February 17, 2016
Engines on Engines on Engines
With a new year comes new challenges and I was excited to be driving a Formula Atlantic car for the first time. As I mentioned in my previous pre-race update, Atlantics are extremely fast cars and are essentially one step below a Champ Car or Indy Car.
I arrived at the track, Palm Beach International Raceway, on Thursday after a late flight on Wednesday night. After getting fitted to the car, I was able to get a couple of practice sessions in which I was quickest in both.
Friday started off well as we improved the car and I turned my best time of the weekend. However, we blew a head gasket during the session and we were forced to make an engine change. I missed the rest of the day which was unfortunate.
My mechanic Yonah worked hard to get another engine in before qualifying on Saturday. I was excited to get back in the car especially because I really only had had two and half sessions in the car. I was also going to wear my new helmet for the first time (haha). Anyway, after a couple of laps there was sudden decrease in power and then the engine let go. The really frustrating part is that it only had two laps on it! After looking at the data, we think something just failed internally. Going through 2 engines in 2 days is not fun.
Despite the few laps I did get, I really enjoyed my time in the car and hopefully I'll get the chance to do more!
February 10, 2016
I'm excited to announce that I will be competing in a Formula Atlantic car this weekend at Palm Beach International Raceway! In a way, the Atlantic is similar to the 962 as it's an icon to racing fans across the world.
These cars are straight up beasts. The one I am driving, which is a Swift 016 powered by Mazda / Cosworth, has about 300 hp (about 3 times what the F1600 has) and weighs only slightly more than 1400 pounds. Not to mention, they produce an incredible amount of downforce allowing them to corner at extremely high speeds and require a braking force of 1500 lbs to drive the car at its limit. Additionally, I think these cars are some of the most beautiful formula cars, even though they are slightly older than the modern Indy Lights car or GP3 car.
I will also be debuting my new helmet this weekend. I can't wait to use it, and I'm super happy with how it turned out. My painter, TJ Koyen at Octane Visual, did an incredible job adding some subtle details but still keeping the design super clean.
I can't wait to get behind the wheel. It's going to feel great to push hard again!
February 3, 2016
Legends Never Die
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to drive a Porsche 962 IMSA GTP car at the Daytona International Speedway for the Historic Exhibition event. This was a very special experience for me, given my dad's history with the 962 - especially at Daytona where he won the 24 hour event 29 years ago. For those who aren't familiar with the 962, it is a legend in the motorsports world, as it was one of the dominate forces in global prototype racing during the 80's. It is literally a fire breathing monster putting out close to 800 horsepower thanks to the help of a single, massive turbo. The turbo demands a unique driving style as when you initially go to power, you don't really feel it because the turbo isn't spooled up. But once it builds boost, the car literally feels like its taking off!
During the 24 minute exhibition, I was able to get some clean laps and get a taste of what a beast the car is. The cars were capable of over 200 mph, and even though there isn't a speedometer, it sure felt fast!
As referenced in the title, legends never die. I think the 962 epitomizes this as the amount of people, young and old, who were attracted to the car was a bit astounding. Not only the history of the car, but just the way it looks and sounds is something that really brings people in.
Without Kim and Gordon Zimmerman giving me the opportunity to drive the car, this once on a lifetime experience wouldn't have happened. I am extremely lucky that they were kind enough to let me experience a car that in the minds of many, is priceless. Also big thanks to my man Bob Russo for helping out with the car.
November 12, 2015
Everything is Bigger in Texas
This past weekend, I was at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for the final SVRA race of the year. The SVRA is a vintage racing series that has some very cool cars that show up. There were two Benneton F1 cars there in addition to the Audi R8 prototype that ran in IMSA in the early 2000s. With this being my first time at COTA, let alone Texas. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I've heard so much about COTA and Austin as a city, that I was wondering if it would really live up to it's hype.
After arriving, I was lucky enough to be asked to co-drive with one of K-Hill's vintage drivers, Lee Brahin, in his 2008 Dallara Indy Lights car in the 90 minute enduro race on Sunday. Fortunately, I was able to get a couple laps under my belt before the race in the morning warm-up session. The Lights car has almost four times the horsepower (420 hp) that the F1600 has so that was a bit of an adjustment! But overall it was a lot of fun trying to control the car with the throttle. It also sounds awesome which is always a big check mark in my book! Besides the power, the gear box was an awesome addition. With it being a 6 speed sequential box, it feels like you are hustling the car- trying to catch a slide with one hand and upshifting with the other. On a paddle shift system, your hands never leave the wheel which doesn't give you quite the same sensation. Additionally, the gear box is super crisp on your downshifts, and each gear you pull on the upshifts, you feel the car surge forward. The weight of the car was also a bit different as it weighs quite a bit more than the 1600. You could really feel this in some of the tight corners where you felt like you were just waiting for the car to rotate.
Lee started off the race and after a solid opening stint, brought the car in for me to close out the race. This was a little bit different than what I've been used to in the past as only once before have I had to hop in a car and be on race pace right away.
I started to click off laps and work my way through slower traffic, which was something that I do not have a lot of experience with. Because we are on track with a variety of different cars, each one has it's own set of strengths and weaknesses that you have to be able to identify. Some cars might be able to brake as deep as you, but not have the same amount of power so you work on trying to pass them out of the corner. Others might be quicker in a straight-line but can't slow down as quickly, so you try to identify a corner where you can out-brake them without losing too much time. These are the harder cars to pass as down the long back straight you can't simply power by them, you have to wait until you are in a tighter section and try to set up a pass.
After a couple of minutes into my stint, I found a rhythm through traffic and set the quickest lap of the race. I continued to work my way through the field until I found myself in the lead with about 10 minutes remaining. Behind me, my teammate Tonis Kasemets, who was also in an Indy Lights car, kept hot on my heels as we worked through traffic. Tonis finished 2nd in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2005 and went on to race Champ Car. Anyway, I picked up my aggression level just a bit to try and increase the gap. With about 5 minutes to go, Tonis was able to sneak by for lead. I didn't give up and pushed hard to find a way back by, but I had to settle for 2nd overall.
I was pretty happy with my performance in the race as it was my first time in the car and at COTA. The track was a really good fit for the Indy Lights with a good mix of long straight aways and slow corners where you could really feel the torque of the engine. For me personally, it's pretty cool to have been able to drive one of these beasts as they are the last step before IndyCar. The element of traffic is something still quite new to me and a challenge I look forward to in the future. It is my goal to become an endurance racing driver where you are dealing with multiple classes on track at once, and it is something that is essential to becoming the complete driver. A big thanks to K-Hill for accommodating me and Lee for giving me the chance!
October 15, 2015
Goin' for the 'ship
It's finally here! Championship weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!
After a strong run the second half of the season, collecting 3 wins out of 6 races and only finishing off the podium once, I currently sit in 2nd position in the standings. It's a pretty decent size gap to the points leader, but all I can do is focus on myself and everything will sort itself out.
Since my last report about New Jersey, my team owner Kris Kaiser was generous enough to let me test an 014 and 016 Atlantic car. These cars supported the Champ Car series in the early to mid 2000s and is essentially at the same level as an Indy Lights car. Ever since seeing one on track, I've been itching to drive an 016... they look so cool and make all the right noises. Both cars were a lot of fun to drive and if the opportunity presents itself, I would love to do more.
If you are interested in following along this weekend, I have attached a couple links to the schedule and live timing page.
Here is a link to the schedule. I'll be in the F1600 class: http://www.f1600series.com/pdfs/2015pittoctschedule.pdf
The following link will take you to live timing: http://www.f1600series.com/f16live/
August 28, 2015
Tomorrow, I hit the track at the New Jersey Motorsports Park for the 6th round of the F1600 Championship Series.
Coming off a win at Pittsburgh, we're ready to continue our form and hopefully pull off some more W's before the seasons over. We are pretty far behind the leader for the championship, but with a little but of luck, we can be right there.
I've been to NJMP one time before and that was last year when Eric and I were testing the Radon F2000 car. Its a decent little track with a bit of everything. It has some blind corners where car placement is critical otherwise you'll end up in the weeds big time. There are no super long straights like there are at VIR or Road Atlanta so it'll be interesting to see how the draft works out.
