, lot of great battles, learning from other drivers' lines, learning the car
-3rd place driver out-brakes himself, using his braking reference point, i knew i was screwed, dropped two wheels into the dirt, caught the drift, slammed it into 2nd gear and got back on track, but dropped back one position to 5th, race ends

It was my first time running the new car and in the SCCA Majors series, the top amateur level in the States, and I finished 5th ending with times faster than 4th and 3rd place. I didn't bin the car, raced hard and clean, made some fun passes, met a lot of great people, and learned an insane amount.

Skating up and down the paddock all weekend, in the ever-constant hustle to get a question answered, to find parts or tools, thank people with beer, but all in the effort to go racing - I knew right then and there that I was finally doing what I should be doing. 

Though often the more affordable route, I knew going in, that running your own racing team would be a lot of work. After this weekend, I learned that running your own racing team is a lot of work. fricken hell lol

Full race video with commentary by yours truly explaining sunday's race over some beers to the old housemates in oakland is above. Lastly, another big THANK YOU to Hana Japan Steak & Seafood, Marin Acura, Cafe Tapioca, Chris Conkey, Tim and Ryan Tomas, Dante Galan, and all of the supporters since day one - thank you for believing in this kid's dream. I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life.

#griffeydreams

And it finally happened

All the phone calls, emails, passion pleas, the various part-time jobs, the gofundme, gala, the 12 hour days that turned into 20, and the extremely humbling show of support from my friends and family - all of it was absolutely worth it because mama, I finally bought a damn racecar!

The vehicle is a '95 Acura Integra fully stripped down and prepped for SCCA's STL class which I'm hoping to use to compete in the Majors series, the top amateur level in the States

And having recently moved back home with the folks in order to make this dream a reality, at close to 30 and having lived on my own since college, let's just say it hasn't been the easiest situation for both parties involved (definitely say goodbye to my dating life), especially now with a full-blown racecar that's also resettled in my parent's garage.

But man am I grateful for how understanding my folks have been and for eventually coming around and doing what they could to support my dream. Am I embarrassed to be living back at home at 29 years old? To be honest, sure, a little bit. But right now some momentum is building and with the goal of reaching the pros ever closer than before, then right now I'll do whatever's necessary to make this dream happen.

That said, as prepared and well-informed as a person can be, when I first got this car I was incredibly overwhelmed. Thank god for beer, and for my close friends always stopping by to lend a hand, maybe some shit-talk, but also usually some encouragement.

Jordan, a fellow instructor and coworker of mine graciously helping me with some welds

Even Tiffany, Jordan's fiance' was kind enough to help out in our 'paintbooth'

New tow hook installed as well as some aluminum splitter support rods to cope with the extra downforce

And even though I don't have enough funds yet for a truck or trailer, I was fortunate enough for one of my sponsors, Hana Japan, to lend me their FJ Cruiser to tow my car on a Uhaul to its first shakedown test at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, CA

Once again, Jordan and Tiffany were kind enough to be my support crew for the day and thankfully enough, the first test of the car went flawlessly as well as allowing for some good seat-time for myself to learn a completely new car and track

There's certainly a long way to go and a little more fundraising needed to be done, but it all has to start from somewhere.

Whether it was a couple words of encouragement or a financial donation or several, from deep down in my heart, a very sincere thank you goes out to every incredible soul that helped me out along the way - I could not have gotten this far without your help - you all know who you are.

It's as grassroots as it gets, I'm extremely pumped, and I couldn't be more humbled, grateful, and proud of where I am today. Now it's time to go racing.

#griffeydreams
 

 

 

Now or Never

I need to raise $30,000 by March 1st

-if I want to train and eliminate all of my weaknesses
-if I ever want to reach the Pros
-and if I want to see my youth and racing-related nonprofit dream come to fruition

If you believe in GriffeyDreams, then I need your help now

Whether that means volunteering your time during race weekends,
donating financially,
or sharing my dream with others - 
your assistance is greatly needed and appreciated

https://www.gofundme.com/griffeydreams

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much

Ken 'shoota' Fukuda / #24
#peacecorps2pros

Instructing

Was recently offered an instructing position with Simraceway Performance Driving Center (formerly known as Jim Russell) in Sonoma, CA -  
the exact place where I began my motorsports career more than ten years ago. 

By the age of 13, I had read practically every book on racing that I could get my hands on. 
Also remember excitedly working for months to pay for my first Techniques of Karting class.
And later, feeling so pumped about being invited back for the school's scholarship runoffs.

Everyone's journey into motorsports is different in some way, just glad I found my way back.

And after having held so many different jobs over the years, can truthfully say that this is the most content I've ever felt in any form of employment.
Every single day I get to combine my passions for racing and teaching.

The machinery that's ever-present sure doesn't hurt either

McLaren P1

McLaren P1

With the ups and downs of the last 18 months, job-hunting, working multiple jobs,
and trying to rack my brain to figure out a way to make this dream happen,

I had to take a moment and realize how fortunate I am to be in this current position. 
For the chance to do what I love,
and for the extremely experienced, supportive, and passionate cast and crew that comprise of Simraceway.

If you have any interest in racing, driving an automobile fast, or improving your technique,
I'd highly recommend coming out for a program - you'll love it
 
www.simracewaydrivingschool.com

GriffeyDreams

Seattle Pilgrimmage

Photo credit: Carnival Corporation

Photo credit: Carnival Corporation

I had visited Seattle before when I was younger but never had the chance to check out Safeco Field, the building that Griffey built. 
Had some air miles I needed to use before they expired so I convinced some homies to take a quick trip up to Washington over Halloween weekend

Ate really well and Seattle's coffee was just outta this world. I get it now

And of course I made my friends take a pitstop

Ballpark tour

Ballpark tour

goofydreams

goofydreams

Seattle, you were dope.

GriffeyDreams

Laguna Seca

Missed his birthday so to make up for it I took Finley, my 5 year old nephew to his first race,
the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season finale at Laguna Seca

The kid likes fast Nissans, good on him. Soo stoked

PWC racer James Wilson was kind enough to let Finn hop in his car. 
Couldn't even bother him to look at the camera, kid thinks he's already pro like his old uncle - I'm busy Uncle Ken!

Photo credit: Travis Baraki / http://www.travisbaraki.com/

Photo credit: Travis Baraki / http://www.travisbaraki.com/

Monitoring a 5 year old is tough work. Didn't have much time to snap pics of the race but here are some beautiful shots taken by others

Michael Lewis, No 98 Calvert Dynamics Porsche GT3 Photo credit: Michael Lewis / mjlracing.com

Michael Lewis, No 98 Calvert Dynamics Porsche GT3
Photo credit: Michael Lewis / mjlracing.com

2016 PWC GT Champion Alvaro Parente, KPAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 Photo credit: MotorMavens.com

2016 PWC GT Champion Alvaro Parente, KPAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3
Photo credit: MotorMavens.com

Was awesome to see KPAX, a local team based out of Sonoma take the crown

Also ran into some friends while at the track

This is Mike, an old coworker from my days at the Department of Veterans Affairs, hugely passionate about motorsports, 
and GriffeyDreams' #1 fan since I said screw it and left everything to go race in Canada. Mike, you're the man!

A couple days before the race weekend, I was at Laguna helping PWC driver Tom O'Gorman with some car setup..

PWC drivers James Wilson (left) and Tom O'Gorman

PWC drivers James Wilson (left) and Tom O'Gorman

Was awesome to see him and the car do well over the weekend as Tom took home two 2nd place finishes and secured himself the championship.
Congratulations Tom and thanks for all the advice. From grassroots to the pros, that's what racing's about. Love it

Aptos, CA

Aptos, CA

Quick pitstop to the beach for some ice cream and a swim before heading home after a day at the races  :3

GriffeyDreams

 

ALL IN

Not gonna lie, I'm quite curious as I think most people are in wanting to hear about how people achieved their dreams. Maybe we think that if we hear their story, that there'll be some morsel of advice or better, an elegant and easy-to-follow career path that somehow always results in success. 

Having read so many autobiographies of racing drivers over the years, I can attest that the only common denominator that I could find in all of their paths to glory was that each and every aspiring driver at some point in their lives decided to take a gamble, to risk it all and to go for it. Persistence, hard work, creativity and all that other stuff comes later. 

Left to right: Bruce McLaren, Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, baby Damon Hill, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier, Wolfgang von Trips photo: Keystone, Getty Images

Left to right: Bruce McLaren, Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, baby Damon Hill, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier, Wolfgang von Trips photo: Keystone, Getty Images

Whether it meant risking financial stability, marital comfort, personal safety, a stable career, deriving from societal norms and dogma, or not living up to familial expectations, whatever. If you're attempting to do anything great, an undeniable amount of commitment is needed. A lesson, even at age 29, that I'm now only beginning to truly understand.

