HINDMAN: The Gut Check

Luckily, it’s been one of the busiest summers on record for me personally, both on and off the track, and I’ve been loving every second of it. The good, the bad, the ugly; all of it. There’s been a pretty strong mix of everything, hence why it’s a gut check.

Watkins Glen was really the start of the “summer swing” as we in IMSA have all come to know and love, and that was the highest of highs with a win at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo.

More recently, the lowest of lows became reality when the Park Place Motorsports/VOLT team put me in a phenomenal position to win the Michelin Pilot Challenge race at VIR, only for me to squander the opportunity and experience the most disappointing victory lap of my life.

It’s a grueling sport in so many ways, but there’s always good to come out of all these various situations. Arguably even more so in the less than ideal scenarios.

The very same weekend at VIR, I went from the ”outhouse to the penthouse” with Meyer Shank Racing, although in this case we were improving every step of the way.

Case in point; Friday practice at VIR was looking somewhat alright but nether Mario, the MSR team, or myself really knew where we stood. It wasn’t until Practice 3 Saturday morning in the rain did we realize how we were…

Five seconds off.

This was all about three hours before qualifying, no less. Now at this point, we were feeling pretty desperate. We always want to have a shot at victory, but knowing a championship is on the line if we didn’t get this turned around added a level of pressure that is incomprehensible.

But this is where a clear perspective switch can help, and it’s down to our engineering team at MSR. While Mario and I were gravely concerned, our team immediately knew the problem, its solution, and got right to work.

That is why this team is in a position to win a championship.

Going from being P-Last in Practice 3 to being disappointed about missing out on a fourth pole position of the year by noon in the same day showed our tremendous improvement.

It speaks volumes about what the occasional “gut check” can do for a solid reset, refocus, and attacking from a different angle. In essence, sometimes the occasional ass-whooping is necessary.

The No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing team would go on to finish second come race day and score some very much needed championship points heading to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The opportunity to not only exercise some of these lessons learned, but also continue the never-ending process of improving the craft came this past weekend in Watkins Glen with the Park Place/VOLT team and Alan Brynjolfsson.

I find for me that a large majority of these lessons that I normally learn myself, the hard way, sink even deeper when professing it to someone else. So any opportunity I get to share a new idea with Alan, it helps both him and me at the same time.

Solid set-up work with the VOLT Cayman GT4, a good lesson in tire management, and getting back to base on driving disciplined races were all positives to come out of running this weekend.

I also really can’t think of a better way of spending Labor Day Weekend racing cars with a team whom I’ve grown very close with throughout the year.

Looking ahead to the final week of preparation until WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, it’s no secret that the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing team finds themselves in a favorable championship position.

Every single member of Meyer Shank Racing has performed flawlessly time and time again under intense pressure and I look forward to nothing more than getting back to work in that very same environment, chasing another win.

It’s a fun and addicting prospect. In no circumstance will this team cruise and take the easy road (if there ever is one?).

All year, both the VOLT/Park Place team and MSR have shown promise. I look forward to working towards getting both teams their second wins of the year at the penultimate round of the season.