If you are in the area and would like to come out, just let me know and I'll make sure you are on the list to get in. Here is a link to the schedule so you have an idea of when I'll be racing. http://www.f1600series.com/pdfs/2015njmpschedule.pdf
August 19, 2015
Its been a little while since my last race in the F1600 Championship Series, but it was a good one so I figured better late than never!
For the fifth round of the championship, we would be tackling the Pittsburgh International Race Complex and its brand new extension. It had been a pretty tough year leading up to this weekend as I had not scored a win yet, but had numerous podiums and, I believe, the most fast race laps out of anyone. The pace was there for sure, but we just needed the cards to fall our way.
Thursday and Friday both marked practice days for us. Even though the new extension doubled the track length from last year, I didn’t feel I had any problem getting up to speed on the new pavement. We were consistently very quick by ourselves, while pretty much the rest of the field had to rely on a draft to run our pace. Of course it’s practice, so you have to take the times with a grain of salt, but hey, the car felt hooked up!
Heading into qualifying, I felt pretty confident that we would be on the front row. When we first rolled out, I set the pace almost right off the bat, but as people started to catch drafts, the times dropped and I slipped back a bit. Not gonna lie, it can get a little frustrating when you aren't making progress up the speed charts after you put down a flier. But then again, you have to remember that it’s 1600 and a draft lap can be worth up to a 1.5 second, depending on the track. I managed to sneak one last lap in before qualifying concluded to end up P4, about .150 of a second of the pole time. I was a little surprised we ended up where we did, but if you look at the lap times, we were right there.
The first race started off with a little bit of drama as the outside pole sitter tried to push the pole sitter into the grass before the green flag. I thought it was a bit ridiculous myself, because the race hadn’t even started yet. To make my point, I made it three wide going into the first turn and drove around the outside of the guy who started P2. I almost made it to P1 as well, but the pole sitter chopped me a bit so I had to back out of the gas and I slipped back to about 5th. All the hustle and bustle of the first lap came to an end when we had a full course caution come out after the first lap. Well, it depended on who you were, as some of the corner stations didn't display the flag so some people continued to race while I slowed down. I naturally fell back but was given the positions back. At the restart, I started P4 and promptly made my way to the lead and started to stretch a gap. However, a massive incident behind me took out 3 cars resulted in another full course cation. I was thinking to myself “Why is this happening to me while I’m in the lead”. However, I knew that I was going to have to deal with whatever cards I was dealt and do the best I could. As the laps wound down, I positioned myself for run to the the win. On the last lap, I made my move going down the front straight into Turn 1. I went in deep on the brakes, and made the move stick to take the lead. I knew I had 85% of the lap left, so I defended for my life and took my first win of the year! It was pretty rewarding to finally come out on top. I think a lot of people were pulling for me and I was congratulated by just about everyone who I was racing with. It was really cool to see my friend and probably my biggest rival Scott Andrews pull up next to me and give me two thumbs up on the cool off lap.
My second race went pretty well and I ended up P3 after a tough battle for the win. I had myself positioned for a shot at the win, but it didn’t quite work out. I learned though and I know what I need to do when we go back in October! We were hoping to close things out strong in Race 3. We stiffened the rear bar for the afternoon race to reduce the understeer / push in the car from the morning’s race. For some reason, when I was on track, the car was almost undriveable with understeer. When the guys got back to the shop, they found that one of the rear bars had come loose which effectively softened the rear of the car. This completely threw the balance of the car off as it gave the rear end entirely too much grip. I ended up P6, and I was trying to squeeze every little bit out of the car.
Funny story from the weekend. When my dad’s coworkers from the series where standing in the elevator with their SCCA shirts on, a guy comes up to them and says “My cousin races in the SCCA, do you know so-and-so?” Well it turns out so-and-so was me! It was pretty ironic how my cousin and I were staying at the same hotel in Pittsburgh when we both live in Augusta! He was there for the Pro Disc Golf Association World Championships but he was able to make it out on Saturday for my first win of the year!
Overall, I was pretty happy with the weekend. It was a massive relief to get my first win! The rear bar coming off in the last race was pretty unfortunate and made the car a pig to drive. But we will rebound and come back strong at the New Jersey Motorsports Park on August 28-30!
Looking for a horseshoe...
It's been a pretty tough first half of the year for me in the F1600 Championship Series. We've been in a position to win multiple times, but the cards haven't quite fallen our way. It's been frustrating at times, but I'm sure when we do get that win, it'll be that much sweeter. The K-Hill Motorsports team and I will be heading to the Pittsburgh International Race Complex this weekend. We currently sit 2nd in points after drops, and have a shot at the championship despite missing two races at Road Atlanta due to a circumstance outside of my control. It's a long shot, but we need some luck which we really haven't had much of this year. Last year here at Pitt Race, we had two good runs in the F2000 car. I'll be looking for more of the same this year, even though they have added a brand new extension to the track which will completely change the complexion of the circuit. We will be pushing hard!
Virginia is for lovers... and racers
June 15, 2015
This past weekend, I was back in the K-Hill Motorsports Mygale F1600 car after a lengthy break.
Virginia International Raceway has the appearance more of being at a vacation spot than at a race track. The rolling hills and tree line around the track make it one of the most beautiful tracks in North America. But don't get me wrong, its mix of slow, technical corners and fast "pucker up" turns make it a challenge.
We had a good "twilight test" on Thursday where I ended up P1, but we struggled a little bit for pace on Friday. At the same time, I wasn't too worried considering I never got a draft lap, which can be worth up to a second and half due to the two long straight aways. Regardless, Saturday would show what our true pace was in a race situation.
After a rough qualifying session, I would start Race 1 in the 12th position. I knew the key to having a solid finish would be having a clean start and working my through the field as the race developed.
With the start going according to plan, I set about carving my way to the lead group. About halfway through the race, I found myself running P5 and in the hunt for the win. Unfortunately, being in the hot air of other cars caused the engine temperature to rise to a sweltering 225 degrees, due to the fact that cool air wasn't flowing through the radiators. With the power plant that we have in the car, the ECU starts to retard the engine timing when it senses the engine is getting too hot. Even though I was able to hang with the lead pack, I could't find a way through to the lead and I ended up 5th.
I did secure quickest race lap though which would set me on pole for Race 2. I had a really good start and got a good jump on the field. However, with the draft playing such a huge part in F1600 racing, I was passed going down the back straight which relegated me to P2. Things took a pretty dramatic turn when I was hit from behind sending me into a slow spin which I saved, but I lost the lead draft. I put my head down and drove my way back up to the lead pack but I again had overheating issues and had trouble making my way to the front of the group. With about 3 laps to go, I had an off course excursion from pushing too hard which moved me back to 12th where I finished.
Again, I had good race pace so I was set to start Race 3 from P3. A clean first lap had things looking promising. I fought tooth and nail to be at the front of the pack (never falling below 4th) making sure I kept the engine cool which would keep the ECU from retarding the timing. I had positioned myself well with two laps to go running P4. Going into the first turn, two cars ahead of me got together collecting me and causing some left front suspension damage. I crossed the finish line in 6th which was pretty disappointing considering the position we were in.
So far, a win had been illusive. But I am confident it will just be a matter of time before the cards fall our way and we start winning races.
Spur of the Moment
April 17, 2015
Last week, I headed to Road Atlanta for the F1600 Championship Series, F2000 Championship Series, and Atlantic Series races. My plan was to hang around and see if I could get a ride in some sort of car for the weekend. Things materialized pretty quickly as I was able to arrange a ride with K-Hill Motorsports Wednesday night for the Thursday test day in a Mygale F1600 car! We both wanted to see how things went on the test day before a commitment was made for the full weekend. It was my first time back in a 1600 car after my season with Cliff Dempsey Racing in England.
Even though there was no official timing, we felt we were right on pace so we decided to run the whole weekend.
In our first session on Friday, we were 11th quickest. However, I never got a lap in the draft which makes a massive difference at Road Atlanta. Typically it's a second quicker than a lap by yourself without a draft, so we felt pretty confidant we would be in the hunt.
It rained before our second session and we decided not to go out. We didn't really feel that it was necessary to risk the car in the wet especially if it wasn't going to rain during the weekend.
I felt ready to go for qualifying Saturday mornings my teammate and I had a plan to draft together so we could qualify towards the front of the field. I had a slight problem though, as I headed into the first brake zone... no brakes!!! I took it easy the rest of the lap so we could diagnose the problem in the pits. Once the boys got a chance to look at the foot box, the pedal was hitting the steering column because we made a pedal adjustment the night before to compensate for a few pounds of weight that was put under my seat. The call was made to roll the car back to the trailer where we cut the top half of the pedal off in the middle of the session. I headed back out hoping I could get a decent lap in so I would be towards the front of the field. After a lap, I knew that the problem wasn't solved as the car wasn't stopping like it should have. I came back in because I know if I tried to push any harder, there was a big risk of going off and damaging the car. I ended the session 16th which obviously wasn't where we wanted to be but in F1600 racing, you can use the draft to make your way to the front.
For the race, we bled the brakes to get any air out of the system and readjusted the pedal to make sure we had extra clearance. Thankfully, that was the fix for the problem and I was ready to carve my way to front.
As soon as we went green, I knew it was going to be an insane start. Our first time down the back straight, cars were 3 wide, 4 deep. This is what F1600 racing is all about! I was able to make my way up to 8th before there was a massive crash involving two cars and we had a lengthy caution period which took up about half the race time.
When we went back to green, we had only a few laps left so I knew it was going to be a sprint to finish. I was able to make my way to 4th and started to work with Scott Andrews, who was in 3rd place, to catch the two leaders who had small gap over us two. Unfortunately, it was the last lap and I didn't know it as I didn't catch the white flag and we didn't have a radio in the car. When I came down the hill to Turn 12 and saw the checkered flag waving, I was pretty bummed because I could have challenged for 3rd. But 16th to 4th wasn't too bad, and I had fastest race lap so I would start P1 for Race 2. Things were looking good until...
Until one of the teams needed a spare car because one of theirs was destroyed in the crash early in my race. My team owner and I discussed how this was going to work out. If I was able to commit to the season Saturday, he would save the car and I would race Sunday. If I couldn't commit, he would rent the car out to the other driver. In the end I couldn't make a commitment as we have some other options we are considering for this year so the car was rented out. I understand everyone's situation in the deal. The driver needed the car as he is going for the championship while I was only doing Road Atlanta. Meanwhile, the team owner had the chance to rent the car. It was disappointing for sure after all was said and done as I felt we had a great chance of improving our finishing position as I was starting at the front of the field.
I think it was a pretty good showing for just hoping in the car Thursday and not having any plan whatsoever to compete over the course of the weekend. A big thanks goes out to Kris and the guys at K-Hill for the seat. I know they would like me to run with them again, but we are evaluating all our options for this year. Hopefully we'll know by next week!
Down, Around, and Up at Sebring
March 25, 2015
If I had to chose one word to describe our week, it would have to be "tough". We started our week on Tuesday with a blown engine in our second practice, so things weren't off to a great start.
We changed to an engine that Elan, the spec engine builder, had on their trailer for official practice on Wednesday. Unfortunately, we lost the straight-line speed we had on Tuesday and we were at the bottom of the speed trap. Because the engines are all sealed by Elan, we were pretty much stuck with what we had for the remainder of the week.
While we struggled with top end speed, we continued to improve the handling of the car. This was my first time working with my engineer in Lites, Tim Lewis. The relationship between the driver and engineer is critical in order to have a strong car so throughout the week, Tim and I were building our relationship. I think we worked well together and
improved the car. It showed on the time sheets as we started out P13 in the first practice and by the end of the week, we had top 5 pace.
We qualified at 8 am on Thursday as the first group of cars on track so the surface was a bit dirty from the night before. It took a while for the track to get cleaned off but, once it did, I was able to lay down the 8th quickest time which would put me on the outside row for the start of Race 1.
I had a pretty good initial start and I was able to move up a couple of positions by turn 1, but my row checked up and I lost everything I had gained (and more) which put me in 11th. For the remainder of the race, I clawed my way up to 7th but we had a late race caution and we ended under yellow. That was a little disappointing as I felt I could have passed for 6th and run down P5.
For Race 2, I would start P6, so again on the outside. There really wasn't a space to fit in on the inside so I decided to sail it into 1 on the outside and see if I could make up a couple positions. It almost paid off but I wasn't quite up along side Matt McMurry for P4 so I backed out and slipped to 6th, which wasn't bad - I still maintained my starting position. A lap or two later, Kenton Koch who was really quick all week got around me and I slipped to 7th. He started on pole for race 1 but had some sort of issue and had to start 10th in race 2. I knew he was much quicker so I didn't fight him that hard and figured that I would try to tuck in behind him and follow him through the field. It kinda worked... I made it back up to 6th. After things settled down, I started to run down Matt and Nico Jamin for 4th and 5th. A caution came out though and bunched things back up. A caution can be good, or it can be bad. In this case it wasn't a good thing as after the initial restart going into the turn 7 hairpin, I was nailed in the side at the apex of the turn which compromised my run to turn 10. I defended and the same kid who hit me tried to make a pass in the grass in the brake zone and I got collected at the apex again. I was spun around and fell to 21st.
This is where it gets good.
For the next 30 minutes, I just put my head down and drove as hard as could. I passed car after car and made it back to P7 when things were all said and done. I remember sitting in the transporter after the race and asking my mechanic Chris "Where did we finish, like 15th?" And he replied "No man you were P7!". Huh? I could hardly believe it but I guess I was so in the zone that I didn't realize I had passed so many cars.
It was a rough weekend, between engine troubles and getting taken out when we had the pace for a top 5. But some things are out of your control and we did the best we could with what we had. We improved throughout the weekend which was a positive, but at the same time we don't show up at the race track to run top 5. We need to get the engine deal sorted for sure, because as I mentioned earlier we were close to the bottom if not at the bottom of the speed trap.
I am working on putting some things together for the next round at NOLA during the IndyCar race. Hopefully something falls into place in the next couple of days. I really want to get back in the car again and show what we are capable of.
Sebring... Here I Come!
March 16, 2015
Well, it's official! I will be joining Extreme Speed Motorsports for the IMSA Prototype Lites race supporting the 12 Hours of Sebring!
This is an awesome opportunity and it will be my first time supporting a pro event. The really cool thing about this being my first IMSA race is that my dad won the actual 12 hour race here in 1990.
The IMSA Lites cars are a step-up from the F2000 I raced last year, and are basically one rung below professional prototype racing on the sports car ladder. The analogy I like to use is that the IMSA Lites category is similar to Indy Lights or the NASCAR Nationwide Series in regard to its place on the development ladder in each respective discipline.
Some of you may be familiar with the name Extreme Speed Motorsports. More than likely, you probably have seen their bright green and black LMP2 cars competing in the IMSA Tudor Uniter Sports Car Championship. For me personally, it's neat to align myself with a team that is so well known to sports car fans across North America, and even the world.
We will have a promoter test day on Tuesday with an IMSA sanctioned practice day on Wednesday. We qualify and race on Thursday, followed by a race early Friday morning to close out our event.
I believe they will have live timing for the practice, qualifying, and races at the following link.
I also have included a schedule so you know what times to tune in. We are listed on the schedule as Lites. http://www.imsa.com/sites/default/files/uploads/2015%20IMSA%20Official%20Schedule%20and%20SR%20Sebring%200031115.pdf
Another cool thing that will happen over the course of the weekend is that the winner of the 21st Gorsline Scholarship will be announced. I am a finalist for the award along with two other young drivers, Madison Snow and Dylan Murry. The award for winning the scholarship includes some lessons with sports psychiatrist Jacques Dallaire and physical training sessions with Jim Leo at PitFit. I am really hoping to win this award as these opportunities will serve as very useful tools moving forward in my career. Also, I will be joining the likes of Indy Car driver Josef Newgarden, factory Porsche driver Patrick Long, and Danica Patrick as a recipient of the award if I win.
I am super looking forward to this and going against a good sized field. It is going to be very competitive as there are 6-7 guys who will be "in the hunt".
Let's get it!
Back in the Sunshine State
February 12, 2015
After a week and a half in Georgia, I'm back in Florida for the F2000 Winter Exhibition at Palm Beach International Raceway.
