Overview: A successful weekend, won the Triple Trofeo! Took P1 in class for the second sprint race, and the enduro! I came in one day early to work with David Murry, and then during practice the following day worked with Tom O’Gorman.
Goals and objectives: As has been the case this year my goal was to be consistent, and adaptable, and take what the track would give me. Particularly hard at this track in that it is 4..04 miles. The challenge turns 1, and 3 need to be driven perfectly every lap.
Analysis of outcomes: Road America is a big boy flow track, few technical sections, very high speed, it tested my ability to be consistent. David was able to help me find a theme, and technique that could be applied to every turn which netted a huge gain in lap times. I then spent time with Tom working through putting all the rest of the tenths of seconds together, ultimately shaving 7.5 seconds total off my lap time over the Test, and Turn, and practice sessions. The process I have adopted from David Murry, and Tom is to spend time reviewing video, after each session, taking notes, and walk into the next session with 2-3 areas of focus. Once, I am able to get consistent then pull data, and work through fine tuning adjustments, which at Road America was maintaining rolling speed through the corner, or not over braking. Both coaches gave incredibly thoughtful, and actionable feedback.
Analysis of the performance shown on critical tasks: Flew into Milwaukee on Thursday, then drove up to Plymouth, WI where I stayed. On Friday the weather was excellent starting in the 50’s and going up to low 80’s we ran 5 test, and tune sessions, where I netted a 5 second gain over last years lap times. Saturday morning was practice, with qualifying in the afternoon, working with Tom I was able to gain an additional 2.5 seconds over two practice session. The qualifying session was challenging, I tried something and it didn’t work. In qualifying we were going out under the green flag which means you can pass on the out lap. I tried to jump the field by passing all the cars in front of me while straddling the blend line, it was awesome I had the whole track to myself, unfortunately race control didn’t like it, and made me serve a stop, and go. After rolling through the pits, I had to find a gap we tried for one, didn’t work, rolled through the pits again to take out some tire pressure, and tried for another gap, and found one on the last lap, I was able to take P2 in qualifying bu 0.2 seconds.
On Sunday we had a warm-up, and two sprint races one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. In the first race two laps in, I made contact with one of my competitors which knocked me out of the race with a bent wheel. Charles from Gradient Racing heroically went over the entire car, fixed the bumper, and put smart strings on it, and got me back out for my second sprint race. In the second race I was able to pick up 6 positions in 5 laps starting P14, and finishing P8 overall, and P1 in the GTB1 class.
Monday had a warm-up session, and 90-minute Enduro scheduled for the afternoon. The weather continued to be excellent cool, and dry. We bought a new tire for my LF which was damage during the first sprint race, so that I had a decent set of tires for the 90-minute race. The Enduro race was later in the day, so I opted to go back to the hotel, and take a rest, came back to the track to watch the finish vintage group race, and grab lunch. My lap time during the second race qualified me for the pole position during the Enduro. There were a couple incidents during the race, one of them being very significant with a car rolling over outside of turn 8, this caused a black all where they cleared the track for 10 minutes, went back out with 3 laps remaining, and was able to maintain my position, and finished P1 in class.
Summary: I really had an incredible experience working with both David, and Tom. It has been critical for me to build up the language necessary to discuss the technique required to get the most out of the car. Working with two different coaches helped me to develop that language very quickly. Both Tom, and David gave me actionable, and measurable feedback, which I was able to translate into execution. I used iRacing extensively to prepare, running over 500 laps in simulation. I stuck with my process, watching video, taking notes, comparing telemetry after every day, picking small specific, and measurable goals, that supported my outcomes.
Recommendations: I need to take the technique that I learned while working with David of turning in earlier with slower hands on other tracks to see if that will help me carry more rolling speed through the corners. The technique that I worked on with Tom is being more intentional when the platform, and my feet are stable, I can be very decisive with my hands.
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.
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.
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.
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.