I think the bottom line is that the path that each person takes is hardly ever identical. And when you think about it, why should something as glorious as your dream ever be so easy and clearly lain out? Because after all, for most people dreams exist only in a state of sleep or in a state of whimsical contemplation. To pluck that sucker from fantasy and to make it happen shouldn't be easy, otherwise the special importance surrounding the concept of 'the dream' would be diminished.

Stirling Moss, Monza 1954 Photo: Bernard Cahier, http://www.f1-photo.com/


It's funny, in March of 2014 I began this blog to document my journey to the Pros. Quitting my cushy government job and boarding that plane to Canada felt like a true leap of faith. But as soon as I got back, the reality of getting older, of nearing the age of 30 and missing out on a stable career, promotions, thoughts about saving for retirement, a mortgage, love, etc began to swirl furiously around in my head.

I began looking for stable work to ensure that I had an exit strategy set up. I honestly believed that I could live my dream and play it safe. I began comparing myself to friends and other people my age (which is always a really horrible idea) and soon the fear of losing out, of going for it and failing started feeling so much more real and threatening. Somehow I suspect that a lot of kids with parents that had extremely high expectations for their children (and were constantly reminded of those expectations as they were growing up) can particularly relate. 

Who doesn't want money, nice things, and stability? Ayrton Senna Photo: Unknown

Who doesn't want money, nice things, and stability?
Ayrton Senna Photo: Unknown

And being completely honest, those thoughts scared the hell out of me. I worked hard for an education and to succeed at my prior places of work. And my immigrant parents also worked their asses off to raise and place me in a position to succeed. And now I was going to risk it all for a dream to go race cars. Sounds foolish, sounds selfish, sounds scary. 

But here I am. Two and a half years wiser on this journey and I'm finally ready to commit. I've finally convinced myself to stop worrying about other people's expectations and to go ALL IN because this is what I love. And because life is short and the regret of never trying would probably haunt me to my grave.

Driving a race car is, and will always be a dangerous activity. It'll always be about winning and losing. About risk-taking, though calculated, but gambling nonetheless. If going ALL IN is what's truly required to drive a race car to glory, then I should most certainly treat this dream with the same amount of commitment and respect.

Time to stop half-assing it and to go ALL IN.

Steve Jobs said it best

GriffeyDreams

Why Racing?

F2000, Driver Development Track, Ontario, Canada   Foreground: Farook Manzar, Background: myself

Aren't you afraid of dying? Don't you need a lot of money to go racing? Why do you do it?

I get asked these questions a lot from family and friends. And after my last post, I figured it'd be insightful to explain why I've dedicated so much time, money, and energy towards learning how to go fast on four wheels. 

First, the question about injury - Aren't you afraid of getting hurt, dying?

  • Sure, I fear death and getting hurt but never while driving. To be honest, there are far too many other things preoccupying my mind like braking/turn-in points, line, how the car/tires/track is feeling, etc - than thinking about any sort of doom-and-gloom scenario
     
  • In addition, race cars have gotten considerably safer over the years and if you want to be on the even safer side, you can stick to solely racing sports cars vs open-wheel race cars (w/roof vs no roof; usually slower and less g-forces involved). Though, that's not to say that you still can't have life-threatening injuries from driving a sports car, but generally they are considered safer. That's what the last 5 years have dictated at least..

Fernando Alonso, Australian F1 Grand Prix 2016        photo - motorsport.com

Don't you need a lot of money?

To go and drive a car spiritedly on the track - no, not that much
To go racing - yes. With the cost for new tires, fuel, txp, entry fees, spare parts, mechanics/engineers/coaches, food, etc..it all adds up quite quickly hence the dire need for sponsors as you progress up the ladder

Here are some numbers for Mazda's Road-to-Indy Career Development Ladder system in the USA. Scholarships such as fully-paid rides towards the next series are awarded for championship-winning drivers, but you still have to pay to play:

-USF2000 full season cost                                           = $200,000-275,000
-ProMazda '   '                                                             = $300,000-400,000
-IndyLights '   '                                                            = $1,000,000
-IndyCar, just to field a car at the Indy500, one race    = $1,000,000


This would be a common career path for young teens eager to reach the pinnacle of motorsport, whom (usually his/her parents) have already invested thousands upon thousands rising up the ranks in go-karts

 

However, that's not to discourage anyone else with a dream to go racing and to make it to the pros. It can and has been done before by those that have been older and just as financially desperate as the rest of us - but it takes an unbelievable amount of commitment, hard work, creativity, luck, and persistence

The son of a bricklayer, a police constable that went racing, and a mechanic that was once living in an Italian refugee camp
Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti - all Formula 1 World Champions


As for why I enjoy racing cars, everyone has their own reasons. These are mine:

  • I really enjoy driving fast. So much so that just thinking about cars, racing, and going faster literally keeps me up at night. It's been the cause for my insomnia since I was 10
     
  • Taking a corner perfectly, from stamping on the brakes to throwing the car in, hitting the apex and balancing the car with the throttle as it drifts perfectly out to the edge of the track, while performing all of these maneuvers on the absolute limit is an indescribable feeling of ecstasy

F1600 Palm Beach Intl. Raceway, Florida

  • Going fast (and surviving) requires a combination of intelligence, physicality, awareness, and in the words of James Hunt, 'big balls'
     
  • I have a passion for analytics but also a tendency to overthink my decisions. Racing a car at speed doesn't offer me the luxury of time, thus forcing me to make a decision quickly and decisively, and to continuously use what i've learned on the previous lap in order to go faster on the next. Split-second problem-solving, fun
     
  • Driving a racecar is like being a Power Ranger. You're essentially in control of your own giant robot (racecar), which you then use to battle it out with others in their own individually-tuned machines at extremely high speeds. It's basically like real-life Gundam. That's probably the best way I can think of to describe auto-racing - big battling robots 

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Mobile Suit Gundam

  • Racecars are sexy as hell. How they sound, the smells and vibrations, just their physical presence and the understanding that they were built for only one thing and one thing only - to lap a track as fast as humanly possible given the limitations
     
  • Passing people is fun
     
  • And winning is even more fun. Especially to win after working so hard, enduring all of the hardships, and doing what you've loved and dreamed about since childhood

Video: Champions, from Ascari to Alonso

Mika Hakkinen, 1999-2000 F1 World Champion    photo: getty images

Tony Kanaan winning the 97th Indy 500, photo Marshall Pruett

Jenson Button, 2009 F1 World Champion   photo: unknown

GriffeyDreams

Body

photo: Tubay Yabut

Racing is physical and sometimes it hurts. 
In the sequence above, I was shunted off on the first lap under heavy braking and took quite a hit against the barriers. 

Fractured a rib and couldn't sleep right for about a month. 
This was in a go-kart going about 45 mph. Imagine an Indycar or Sportscar at triple those speeds..

This was another injury I sustained, albeit racing-related but indirectly. 
I had been training pretty rigorously for my upcoming trip to Miami to do some testing.

To treat myself for all of the cardio I'd been doing, I allowed myself to play one game of pick-up basketball.
Wrong move and should've known better from my sporting days - damnit Ken, no extra risks before a race

In my first game, I received a freak headbutt to my left eye and heard something go pop. 
Fractured orbital floor, aka broken eye socket. 

Doc tells me that without surgery my eye will continue to sink further back into my eye, causing permanent double vision.
I get the operation and for weeks afterwards, I had some pretty rough double vision and Strabismus, or crossed-eyes. 

Thankfully, everything healed back to normal and now I just have a small scar as a reminder. 
Either way, it's a damn good reality check that at age 29,
whether I'm racing or training, I am still pursuing a truly physical and athletic profession. 

GriffeyDreams

Florida

F1600, Palm Beach Intl. Raceway

F1600, Palm Beach Intl. Raceway

Recently flew to Florida to test some F1600s, get some solid karting practice in, and hangout with my good friend Vince. Was also my first time in the sunshine state. Did not disappoint, especially Miami. Oh Miami..

Tested the F1600s at the new Lucas School of Racing headquartered at Palm Beach International Raceway. Their racecars were equipped with paddle-shift transmissions, full video & data acquisition and some top-notch instructors and current-pros to match. 

This was also my first time receiving coaching with full data metrics (lateral/longitudinal G's, brake/throttle pressure readouts, full GPS telemetry etc), as well as being able to focus solely on left-foot braking due to their paddle-equipped transmissions. 
 

IndyCar's Pippa Mann

IndyCar's Pippa Mann

Needless to say, I learned so much about my driving and the areas I now need to work on from the data readouts, as well as from the great coaches such as Indycar's Pippa Mann, Mazda factory driver Tristan Nunez (who let me borrow his shoes bc I'm poor, thanks brother!), and the man himself, Mr. Randy Buck.

