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.

Soufi, Yard, Et Al

The GT4 Program is coming along we are working on our partnership strategy, I am currently tracking over 50 active opportunities. I have negotiated sponsorship arrangements with a couple key partners, and will start running contests, and giveaways to test out some cross promotion, expect to see offers for OGIO, Spy, Neff, Skullcandy, Highbrew Coffee, and Clif Bar, and Co.

We decided to make a landing page for the Soufi / Yard collaboration, and are working to get the site up, and running, we will let everybody know when its ready to launch. Our next event will be at COTA Under the Lights, really looking forward to driving at night again, it reminds me of the exhilaration I had when I first started driving.

On a related topic, I was selected for patient of the month by Optifast, and am being featured on their facebook, and instagram feeds, I joined them last year in New York and spent the day with the team.

Current Focus – GT4 2020

Over the past couple weeks I have been working on building a GT4 program with Danny Soufi for the 2020 season. We plan to run gt4america with support from Gradient Racing. I have been working together with Danny, Ashley, and many others on getting on sponsorship program together, thus far we have had really positive feedback. I can see a couple deals on the horizon, that will allow us to run a successful season. The sponsorship program we are structuring is unique in that we are including back-end marketing analytics integration with Segment. It is a ton of work, and challenging to keep everything balanced, with my day job, training routine, and family commitments. I am using HubSpot to keep track of all the deals, leads, set tasks, and follow-ups, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find, and interact with prospects.

I have also been continuing work on the startup, recently visited Detroit, and attended the excellent IPG local open house, was able to interact with their customers, and partners, and garner their support for my endeavors of commercializing. Very exciting to have them onboard as a partner, looking forward to our next steps.

The next race that I am preparing for is a little far away Road America over Labor Day, I was sitting first nationally in GTB1 after Mid-Ohio, but have slipped down to 3rd having not participated at Watkins Glen, and will likely drop back further with VIR this weekend. Going to stay focused on my training program, and preparation routine, the goal is to take the Triple Trofeo.

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.

What’s the crack

At the end of April when I got back from Road Atlanta, I put the finishing touches on my application for the Department of Transportation Small Business Innovation Research program. I focused on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Automated Driving Systems (ADS) Test Data Interface. I have not revealed too much about what I have been working on but this may give you an idea. The SBIR program provides a Phase I grant of up to $150,000 to produce research, and a report on the topic, and opens the opportunity to pursue commercialization funding under Phase II of up to $500,000. Since I am attempting to bootstrap this is very attractive

I am continuing work on the development of a Vehicle Dynamic Simulation environment, having a discussion with Doug Milliken, I was able to get tire test data directly from Pirelli, which is an excellent development. I am in talks with IPG for large-scale testing, and was able to join MatLab Startup Program. Everything is moving in the right direction.

In other news, I am getting ready for Mid-Ohio, in a couple weeks this will be the second race for the Pirelli Triple Trofeo. I am planning to work with Tom O’Gorman while there so I can pick up the track quickly. Spending lots of time in iRacing, and going to participate in the David Murry webinar this coming week. Some really exciting news is that I am currently running 3rd in GTB1 nationally, which is pretty awesome!

I am working on putting together a GT4 program with Danny Soufi for 2020 to run in the SRO GT4 America. It will be a lot of work, trying to figure out how to get a bunch of sponsors onboard to help us fund the program, and working out how to get the car, looking at the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport,