Keeping Focused, and Balanced

Family, work, racing, not necessarily always in that order, very hard to keep everything in balance. Over the last few weeks, I have prioritized getting ready for Road America, my race there is coming up over the Labor Day weekend, really looking forward to it. It’s been pretty tough to put it at the top of the list with all of the other responsibilities, and other activities I have going.

I had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on this topic with Ross Bentley on his incredible speed secrets podcast this week.

Work has become increasingly demanding requiring more frequent travel, the partnership, sponsorship component of preparing for 2020 is a significant time investment, and the startup is gaining real traction with some exciting opportunities on the horizon. The near constant question I get is “when do you sleep?” Everything is a compromise.

I start by taking care of myself first, having a routine is the thing that helps me most, I guess I am a creature of habit, but breakfast, and training is how I start my day, when I am running, cycling, or swimming, I am able to organize my thoughts, and build a game plan for the day, it helps me get prepared, and regulates my mood, and anxiety level.

I have to focus on work through out the day, once I am home in the late afternoon, I make an effort to turn off technology, and spend time with my family, playing with the boys, making dinner, I love that we always sit down to have dinner together, and getting everybody ready for bed. Once the boys are in bed, I am able to have dedicated time for the startup, partnership, and work in the sim. On the weekends, time with my family is the priority, there are few opportunities during the afternoon, and evening to make progress on the startup, or work in on Road America.

Here is my method for working in iRacing, I am a big fan of data, so Virtual Racing School is a huge asset, I have a subscription that allows me to look at all of the data packs, and compare my times, with their excellent analytical tools. Additionally, I work with David Murry, and his webinars, he has a turn by turn breakdown of Road America that is incredibly detailed. I attempt to use the same approach for working in the sim, as I use when actually at the track, I take notes, look at video, and data, and then create a checklist of items to work on. This approach helps me feel prepared, and confident coming into the weekend. In addition to all of this preparation I have made it a goal for the season to work with a coach each weekend. I will be working with David on Friday, and Tom O’Gorman on Saturday.

A quick update on the partnership, and startup front, I was able to spend some time this week with Joe Speed from ADLink Technology, he has graciously offer the use of one of the NVIDIA Jetson Xavier DevKits, and Amit Goel from NVIDIA’s embedded team sent over a carrier, this is really going to accelerate the development of the models that we are running in the car.

#soufiyard

As usual things are pretty busy, was able to take a small break, and get to the track this last Friday night. Edge Addicts runs an awesome event called COTA Under the Lights that starts at 3pm, and runs until 11pm. It got dark around 9pm, and both Danny, and I were able to get a session in the dark, turn 7 is epic. We made some good memories!

My old computer died, need one to get ready for Road America. So I finally decided to upgrade, got some pretty good kit, makes for a nice workstation, and looks rad with blinkenlights too.

I have always been a big fan of AMD, went with a Threadripper 2, and a newer NVIDIA card, I usually try to buy the previous generation, or mid-level spec, and give myself room to upgrade. This machine has 32-core, and 32GB of memory with a 2070RTX. I can expand up to 128GB of memory, and add another 2070 in the future if I decide to do some more development outside of the cloud.

We continue to work on proposals for partnerships, hope to start closing the gap by the end of this month, will hopefully be able to share more soon on that front. Training has been going really well, stepped up to 4-days per week about a month ago, and have already dropped another 10Lbs.

After Action Report – Mid-Ohio

Overview: A clean sweep, took P1 in class all weekend, set the GTB1 track record, and won the worker’s choice award! I continued my approach of working with professional coaches, and was able to work with the exceptionally talented Tom O’Gorman.

Goals and objectives: My goal was to be consistent, and adaptable, and take what the track would give me. I knew I had a couple areas to work on from my time spent in iRacing.

Analysis of outcomes: Mid-Ohio is a fun track, with great flow, and cool technical section. Tom was able to help me find a lot of time through turns 4, and 9. We spent time reviewing video, taking notes, and then by the last practice session pulled data, and started making fine tuned adjustments to my braking, and turn-in. He gave me some incredibly thoughtful, and actionable feedback, that will help me regardless of the track.

