Skip Barber Summer Series – Road America

July 06, 2009
During the winter months, I spent some time with my driving coach Steve Welk doing the Skip Barber School. I did a 3-day racing school, an advanced 2-day racing school, and two lapping sessions up at Lime Rock, Connecticut. Since I had never driven an open wheel car before, Steve had a lot to teach me. I had trouble downshifting at first but once he taught me how to left-foot brake, I started to get the hang of it. Steve was very patient with me all winter long because sometimes I was driving like a spaz. But he never gave up and he decided to enter me in my first car race ever! Me, my mom and dad, Steve, his girlfriend Allison, and his family all spent July 4th weekend in Elkhart Lake. We had an awesome time together!

There were two races that weekend. You only qualify once and that’s where you start Race #1. Your finish in Race #1 determines where you start in Race #2. I qualified 2nd out of 16 drivers which seemed pretty respectable for my first time. There are many different kinds of people who race in this series – older gentlemen who just want to have a good time doing something they’ve always wished they could do; teenagers like me who are still racing karts; and guys who are in their early 20’s who are hoping to race the National series eventually. It is a cool mix of drivers and everybody treated me so well!

In Race #1, which was a ten lap race on the historic Road America circuit, I got the jump on the outside to take the lead into turn one. I got passed into turn 5 and then I made a gigantic mistake when I locked up both front tires. I went straight off the track into the grass. The rule in Skip Barber is that if you go “four off”, you have to pit for a safety check as you watch all the competition blow by you. I got back on track in dead last and through a hard fought race, worked all the way up to a 5th place finish! It was awesome and I received the award for “Race Rookie of the Weekend” which was pretty cool. Steve seemed to be pretty satisfied with my first race.

In Race #2, I started P5 and got up to 3rd in the first turn. I spent the next 10 laps battling with the top two drivers who were really good. I made a couple of mistakes which caused me to fall back a bit but was still able to hang on to 3rd for my first podium finish! Racing formula cars is awesome and karting definitely help prepare you for that. I had so much fun all weekend. I still have a lot to learn but I plan on continuing karting as well as doing some more Skippy races. Thank you very much to Steve for everything he is doing to help me become the best driver I can be. I hope I’m not driving him too crazy though.