I'll be racing the Radon chassis that I tested earlier this year in New Orleans. This weekend will give us a good chance to compare ourselves to other F2000 cars as our prior tests have been with other classes of cars.
I think both my engineer Eric and I have been pretty happy with the car to date. One of the really noticeable handling characteristics of the car is how well it rides over curbs and bumps.
Palm Beach is a track I haven't been to before, so tomorrow morning will be my first time on track. I'm ready to get back in the car and we are all excited to see the pace of the car in a competitive situation.
You can follow along through out the weekend here. http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/f2live/. Also, I've included a schedule so you'll have an idea of when I'm on track. http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/pdfs/pbr_schedule_2015_2.pdf
February 3, 2015
The last couple of weeks have taken me all across the east coast, from Maryland, to New Orleans, to Augusta, then Daytona, and then back to Augusta. To kick off the gauntlet, I drove up to Maryland to get fitted to the Radon F2000 car which was getting prepared for a 2 day test at the new NOLA Motorsports Park which is hosting an Indy Car event later this year. My engineer / homeboy from last year, Eric Langbein, and I are doing some development work on the chassis to hopefully make it a more competitive car for the upcoming season. The test went well, and we were able to learn some things about the car, in addition to making some positive changes which helped the balance.
I had never been to New Orleans before, so it was cool to walk around a bit after our first test day. We ended up going to a Japanese place for dinner, and on the sushi menu, they had the NOLA Indy Roll. Of course I had to get it, and yeah... it was pretty dang good. It's awesome to see places like that get behind motorsports and promote the event.
Last Thursday, I had a 6 Simple Machines presentation at my old middle school, St. Mary on the Hill. I hadn't been there in a couple years so it was great to go back, but at the same time a little weird for me as nothing has really changed.
I presented to over 200 kids, and it was an awesome group. Probably my favorite part of the whole thing was when I took the cover off the kart, and asked "Who wants a kart now?". Pretty much every single person raised their hand which is what it's all about.
The next day, I drove down to Daytona, Florida for a 24 hour kart race in the infield of the Speedway. We had a practice and qualifying session on Friday, and then the race start on Saturday and end on Sunday.
We qualified P11, which wasn't too bad considering how tight the field was. It's a long race which gave us plenty of time to move up. I would start off the race, and in my first stint, I made my way up to 4th before pitting. Throughout the race, we slowly slipped back due to a penalty, and some other issues we had. For me personally, I had so much fun both getting to carve up traffic and driving 6.5 hours in a 24 hour time frame. I ended up getting about 2 hours of sleep throughout the event so I was a bit zombified when I was out of the kart, but once I got into the zone I was fine. We finished where we started - 11th - and we were all a little bit disappointed we didn't finish better, but it was a lot of fun.
Our next event is the F2000 Winter Exhibition race at Palm Beach International Raceway in the Radon. We will see how it goes and then go from there!
December 11, 2014
It's been a few busy months after the conclusion of the F2000 Series at Watkins Glen. We are preparing for next year and hoping to possibly move up a class.
Anyway, we kicked off the last month with a 6 Simple Machines at the Briarwood Academy in Warrenton, Georgia.
Shortly after, I hopped back in an F2000 car for a test in a Radon chassis. The founder / owner of Radon Sport wants Eric and me to work on developing the car into a race winning package. The test went very well, and both Eric and I were pleased with the car and its pace.
My next trek was to Sebring for the Historic Sportscar Racing event this past weekend. I didn't know I was getting a ride until Thursday afternoon which was the test day. This being my second time ever in a sedan and my first time racing one, I focused on adapting to the car and how to work through traffic. The really cool thing about the car I was driving was that it was a Porsche Cayman S with the same livery that my dad ran when he drove the Porsche 962 GTP car.
I managed to get two solid practice sessions in the car before we would have the first enduro of the weekend on Saturday - a 1 hour event. My teammate had a good start and stayed out of trouble and handed the car over to me 30 minutes into the race during a green flag pitstop. I must say, not having a lap to warm up is quite different especially having Prototypes and old Trans Am cars flying by you! It took a couple laps for me to get into a rhythm, but once I did, I started clicking off my fastest times of the weekend which ended up only being a tenth off the fastest race lap in class. I kept pushing and pushing towards the middle of my stint which lead me to start over driving the car and my lap times suffered as a result. Towards the end of the race, I focused on just hitting my marks and not wringing every last drop out of the car and I was immediately back on pace. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned over the weekend: you have to pace yourself during a prolonged stint.
For the 4 hour race, we were starting in the middle of the 23 car field. My teammate once again did a great job of bringing the car into the pits in once piece for the driver change. At the time of the change, we were sitting in 14th place overall. I got in the car and started working my way back towards the front of the field. Traffic wasn't too crazy but there was a Mazda Prototype that you could hear coming up behind you. And when he was next to you, you couldn't even hear your own engine. The good thing was that he was so quick he wasn't around you for very long! Anyway, throughout my first stint, I was very consistent and had good pace, even though I wasn't pushing very hard. After an hour and 15 minutes or so, I brought the car into the pits leading in class and P4 overall. My co-driver Joe Sullivan hopped back in. After a couple laps, he communicated to the crew he was getting a very bad vibration in the rear end of the car. So we called him in, and inspected all the suspension components to make sure nothing was wrong. Things looked good and he was on his way. After another lap, he came back into the pits with the same vibration. This time we inspected the front end and found nothing wrong. By this time, we had lost several laps from time in the pits and had fallen back to 14th or so. We sent Joe back out to see if he could feel anything wrong. He still felt a vibration and came in to have the car looked at. During this pitstop, we made the call to change tires and do a driver change as I would finish the last hour and 15 minutes. Once, I got back in, I did one lap to feel out the car. Everything seemed to be alright so I pushed as hard as could as we had lost a lot of time trying to diagnose the problem. Ultimately, we believe that the vibration problem was caused by one of the tires. I ended up turning the fastest lap of the weekend of the Caymans. This stint was definitely the highlight of my weekend as I ran down Pro driver Shane Lewis who was competing in our sister car and passed him. Unfortunately, we had lost so much time in the pits, it had no real consequences in the finishing order.
When all things were said, we climbed our way back to 6th overall and 2nd class. It was a lot of fun and I can't thank Joe for giving me the opportunity and Racelink for all their hard work.
In other news, I am excited to be testing an IMSA Prototype Lites car this Thursday and Friday with Extreme Speed Motorsports who is one of the top P2 teams in the world. The Lites car is a development series and offers a transition from a car like the F2000 I drove this year to a car like the P2 car that ESM races. This will be a totally new experience for me, and these cars are very, very fast. From what I've heard, the Lites cars are only 6 miles per hour slower than the P1 Audi's through Turn 1 at Sebring where I'll be testing. It should be a steep learning curve, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge!
September 2, 2014
Step 1: Sweat - Step 2: Champagne - Step 3: Repeat
Thompson was nothing short of spectacular for us. We had a great weekend to say the least.
We had practice on Thursday and Friday, both of which went well. The track was somewhat challenging to learn as there is almost no run off room and all the turns are tight and tricky with camber transitions in almost every one. After learning the track, we focused on getting a good set up on the car to ensure that we had a good balance over the course of a race and didn't wear out the tires.
We had our first qualifying session Saturday morning. I went out and set the fastest lap, but quick time was reset after I came in for adjustments. I wasn't too worried though as I knew there were things I needed to work on driving wise that would help our lap time. I went back out again and on my last lap, I set quickest time. Eric my engineer and Aaron my mechanic were pretty ecstatic not only because we were the quickest, but also because we got bonus points towards the championship.
The start of Race 1 was pretty hectic as the outside pole sitter, Sam Beasley, got a good start and passed me. However, I tried to out brake him on the outside and I almost pulled it off… but it didn't quite stick and I had to fall in behind him. Meanwhile, in the middle of the pack, a big crash happened which brought out a full course yellow before we finished the first lap. When we went back to green, there was twenty-two minutes remaining which was plenty of time to get around Sam. After several laps of stalking him, I out braked him going into turn 1 for the lead. I didn't look back as I stretched a gap which I maintained for my second win of the year. To top it off, we had quickest race lap as well.
