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8/18/2009- Junkyard Motors And All Night Marathons
Every serious racer has stories of all-nighters, outlandish fabrication needs and making the impossible happen. My last race weekend set the precedent in the world of James Hunt Racing. Our KONI race at Barber Motorsports Park was a true war of attrition.
Change is a constant in life that no one can escape. The pursuit of my dream to race professionally that started back in November 2007 has resulted in plenty of life changes since then. Over the past three months I have encountered some pretty big ones. Working for BMW of North America really is a dream job and I love it. But, with a real job comes real responsibilities and a serious time commitment.
Despite an intense month of work, I’m still alive and kicking. Since my race at Homestead in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge a majority of my time has been consumed by a new position within BMW of North America.
Don’t blink; you will lose eight car lengths. Welcome to spec racing in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge. Yes, it’s that competitive. Let’s elaborate on the level of competition for a moment. I enter the brake zone for turn six at Homestead Miami Speedway about two feet off the bumper of a competitor in an effort to pressure him into a mistake on which I can capitalize.
Practice, also known as “seat time” is everything in racing. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Miller Performance Training Center at Miller Motorsports Park and participating in the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School.
After months of hard work things are coming together. While opportunities are presenting themselves,
every day creates new challenges and hurdles to overcome. In the past month I have a built a new partnership, raced in what I like
to call “Mini Sebring”, done some driver coaching, changed jobs and earned a ride in an upcoming race. Sounds tiring, but I feel
fortunate indeed and am grateful for the recent opportunities.
When you pour your heart and soul into any
endeavor for a prolonged amount of time without a break, it's hard to
stay focused. For the past year I have sacrificed everything that one
enjoys in "normal" life to pursue my dream of racing cars professionally.
In keeping with my theme of working so hard I forget
to blink, I'm crammed back on the good old plane (18 A- the "A" is for
Amazingly uncomfortable) heading home for Monday's work day. This outing
combined the best of both worlds, networking and seat time.
Greetings from the ultra luxurious fetal position
of seat 11 A at 31,000 feet somewhere over Colorado as I'm en route to
the good old East Coast, baby. I'm pretending to drive a Spec Miata and
having fun doing so despite being about as comfortable as a 9 month pregnant
woman in a marathon.
Ahhh the taste of champagne in 40 degree
weather after a long race, you can't beat it. Man it feels good to be
back on the podium! The past few weeks have been action packed without
any sign of letting up. This truly was a HAPPY HALLOWEEN. It's not every
year you get to dress up like a race car driver and mean it.
Ahhh the taste of champagne in 40 degree weather
after a long race, you can't beat it. Man it feels good to be back on
the podium! The past few weeks have been action packed without any sign
of letting up. This truly was a HAPPY HALLOWEEN. It's not every year you
get to dress up like a race car driver and mean it.
The 2008 season marked my professional
debut as a race car driver after 15 years of dreaming. Taking time to
reflect on the last year, I find a sizable smile on my face and a sense
of great accomplishment. This has been the hardest, yet most rewarding
Blog entry to write as I have re-read it about 30 times.
Drivers have a hard time going to a race track unless
they're driving, myself included. It's like taking a fish in a small bowl
to the ocean and sitting him at the edge of the beach so that the water
barely touches his bowl, but not letting the little fella rip where he
belongs, in the open ocean. Many "drivers" won't attend races unless they
are in the seat competing, coaching or in some capacity that puts them
behind the steering wheel.
Travel to any race track on the planet, in every level
of racing, and you will undoubtedly hear the quote, "That's Racing." From
Roger Penske to my early track days in the Acura, it sums up in very concise
terms the pain that anyone involved in racing has experienced at one time
Today the role of student and teacher
takes on a completely new meaning for me. Now being both a student and
a teacher equals recess at the best playground in the world, a race track.
Last weekend I found myself
in the middle of a momentous event. Not only was it the final race of
the 2008 Rolex Season, but it marked the first time that our team, APR
Motorsport, reached the KONI podium!
As I sit in row 21, seat D, on my flight back from
the East Coast I gather my thoughts about the past two weeks. A few things
come to mind of interest, other than the fact that airplane seats are
designed for vertically challenged humans shorter than five feet tall.
I'm using four blankets from first class as lumbar support (you have to
be creative sometimes).