Analysis of the performance shown on critical tasks: Flew in on Thursday, got the car, garage, registration, and tech inspection sorted. On Friday we had the practice sessions, and fun race. It rained on Friday afternoon, so we opted to skip the practice starts, as it is a high-risk, zero reward session. Saturday morning was qualifying, I was able to secure the pole position with the fastest lap running at a 1:32.0. I was able to lead race 1 from green to checker, and got really comfortable working my way through lap traffic, and was able to keep consistent lap times throughout. Race 2 I started on the pole again, and led again from start to finish, was able to get more experience working through traffic, and focus on my goals in Turn 4, and Turn 9.

Sunday morning it was dry, and cool, the perfect time to go for a lap record! We stuck with a set of scrubs that around 6-7 heat cycles. Went out with a little extra tire pressure so they would come in fast, and on the third lap, I put down a flyer, coming in at 1:31, nearly half a second faster than the previous lap record. The 75-minute Enduro race was later in the day, so I opted to go back to the hotel, and rest up. We needed to execute a perfect pit-stop, with fueling to maintain our position, with just me, and Brendon from Gradient. It went off flawlessly, the official even said “like a fine-tuned machine” My tires got better throughout, my lap times were consistent, and went down over the course of the race, and I finished in P1 at the checker.

Summary: I really had an incredible experience working with Tom, he went above, and beyond sending me personalized preparation materials. He gave me actionable, and measurable feedback, took the time to get into the data to help me fine tune, and then wrote up a very thoughtful set of notes. I used iRacing extensively to prepare, and attended the David Murry webinar. I stuck with my process, watching video, taking notes, comparing telemetry after the day, picking small specific, and measurable goals, that supported my outcomes. A highlight of the weekend was to work with the amazing Brendon Poulin from Gradient Racing, he is very professional, experienced, and was an immense help both in the car, and out.

Recommendations: I need to get more confident putting the power down, consistently as I track out, particularly in Turn 1, I need to work on faster hands, and being more decisive on turn-in.

Excited for Sebring

Crazy week coming up, have a work event in Las Vegas for two days, will then make my way from there to Sebring. I am really looking forward to working with David Murry, I’ve spent a bunch of time working through his webinar. iRacing, and Virtual Racing School have been invaluable for preparation. My experience with this approach for Road America, was that it helped me get comfortable more quickly, and focus on the detail of getting to consistence lap times. Thus far I have been able to get into the 2:09’s at Sebring, need to get a couple more seconds off aiming for 2:07’s which in the real world will probably be about 10 seconds slower. I hope all the travel goes smoothly, wish me luck!

Practice, Product, and Progress

I’ve been spending time in iRacing learning the line, got both of David Murry’s excellent Sebring, and Car Suspension webinars, as well as reviewing playbacks from the VRS datapacks. I really look forward to working with David directly on the Test/Tune day before the weekend at Sebring. I was also able to spend some very productive time this week out at Harris Hill with Andris of Gradient Racing. More seat time, and getting everybody familiar with the car is always a good thing

David Murry in the BGB #38

Over the holiday, I got a lot of work done on the trackNotes app, it is nearly ready for an alpha release. I am using creator, for the front-end, and firebase for the backend. I put together some wireframes for another app I am developing called setupBoard, that will work either standalone or together with trackNotes. Regarding my work with Kubeflow, it has gone very well, I was able to train against my dataset with multiple models, distributed across three cloud providers: GCP, AWS, and IBM. Inception v3 is the current leader with predictions of 85% accuracy against the ground truth in testing. I am going to test a couple more models: Random Forest, a TF Boosted Tree, and a DNN Classifier. Once I have another round of training, and testing I will start working through AI assisted hyper-parameter tuning to see if I can get the error rate any better. At that point I will switch gears and start working on the front-end.

setupBoard wireframe in creator.ionic.io

On the health front, I was having a hard time finding someone who could help me with both my nutrition, and training. I was referred to Phil Gephart who immediately exceeded my expectations for his knowledge, and professionalism. Phil is awesome! He worked with me to switch around my macros, added some supplements, changed up my training program, I am already seeing some incredible results with a 3% drop in body fat within the first week!

Signed up for Sebring!

Registered for Sebring, Feb 01-03 really looking forward to driving at this track, I plan to run the Triple Trofeo this year: Sebring, Road Atlanta, Road America, plus a couple others: COTA, and Watkins Glen (Barber didn’t make it on the schedule for 2019). Time to start getting ready, I am going to get the Ross Bentley, and David Murry webinars. Need to get going in iRacing as well.