Sunday was more of the same. We held for much of the session before I came into to make an adjustment. At that point pole was reset by Sam, but I came back to grab pole again with a couple minutes remaining which again meant more bonus points.
I learned from Saturday what I needed to do at the start, and I was able to have a much better start. I maintained the lead despite going three wide into the first turn. Sam fell in right behind me, but I gradually eased a gap to him before I had some traffic to work through. I managed to get through cleanly, before grabbing my second win of the weekend and setting fastest race lap again.
This weekend was definitely one to remember. Eric, Aaron, and I all worked together and focused on finding a good set up that would not torch the tires which payed off big time during the duration of the race. They did an awesome job, and I just had to make sure I drove clean consistent laps.
There was a lot pressure going into this weekend after having won the first race of the season. I think our expectations were much higher after that, so not getting the results we wanted through the middle of the season was tough. It was also difficult because I came so close to winning at VIR, and had that slip through our hands. HonestIy, I was pretty nervous going into the first race, but after getting the job done, I was much more relaxed on Sunday.
We made up monster ground in the championship as I closed in from 43 points to 4 points on Tim after dropping our worst two finishes. It should be an intense weekend at the series finale at Watkins Glen, but we just need to keep relaxed, stay focused, and do our thing!
August 26, 2014
After a short three week break, we will be back on track at the historic Thompson Speedway in Connecticut this weekend for races 11 and 12 of the 14 race series. Our last outing at Pittsburgh went very well, as we came away with two 2nds, a pole in the wet and a lap record. I was able to close the gap to the points leader which is critical with just a few races remaining. We still have a little bit of work to do to get the car better, but we are riding on some good momentum.
Very few people have been to Thompson before as the original road course (paved in the 30's) hasn't been used in quite sometime. They just repaved it this summer though, so we should be on a nice surface with some good facilities too.
We will be pushing hard for wins this weekend! If we do our best, the points and wins will take care of themselves.
For updates throughout the weekend follow me on Twitter @SRMotorsports6 and on Facebook at Skylar Robinson Motorsports. You can also watch live timing at http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/f2live/. An event schedule is here which will list F2000 run times http://f1600series.com/pdfs/2014thompsonprelim.pdf.
August 6, 2014
Back on Track in the Steel City
After a month long break since Mid Ohio, I was anxious to get back in the car at Pittsburgh and make up some ground on the points leader. We did just that, and had some fun on the rental karts while doing it!
Friday practice had an unusual format compared to what we are used to. Typically, we have 2 30 minute sessions, but instead, we had 3 25 minute session. I preferred this, especially since it was a new track and it gave me more time to think about what to improve. It also allowed us to try more set up changes on the car as well. We had top 5 pace all day, and since Pittsburgh is such a short track (1.6 miles long) the field was very close time wise.
Saturday morning was really foggy, but thankfully, it burned off before our first qualifying session. Qualifying was pretty intense. We went out and immediately went P1. Eric, my engineer, then called me into the pits so we wouldn't use up our tires. I sat in our pit box for about 20 minutes out of the 30 minute session until someone I used to kart against, Sam Beasley, went P1 just beating me by a tenth. We went back out and tried to improve our time, but the tires were past their prime. For the race, we made a couple of small adjustments. I knew the start was going to be very important as it is somewhat difficult to pass on the track. I got a good start, but it wasn't quite good enough to take the lead from Sam. Once everything seemed to settle down, he gradually eased away from me even though I set the fastest lap of the race. He seemed to have a bit more straight line speed while I could catch him through the turns. With about 7 laps to go, a gentile mist came down dampening the track. I started to reel him in, but there wasn't enough time left to make a move and I finished 2nd.
We woke up to rain on Sunday which meant a wet qualifying session for us. I was a little apprehensive of the slippery conditions as I have had very little experience in wet conditions an F2000. However, I pushed that out of my head for the session and put the car P1 on the 4th lap. Once again, I came into the pits early and I hung out in my pit box while Aaron, Eric and I bit our nails for 20 minutes as we watched live timing. With about 2 minutes to go in the session, we knew we had the pole locked up as nobody was going any faster. It was great feeling to get my second pole of the year, especially in the wet. By the time the race had rolled around, the track had dried off and we were back on slick tires. For the race, we took out some of the wing we had in the first race in hopes of increasing our straight line speed. I once again focused on getting a good start, but wasn't able to get a good jump on the field and I fell to 2nd. I pushed hard to catch back up to my teammate Tim Minor (who is also the points leader), and I passed him a few laps into the race. Sam, who had passed Tim as well, started to catch me and found a way by me and gradually inched away from me. I pushed hard to keep up, but the handling of the car gradually went down hill. I tried improving the car using the adjustable front roll bar, but it didn't really seem to help, so we think we might have taken too much rear wing out. This allowed Tim to catch up and I knew I it was going to be a dog fight for 2nd. We battled hard for the last 3 laps, but I was able to come out ahead which meant I made up ground in the championship.
It was great to get back on the podium this weekend and finish ahead of Tim both races. We still have more work to do, but this was one of our best weekends to date. We got the best finishes we could and made up ground in the championship. The race is on!
August 1, 2014
Tomorrow, I hit the track for practice at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, Pennsylvania. Our last race at Mid Ohio was a solid weekend and I still emerged 3rd in the points, but we certainly would have liked better results.
This track should put everybody on an even playing field as nobody has much experience here. Additionally, it is short (only 1.5 miles long) and looks like it will be difficult to pass so qualifying will be very important.
The team and I are feeling very confident going into this race. We've made some adjustments to the setup since the last event, so we will be looking for good results!!!
Also, check this out! http://www.americandriverranking.com I just cracked the top 10 in American open wheel racing prospects!
July 3, 2014
Well, this weekend at Mid Ohio marks the half way point of the 2014 F2000 Championship, and so far this year has gone really well (1 win, 3 podiums, 2 fastest race laps, 1 pole position, and 1 qualifying lap record) with the exception of a couple hiccups. I currently sit 3rd in points with in striking distance of the leader.
I've been to Mid Ohio before but in a Skip Barber car which is much slower than the F2000. However, it's still good to have some laps around the place before practice starts tomorrow, especially because it's a very challenging track.
Besides racing on 4th of July weekend, another kind of neat feature of this weekend is that we will have twilight practice tomorrow. I think it'll be cool running in the late evening. Also, it shouldn't be a million degrees which will be nice.
Looking forward to a good weekend and head over to my Facebook fan page Skylar Robinson Motorsports for updates! Or follow me on Twitter @SRMotorsports6.
June 4, 2014
The Ups and Downs of Racing
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to compete in my first oval race in a USAC HPD Midget at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina. Caraway is a .455 mile banked, paved oval so it's a pretty quick track. It was a challenging little place as it had some big bumps and water was seeping through some of the cracks in the pavement.
Practice went well and I had top 2 pace in both sessions. Qualifying went even better and I put the car on pole for the 20 lap main. However, the top 4 were inverted so I ended up starting 4th for the main.
In the main, I had a good start to move up to third before the end of the first lap. I then had to really push hard to catch the top 2 who had stretched a gap over me in my battle for third. After about 5 laps, I had reeled in the top 2 and started to look for a way into 2nd place, but my attack was momentarily halted due to a brief caution period. We went back to green with a little over half the race left, but when you are doing 17 second laps in a three car train, the race flies by. It wasn't until two laps to go that I was able to finally make my way into 2nd and start applying pressure to the leader. On the last lap, I attempted a pass for the lead. However, I hit the inside curb which shot me into a fellow competitor then into the wall which ended my race. It was an extremely disappointing way to end a strong day. My inexperience just got the best of me!
Ready for VIR this weekend!
May 22, 2014
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Watkins Glen was a tough weekend for us. We had our fair share of ups and downs and it was especially disappointing after having such a strong weekend at Road Atlanta.
Friday practice was cut short because the track lost power due to some crazy weather that rolled through. However, I was able to get a couple laps in the second session even though they were on a wet track. This was not what I really needed to learn the track as this was my first time there.