This past weekend racing in Iowa was momentous
for a number of reasons. It was filled with the good, the bad and the
ugly. Being an eternal optimist, there's usually a smile on my face even
when the chips are down. Despite running non-stop from one thing to the
next, Iowa was still a blast. Whether I was enjoying the State Fair or
navigating the high speed banking at Iowa Speedway, this weekend was remarkable
on multiple levels.
1 of this Blog describes how exciting I'm finding personal growth
as a race car driver. Part 2, focuses on a life of ongoing business growth
intensified by my recent pursuit of professional driving. I am not only
evolving my talent as a driver, but I have become a business. James Hunt
Racing, LLC is the name of my company. I evolve and grow it simultaneously
with my driving.
Now that I have successfully
completed two of my four races with APR Motorsport in the Grand Am Series,
it's time to take stock.
Let's have some fun.
I'm going to put you in the driver's seat to experience the WAAAHHHHOOOO
I got in the first 5 turns of lap one at Watkins Glen this past weekend.
It's worth noting that my entire stint was one big WAAAHOOOO, but the
start set the tone nicely. Put yourself in your best driving position;
you know what I'm talking about with the pretend steering wheel and shifter.
I also want to hear those race car noises we all make when pretending
to drive. Now that we're locked and loaded, let's dance.
The word "Team" has different meanings for different
people. In Motorsports, it's often tossed out in post-race interviews,
podium celebrations or after the dreaded all-night wrench session to get
the car running again for 8 a.m. qualifying. To me, being a member of
a team has a very deep and important role both on and off the race track.
Thanks to incredible parenting, the importance and responsibility of being
a team member was hard wired into my brain early on (thanks Mom and Dad).
For those of you who have had the distinct
pleasure of attending the Montreal Formula One Grand Prix, I think you
would agree that the experience can be summed up in two words: unbelievably
spectacular! The cars, the people, the food (the nightlife!) and the overall
scene are simply amazing. In my opinion, wherever you combine European
Culture and the world?s most advanced race cars good things happen. For
those of you who have never attended this event, but have even .001% interest
in Motorsports, I highly recommend making it a top priority.
"Green, Green, Green" blasts over the radio as I exit
the Downhill turn at Lime Rock Park onto the front straight. I am surrounded
by a swarm of hungry machines that are all jockeying for position and
scrapping for every inch of asphalt. All hurtling towards turn one thinking
the same thing, "get out of my way".
Sleep deprivation is a funny thing. More
often than not, you don't notice it until it's too late. Plus, I usually
don't catch up on my sleep until my body starts screaming: "You're getting
sick stupid-stop beating me up and sleep!" So what do I do to thwart this
natural defense mechanism? I cheat. I take some vitamins and drink plenty
of milk. But, I still get sick.
The momentum pendulum has finally started
to swing in the right direction! These past two weeks have been extremely
exciting for me, despite facing an abundance of adversity. Fortunately
for me, however, maintaining a positive attitude at all costs and refusing
to say "uncle" seems to be working.
No one ever said it would be easy,
but so far making it as a professional driver has proven to be downright
arduous! Every day in the life of a young driver trying to make his way
into the industry is filled with MASSIVE ups and downs.
The last two weeks have been non stop since returning from
my test with APR Motorsport at Virginia International Raceway. Every aspect
of my life has been changing at an extremely rapid pace. To be honest,
sometimes I find it hard to keep up with myself. I feel like the guy in
the circus that juggles 10 blazing torches while riding a unicycle.
Getting to test with a professional
racing team is an unbelievable opportunity. It can mark the beginning
of a promising career in Motorsports, or, be over before you even get
into the car (no pressure, right?...)
Some would argue that practice makes
perfect. I, however, believe practice helps improve and develop one's
skill set rather than making them perfect. Nobody is perfect.
Momentum is a very important word to drivers both on and off the race
track. On the race track, conservation of momentum is crucial to increasing
speed and dropping lap times. Off the race track, momentum takes on a
totally different meaning, but is equally important.
The engines have gone silent now and I have since
returned from Daytona full of excitement. I competed at the Roman Coliseum
of Motorsports and produced strong results for my first professional race.
Now what? Well to be honest, about ten million different things.
We're following rookie pro
driver James Hunt as he learns the ropes, hits new heights, and deals
with the inevitable lows in his trail to potential sportscar racing stardom
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