If you want to take your driving to the next level, then go visit the Lucas boys down in Palm Beach and you won't be let down. 
All in all, had an amazing time in Florida and a huge shoutout and THANKS to my homie Vince. The hustle continues..

GriffeyDreams

karts and palm trees, Homestead-Miami Speedway

karts and palm trees, Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Offseason

 




Train in the morning, interviews in the afternoon, shifts at night.
Instructing gigs, meetings, highs and lows.

Nothing a driver hates more than the off-season.
But the hustle is finally starting to pay off.
What up Miami, I'll see you soon

GriffeyDreams

2015 Karting Season

My 2015 racing season consisted of racing and training on a Rotax go-kart with Sim Raceway Performance Driving Center (the former Jim Russell school) in Sonoma.
Karts are what most pros learn on and use as training in the off-season, reason being the high grip levels and power-to-weight ratios achieved in a racing kart.
Anyway, my first whole season racing a kart and it was a damn blast.

Arrive and drive, Practice-Qualifying-Heat Race-Main Race format, 9 races total.
The rest of the competitors seemed to be regulars, some coming for the last 5+ years.
One track with 5-6 different configurations. Longest kart track in North America.
Instructors consisted of mostly current and former professional drivers.

The breakdown:
Race 1,  3/28/15 - 11th    (this is what slick tires feel like..)
Race 2, 4/25/15 - 6th     (getting a feel for it)
Race 3, 5/23/15 - 10th    (got a bit overconfident)
Race 4, 6/13/15  - 7th     (smooth is fast. but you still have to be on the limit, cmon!)
Race 5, 7/11/15   - 3rd    (silverware! solid, consistent race)
Race 6, 8/15/15  - 3rd    (more silverware. and best defensive drive to date)
Race 7, 9/5/15    - 9th    (overdrove it; great lesson in tire wear)
Race 8. 10/10/15 - 5th    (hit once, set fastest lap)
Race 9, 10/31/15 - 5th    (hit twice, 2nd fastest lap, last lap-last corner, counter-overtake pass to finish 5th)

Finished 4th out of 22 competitors, two podiums, started setting some fastest laps, and my racecraft feels like it's on point..all in my first season racing karts.

Got a full season under my belt. Got a feel for slick tires. And the speed is there.

And now I understand what I have to work on before making the next jump up.
Even though I'm getting a late start (most pros start before 10), I'm stoked on the progress I've made and can't wait for next season.

GriffeyDreams
 

Indy

Sonoma Raceway Aug 2015

Sonoma Raceway Aug 2015

Cheesin in pitlane with one of my sponsors
in front of Juan Pablo Montoya's ride
before the start of the final race of the 2015 IndyCar season.

Was a great and emotional race with many thanks to
Simraceway Driving School and Sonoma Raceway for the warm hospitality.

#badasswilson

#badasswilson

Battle

Sonoma Raceway Aug 2015

Sonoma Raceway Aug 2015

This race couldn't come soon enough,
especially after last month's podium finish.

Spent Free Practice experimenting and
trying things I had come up with during the off-time - it went alright.

Qualifying was also OK.
Felt I had learned enough from my previous race to qualify somewhere near 2nd.
Qualified 4th.
Just didn't have pace today for some reason.

Was immediately passed in my heat race and dropped to 5th,
but fought back and finished 4th.

Main race - the one that matters.
Started 4th and told myself to stop thinking so damn much.

Green flag.

I get a great jump and immediately pass someone and now I'm in 3rd.
Another person passes me and I'm back in 4th. I battle back and reclaim 3rd.

Now my favorite part of the day.

One of the racers is on my ass again,
and with every single offensive maneuver of his,
I parry back with some perfectly executed defensive blocks.
No double-moves, completely ethical and fair. I finish 3rd.

Heard some people were disgruntled with my driving
but the instructors and top racers had my back.

From a day where it just felt like an off day
and not even expecting a podium,
to battling my ass off
and coming home with silverware again.

Got more data to study,
gonna be another long month.
 

Movin' on up

Sonoma Raceway Jul 2015

Seventh time driving a kart.
Fifth time racing a Rotax.
Understanding better the subtleties of a kart chassis and slick tires,
while hammering out some bad habits from Canada and working on my racecraft.

2015 Driver Development Program going according to plan.
Freaking. Love. Racing.