HINDMAN: Watkins Glen Debrief

Nothing ever ceases to amaze me more than the emotional rollercoaster that is motorsport.

Sometimes, it’s not just day by day or even session to session. Occasionally I find that perspective and attitude can change all within one lap, and that could be the difference between a win, podium, or even finishing a race.

This past weekend at Watkins Glen International was one such weekend, and I’ll be brutally honest here, it was a rollercoaster straight from the start.

The whole Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing squad was more than ready to get back at it after just about nine weeks off.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was the first-ever race in the Blancpain Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Championship for Craig and me, so we were certainly hungry to improve upon some excellent results that we had achieved in the beginning of May.

We both knew that we still had much to learn about the car, and that was our main focus throughout practice.

Unfortunately, there were some fairly lengthy red flags in practice for incidents (which if I’ve heard correctly, all drivers involved were ok) and that really took away from the amount of time we had to set a number and see where the cards fell for us.

At that point, all we could do was focus on building solid balance and making sure we had a car that could run the entire 50-minute race without experiencing any large scale tire degradation; luckily it wasn’t too difficult because of the beautiful new surface at Watkins Glen.

We maintained the same plan as we did at Mazda Raceway. I would qualify and start Race One and finish Race Two.

Qualifying was off to a great start as my teammate Shinya and I battled for pole position, but fortunately the No. 10 Prestige Performance/WTR Lamborghini came out on top!

Craig was in the very same position for the second qualifier, as he continued to find lap time and ultimately put us on the inside of row two for race two.

Race 1 was off to a great start as we took the lead coming out of Turn 1, pulling a little bit of a gap, and maintained that gap for my stint in the car.

The main goal as a starting driver is to go fast, but also preserve the equipment for the finishing stint… a skill I was very fortunate to learn during the 2014 CTSC season with Fall-Line Motorsports and John Edwards.

The Prestige crew executed an excellent driver change and then Craig was off to chase the leaders down. He put together a very solid and consistent race, where we finished 2nd overall and won the Pro-Am class; exactly where we left off at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Unfortunately Race 2 wouldn’t be so nice to us. Early on, just after the drop of the green flag, Craig had reported a soft brake pedal that continued to get worse.

Somehow he hung on to the thing for about four laps until it was time to pit and do our driver change.

As I was getting into the car, he had warned me that something was very wrong and please be careful… I more or less said “to hell with it” and pushed hard straight out of pit lane until, of course, it was time to slow down for the bus stop.

The brake pedal went straight to the floor and never came back. It wasn’t necessarily the worst spot to have this sort of problem, as it is fairly safe to go straight on at the bus stop and make it around turn five without any issues.

At that point I knew that there wasn’t a chance that I could race with that issue unless we could do a quick repair to the car on pit lane, which was not possible as it turned out.

I was fairly bummed that we had this problem, as Craig would have surely been chasing the leaders closely during his stint, giving us the opportunity to fight for the overall victory. Either way, it’s just a part of racing and we will move on.

With that said, a massive congratulations to Shinya and his double win weekend and a huge thank you as well to the entire Prestige Performance/WTR squad for their effort up to, and throughout the weekend.

It is no coincidence that hard work and long hours by everybody results in luck.

So, to round this whole thing up, I call racing an emotional rollercoaster because you can and will experience the extreme highs to the devastating lows all within one day.

For example, this weekend was the second of five total IMSA events where I was, and will be, running back and forth between two cars, two teams, and two championships.

The GS race on Saturday was the third win of the year for Cameron Cassels, Bodymotion Racing, the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, and myself.

It was only a matter of about two hours between the time we were standing in victory lane with our Porsche to the time I was bringing our Huracan LP620-2 Super Trofeo back to the Prestige trailer with 30 minutes still left to go in the race and no brakes.

That’s the way she goes sometimes…

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back online with you all again after Road America!