All things considered, Saturday qualifying went really well. It was my first time on a dry Watkins Glen track and I put the car P2 which I was pretty happy with. The start of Race 1 went really well, and I was able to lead a couple laps after going back and forth with my teammate Tim. Tim got around though and stretched a little bit of gap. I was able to close up on him in the last couple laps, but I wasn't quite close enough to make a move for the lead and I finished 2nd. That was "The Good" part of the weekend.
We had high expectations for Sunday given our performance on Saturday. Unfortunately, this is where we encounter "The Bad" and "The Ugly". Qualifying ended rather prematurely as the two throttle return springs broke on my first lap out, forcing me to start 32nd for Race 2. I was hoping for a fun race fighting my way through the field, but it ended early, too. A bit of confusion at the start resulted in me making contact with the car in front of me, ending my race.
I was really disappointed with Sunday, as I didn't complete one lap the whole day. Also, you don't get many chances to start at the back of a large field and charge your way to the front very often. I think we learned some valuable lessons and I'm looking forward to VIR June 6-8!
May 8, 2014
I Love NY
Next week, I will be heading to Watkins Glen in New York for the second round of the F2000 Series. I currently sit 2nd in points, just 1 point behind the leader, so we will be looking for maximum points.
I have never been to the Glen but it looks like a fun track so I am excited to be racing there. It's very fast and flowing which I think fits my driving style. I will have to learn the track very quickly as we will have only two 30 minute practice sessions on Friday before qualifying on Saturday.
Live Timing will be available on Saturday and Sunday and possibly Friday. The following link will take you to the Live Timing page: http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/f2live/
A schedule of when I will be practicing and racing is also available here: http://f2000series.com/pdfs/2014wgiprelim.pdf. I will be in the F2000 group.
Also, if anyone is interested in coming out, let me know!
April 17, 2014
Its been a long off season- five months to be exact. The last time I was racing a car was at the Skip Barber Championship Shootout at Road Atlanta.
Going into this past weekend, which was the season opener for the 2014 F2000 Championship and my debut in a slicks and wings car, I wasn't quite sure what to expect concerning the dynamics of racing a down force dependent car.
Stepping up into an F2000 car has a variety of challenges one must overcome. First of all, the races are longer and the cars are more physical. We pull more lateral G's and also longitudinal G's as the cars accelerate and decelerate quickly. Also, from the racing aspect of things, you can't run as close to people as you can in F1600 or Skip Barber as you will lose the air off your wings and you won't have any aerodynamic grip.
We were pretty quick from the get-go, and by the end of Friday practice, I had topped the timing sheets. That was a good feeling as it gave me confidence going into our first qualifying session Saturday.
In qualifying, I turned the second quickest lap out of the 36 car field. I was pretty happy with my performance, and I realized that I had a legit shot at winning my first F2000 race. The start to Race 1 did not go as well as I would have liked. I jumped it a little bit and to avoid a penalty, I backed off and I ended up falling to 4th. However, I was able to make my way up to 3rd before a full course caution came out. After we cruised behind the pace car for lengthy period of time, only about 5 laps remained when we went back to green. I had a good restart which enabled me to be in a position to move up to 2nd by using the draft down the long back straight. The next lap, I did the same thing to take the lead. So with three laps to go, I was leading my first F2000 race. This is probably one of the hardest times to keep focused in a race car. Tim Minor, who was in second place at the time and won the championship last year, slowly started to reel me in. On the last lap, I made a slight mistake in turn 7 leading on to the long back straight and Tim was able to get by me. However, I was once again able to use the draft and out brake him going into the hard braking zone of 10a to take my first win in F2000 in my first start. The best feeling about the win though was the challenge of racing against Tim who was so dominate last year in the series and has a vast amount of experience. It was also super cool to see a ton of my fiends and family come out from the Augusta and Atlanta areas to support me. I also consider Road Atlanta as my "home" track and as the only person from Georgia to race in the series, it felt good to grab a win in my backyard.
On Sunday, I ended up 2nd in qualifying and 2nd in the race. I pressured Tim early on, and was even able to get around him to lead for a few laps, but I couldn't hold the lead and I finished 2nd.
It was a great weekend, not only from a points perspective, but also I was happy with my pace. There is still more to find in my driving at Watkins Glen, but I definitely feel confident that we will pick up right where we left off this past weekend.
Here is the link to an onboard lap around Road Atlanta. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1pz7wJ_Tgs&feature=youtu.be
Thanks to everyone who came out!
April 7, 2014
Wow, it's been a crazy week for me. Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to test a Ford Focus Midget (pictured on right) at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, North Carolina. This was my second time doing an oval test, so it is still somewhat foreign to me. The car weighs about 1150 lbs with the driver and has around 160 hp, so it is quite quick. They are a ton of fun to drive! The test didn't get started until about 2pm because of rain, but once we got going, I turned about 150 laps, with my longest run being 80 laps. People say racing doesn't take any strength, but try doing 80 laps straight pulling 2.5 G's in the turns on a 4/10 mile oval. That's like doing 160 reps on neck machine with a 25 pound weight. It's also a lot different than road racing because there are no long straights and you are always working.
Anyway, I was really happy with how the test went as I had good pace.
After school on Tuesday, I then flew up to Baltimore where my dad picked me up. The next day, we went to the race shop in Annapolis where the F2000 car is to get the pedals adjusted and a custom molded seat poured for me.
On Thursday, we headed to Summit Point in West Virginia to shake the car down and make sure everything is right before the first race this weekend. It went great and we had good speed even though it was just a shakedown. We need to adjust a couple things in regards to my seating position but everything should be set for the race.
On Saturday, I had a 6 hour charity kart race benefiting Spina Bifida. Our team started off really well and I was able to turn the fastest lap of the race. The race really got crazy when it started to rain really hard. There was so much standing water that the race had to red flagged. After the race was restarted, I was consistently a second faster than anybody on the wet track on slick tires. We ended up winning our class and finishing 8th overall.
On Wednesday, I will be heading up to Road Atlanta for the first round of the F2000 Championship. We have practice Thursday and Friday and Qualifying 1 and Race 1 on Saturday and Qualifying 2 and Race 2 on Sunday. I am super stoked for this, and I'm looking forward to going back to Road Atlanta. We will see what happens!
Also check out the F2000 Championship's website.
March 26, 2014
With Road Atlanta just a couple of weeks away (April 11-13), I would like to know who is planning to attend.
I have attached an event schedule as well. I am in the F2000 group. It also would be helpful if you cold tell me the day you plan on attending. http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/pdfs/2014_atlv2.pdf
March 21, 2014
The first round of the F2000 Series is just a couple weeks away at Road Atlanta and the car is coming along nicely. Hopefully, everyone can make it out!
There is a really cool preview on the F2000 Series in addition to the Atlantic and F1600 Series. Check it out here. http://www.racetalkradio.com.
The preview is available on the right hand side under Featured Clips. Then click on March 19th show which should be near the top of the column.
Also, the F2000 Series did a 10 Questions interview with me which is available at the following link. http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/news/920-10-questions-with-skylar-robinson.html
March 10, 2014
Opened up the Autoweek magazine the other day and look what I found! A full page picture of me was used in a Skip Barber ad! What's also really cool about being in the magazine was that the issue was sent to over 300,000 people!
We also exhibited 6 Simple Machines© at the Career Expo portion of the Gwinnett Science and Engineering Fair in Duluth, Georgia. At our booth, we had a mannequin with one of my driving suits on it, my helmet, the kart, and also a TV with onboard video playing so I think we attracted a good amount of attention. We were able to talk to teachers about scheduling the program and also explain to students the different aspects of engineering that are involved in racing.
The first round of the F2000 Championship Series is right around the corner (April 11-13)! It will be at Road Atlanta which is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from Augusta and no more than an hour from downtown Atlanta. If you are interested in going, let me know! It would be awesome to have everybody there!
February 20, 2014
The Great Escape
First off, I hope everyone is alright after some gnarly winter storms. I know Augusta was hit really hard. A tree fell on my dad's truck, the power was out for 4 days, and there was an earthquake. I was lucky enough to be in Maryland helping build the F2000 car while all this was taking place. My dad and I left on Tuesday right before the storm hit, but the drive up was certainly hairy (except I slept most of the way). Anyway, I helped build a few minor bits and pieces like rear wing supports, radiator screens, etc. Most of the major pieces of the car, such as the engine and transmission, are now at the shop. We are waiting on a couple pieces like the bell housing to arrive before final assembly begins. Another cool thing I got to see while in the race shop was my shocks being dynoed. It was interesting to see how changes affect the characteristics of a shock.
You may have noticed a different looking F2000 car from my original yellow and white car. Thought I'd try something a bit different with a bright blue on a satin black. Also thinking about neon orange on the satin black. What do you think?
January 15, 2014
Drum Roll Please… 2014 Plans Announced
In case the drawing of the car didn't give it away, I am super excited to announce the I will be competing in the 2014 F2000 Championship Series! It looks like it is going to be an awesome year, especially going to tracks like Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway, Watkins Glen, and the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course among others. The grid often gets more than 30 cars at each round, and offers a great mix of young up-and-coming drivers in addition to experienced veterans.
The car is a bit different than the Formula Fords and Skip Barber cars I raced last year. The F2000 car will be using a more powerful 2.0 liter Ford Zetec engine capable of propelling the car to speeds of 140+ mph. Additionally, we will be running a full racing slick tire which has a lot more grip than the tires used in Formula Ford and Skip Barber. This will be my first time driving a car with downforce, which adds a tremendous amount of grip in high speed turns.
I will be joining Eric Langbein Racing headed by, you guessed it, Eric Langbein! Eric has a great amount of experience engineering race cars, and it shows as he won the championship last year with my new teammate, Tim Minor. I am looking forward to a great year, and a big thanks goes out to my partners, my mom and dad, and all of you who follow me!
You can read the official release here. http://www.f2000championshipseries.com/news/902-skylar-robinson-to-race-in-2014-f2000-series.html
January 10, 2014
6 Simple Machines and More
After a "slow" couple of months, things are starting to pick up now! Today, we gave our 6 Simple Machines presentation to over 100 8th graders at the Shiloh Middle School in Snellville, Georgia. We gave four presentations to four different advanced physical science classes, so the kids were all really bright. They seemed to enjoy it, so I think we made a positive impact. Our next 6 Simple Machines presentation is next Friday at the Renfroe Middle School in Decatur, Georgia. Looking forward to it!
Tomorrow (Saturday), I have radio interview at 10 am eastern time on local station WEZO 1230 AM. Also live streaming will be available on http://tunein.com/radio/iTalkUS-1230-s30212/. Don't forget to tune in!
November 25, 2013
It's been an awesome weekend! It all started off on Friday when my dad and I gave our 6 Simple Machines© presentation to about 150 middle schoolers at Augusta Preparatory Day School. The kids seemed to really enjoy it, and there were even a couple of karters in the group! Then on Saturday, I had the opportunity to ride in an original '65 Cobra signed by Caroll Shelby himself! It was the ride of a life time! Now onto planning for next year.
November 11, 2013
This past week has been super crazy. For Monday and Tuesday, I was at one of my favorite tracks, Road Atlanta, for a Skip Barber 2 Day Advanced School. Even though this was a driving school, I was using it to prepare for the shootout next week as we had the opportunity to do a lot of lapping at speed. I then flew up to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for a 6 Simple Machines presentation my dad and I did on Thursday at the Carnegie Science Center which went well. It was a bit of a different atmosphere than we are used to. Usually, we are in a classroom, but at Carnegie we were in a super fancy presentation room with 8 different projectors and screens around the room! Also, we usually present to middle schoolers but on Thursday, we presented to high schoolers. It was cool because I met some kids who used to go to school with someone I raced against in karting! There were also a couple of others who raced dirt ovals, motocross, and SCCA Autocross. The building itself was quite impressive with multiple levels and some cool robotics. They had one exhibit where you could play air hockey against a robot and another one - foosball!
Monday will bring the start of the Skip Barber Championship Shootout in which I will be competing for a $200,000 scholarship to move into the USF2000 Series. The competition will be extremely tough so I am looking forward to it!
October 4, 2013
After a nice 8 hour flight, I was of course anxious to head off to the scenic Anglesey Circuit in Wales for the final round of the Avon Tyres Formula Ford National Championship. Going into the weekend, I was 3rd in the standings - 10 points behind the points leader.
The weekend started off really well as I paced the field the second half of Friday practice. The momentum carried over to Saturday and I qualified on pole, my second of the year. This was crucial as it gave me two extra bonus points towards the championship. After finishing second in Race 1 and Race 2, and ending up with fastest lap in both races, I was 11 points behind the leader heading into the final race of the series. I had a good jump off the line, but unfortunately, I still lost the lead. I regrouped though and squeaked by for the point a couple of laps later. I then went on to lead the rest of the race to take my fourth win of the year. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for the championship, and I came up just short by 3 points.
In the end, it is a tough pill to swallow to lose the championship by the smallest of margins. I cannot help but look back at the races where, if I had finished one position better, the results would have been different. But I am happy with how my first year of car racing went, and I am pleased with my progression. I have a couple of things to iron out so I just need to keep improving!
September 25, 2013
Championship Quest to be Continued...
I'm off to England again for the final round of the 2013 BRSCC Avon Tyres Formula Ford Championship! The race weekend format at the Anglesey Circuit will feature a qualifying session and three races. I sit third in the points, 10 points behind the leader. It will certainly be a tough task to overthrow the leader, but I am up to the challenge. Live timing will be available Saturday and Sunday at http://www.tsl-timing.com/?loc=club&season=2013&series=BRSCC&event=club&source=ed_BRSCC&eventid=133931. A time table is available next to the tab "Track Length". All times are 5 hours ahead of eastern time. Look for me in the Post 89 class!
This past week, my dad and I were in the Charleston area where we did three 6 Simple Machines presentations. The first presentation was given to a group of about 30 home schoolers. The next presentation was at St. Andrew's School of Math and Science with about 125 fifth graders. After the presentation I was literally swarmed and was signing autographs for about 10 minutes which was pretty fun! To close out the day, we did a much smaller group (15-20 kids) at an after school group. Check out the article about 6 Simple Machines here. http://www.moultrienews.com/article/20130918/MN06/130919716/0/MN&slId=1
Overall, I think everyone really enjoyed the program. Everyone seemed very attentive and excited. Looking forward to doing more!
September 18, 2013
"Luck is where opportunity meets preparation."
That was certainly the case this weekend at Mid Ohio! After being out of a Skip Barber car for six months, it was quite a weird feeling getting back into the seat for the first practice. It's definitely a big transition from a Formula Ford!
Anyway, after a decent Friday practice day, we went straight into qualifying on Saturday morning. I was a bit disappointed with where I ended up in the session (5th), but I didn't have a draft on my fast lap which makes a big difference in the Skippy cars. I didn't have a great start for Race 1 as I fell back a position, but I regained the position and was battling for 4th before a full course caution came out. With just several laps remaining in the race when we went back to green, it was imperative that I had a good start. I did, and I moved up to 3rd which enabled me to keep up with the top 2. With two laps to go, I made a move for the lead, but only moved up to 2nd. On the last lap, I had a great run going into Turn 7, and made my move for the lead. But, the 3rd place runner had an awesome double tow and drafted by me for the lead. With passing opportunities running out, I made an aggressive move going into Turn 11 before the carousel. It stuck and I hung on for the win!
In Race 2, I would start from the pole. However, the front row didn't get a great start and we fell back a bit. I battled my way back up to 5th, but with several laps to go, the leaders tangled and I was in position to take advantage of the opportunity to sweep the weekend!
Definitely a crazy weekend, but I couldn't have had a much better return to Skip Barber. Hopefully the shootout in November will go just as well! A link to the video from Race 1 follows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICIv_9ym82o.
On a side note, I did not win the Team USA Scholarship. It was an honor to be a part of the program, this being my first year in cars, so I am walking away with my head held high! A big thanks to everyone who is involved in the program and gave me this opportunity.
September 12, 2013
Looking forward to this weekend as I will be back in a Skip Barber car! I will be attending a Summer Series round at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course which looks pretty awesome. My goal is to re-familiarize myself with the car before the Championship Shootout in November. The Shootout will award the winner a Scholarship to compete in the first step of the Mazda Road to Indy, the USF 2000 Series. I'll keep you guys posted.
September 3, 2013
Tough Weekend at Oulton Park
After a great start to the week at the Team USA Scholarship Shootout, I went straight from Tampa to England. After arriving in the UK, I headed directly to Oulton Park for the next round of the BRSCC Formula Ford National Championship.
I was pretty happy with my practice pace as I ended up P1 in the last session. I also had a great start on Saturday as I was quickest in warm-up. In qualifying I wasn't able to keep it at the top of the charts and I ended up fourth, less than a tenth behind the second quickest time. In the race, I had a good start picking up a position to move to P3. I started to run down the top 2, but a safety car came out bunching the field up again. When the safety car went in, I did not have a good restart at all and I fell back to 4th. Once again, I moved up to 3rd and caught up to the leaders. With a couple of laps left, I made an aggressive move for 2nd and it paid off. I chased down the leader who is also my teammate, and made another aggressive move on the last lap in the same spot where I passed for second. Unfortunately it didn't work out and we made contact. I was able to continue to finish 7th.
I had good pace in practice, but I am pretty disappointed with my result. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have tried the move and I feel pretty bad for my teammate as well as the team. On the po, sitive side of things, I have learned some valuable lessons.
August 26, 2013
Super Busy Week
This upcoming week will be keeping me extremely busy. I will be heading down to Andersen RacePark in Florida for the Team USA Scholarship Finals! Super excited for this! Then I catch a flight from Tampa to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Amsterdam, and onto Birmingham, UK where I will be picked up by my "family' at Cliff Dempsey Racing! From Birmingham, we will head to Oulton Park for the next round of the BRSCC Formula Ford National Championship. The race weekend will feature all day practice on Friday, then a warm-up, qualifying, and a race on Saturday. I currently sit 3rd in points counting drops- just 10 points out of first. Coming off the Triple Crown Championship, we are looking to keep up the results! Certainly my busiest week to date, looking forward to it! Official Team USA Scholarship press release follows. http://teamusascholarship.org/?p=2241
August 8, 2013
Triple Crown Champion!!!
This past weekend my team and I headed to the historic Brands Hatch circuit for my final race while living in England. Going into the weekend, I was the points leader in the Triple Crown - a sub-series within the National Championship that is comprised of Silverstone, Donington Park, and Brands.
Friday was absolutely crazy as there was an epic downpour before the first practice session. There were rivers flowing across the track!!! Thankfully it dried out and we were one of the quickest.
Qualifying on Saturday couldn't have gone much better as I put the car P1 for Race 1! This was my first pole position in cars. I didn't have a good jump off the line and my teammate was able to grab the hole shot. He pulled a little gap, but then I began to run him down. On the last lap, I was within striking distance and I made my move going into Paddock Hill. We almost touched, but I came out leading. I then managed to hang onto the lead for the remainder of the race for my third win in a row (two at Donington last month)! Unfortunately, Race 2 didn't go quite as well. Once again, I had trouble off the line and my teammate jumped to an early lead. For the remainder of the race, I pushed as hard as I could to catch him, but I made a couple of mistakes which enabled him to stretch more of a gap and allowed third place to reel me in. On the last lap, the third place runner made his move to the outside of Paddock Hill and we then went side by side for the next three turns until he wrestled the spot from me. I would end up 3rd. Check out the last couple of laps from the first race at the following link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7K8jP-MjDw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUtPeU_OjyIi9Qw9tzFM5qjw
I am really happy with the weekend as I was able to come away with the Triple Crown Championship! Also, I am pleased with my improvements over the course of the summer. Thanks to the team (Cliff Dempsey Racing) for all their hard work, all my fans and supporters, and lastly "mum" and dad! Looking forward to the next one!
August 6, 2013
Robinson Continues Winning Streak at Brands Hatch
American Skylar Robinson competed this past weekend at Brands Hatch for the final round of the BRSCC Triple Crown Championship as well as a BRSCC Formula Ford National Championship round. Coming into the weekend, Robinson was leading the Triple Crown standings and sitting 4th in the National Championship.
The weekend was started off with a Friday practice day. Conditions ranged from monsoon-like to bone dry, but Skylar showed great pace throughout the swaying conditions.
Saturday would host qualifying, Race 1 and Race 2.
Qualifying went well for Skylar as he would put the car on pole by just under a tenth.
The start to Race 1 proved challenging for Robinson as he would not get a good jump off the line and would fall back to second. Throughout the race, Skylar worked feverishly for a way to pass leader. On the last lap, his chance came and he made an aggressive move down the inside going into Paddock Hill. He made it stick and drove a defensive remainder of the lap to take the win for his third consecutive win.
Race 2 was even more challenging. After another poor jump off the line, the young American would once again set his sights on running down the leader. Unfortunately, a couple of mistakes would hinder his progress and drop him back to third where he finished.
Fortunately it was enough to seal the deal on the Triple Crown Championship and lift him up to third in the National Championship.
"I am really happy with my Race 1 result, but I am a little disappointed with Race 2. I made a couple of mistakes which cost me a shot at the win. Big thanks to the team, Cliff Dempsey Racing for all their hard work this weekend. Finally a shout out to all my supporters!"
You can keep up with Skylar on Facebook at Skylar Robinson Motorsports and on Twitter @SRMotorsports6.
July 29, 2013
Brands Hatch, Here I Come
I'm super excited to announce that I have been chosen as a Team USA Scholarship nominee!!! The Team USA Scholarship is put on by Jeremy Shaw and is a great opportunity for young drivers. The scholarship awards two drivers who are sent to England to race in two of the biggest Formula Ford events in the world, the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy. This upcoming Friday, I will have a video chat interview with a panel judges including Bryan Herta (IndyCar team owner), Mike Hull (Managing Director at Chip Ganassi Racing), Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden (IndyCar drivers and former Team USA Scholarship winners).
Here is a link to the Scholarship website. http://teamusascholarship.org
Also coming up this weekend is my final race in England for the Summer. I will be at Brands Hatch for another National Championship round. I'm currently fourth in the championship and leading the Triple Crown which is basically a championship with in a championship. It includes the races at Silverstone, Donington Park, and Brands. After a great weekend at Donington, I'm hoping for more of the same!
July 17, 2013
Did the Double at Donington!!!
Had an incredible weekend at Donington Park for the BRSCC National Championship round! We had pretty good speed on the practice day but there were a couple of little things I needed to fix for the races on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, I had a warm-up session where I was quickest. Then, after a qualifying session, I would start the race P4. I didn't have the best of starts and I fell back to 5th, but by the fifth lap, I was up to P1. After me and two others broke away from the rest of the pack, I fell back to 2nd with a couple of laps to go. But luckily for me, the third place runner had a brake problem and took out the leader who was also my teammate. I scooted by for the lead and went on to win my first Formula Ford race in the UK.
For Race 2, I would start P1. I would end up having to defend for most of the race, but I would hold on from heavy pressure for my second race win of the weekend!
It was nothing less than an incredible weekend. Two races and two wins! Big thanks to my team and sponsors, and especially everyone who has supported me through the good and the bad!
July 10, 2013
Donington Park this weekend!
Super excited to get back to Donington Park this weekend for a National round! I had a good test there a couple weeks ago and it will be the first time I won't have to learn a new track during a National weekend. Looking to learn a lot and we will see where I end up!
July 5, 2013
First Formula Ford win still elusive
This past weekend, my team and I went to Oulton Park for a Northern Formula Ford Championship round. I was really excited to come back here because my first Formula Ford race was here so it was a good opportunity to measu, re how much I have improved.
On Friday we had a lot of track time which was nice. I was really quick in the rain, but I was struggling a bit in the dry. Thankfully, I picked up the pace on Saturday in the dry. I qualified 3rd about a tenth off pole. The first race was an "invitational" race for my class, the Post 89 class. This means we would start at the back of the the Pre 90 class after a 30 second gap. I got a great jump off the line and was up to 1st by Turn 1. The top three broke away from the rest of the Post 89 grid and we began to catch a lot of traffic. I didn't have quite the raw speed that the other two in the top 3 had, but I was able to work through traffic and get a gap. During the closing stages of the race I was caught and passed which moved me to 2nd, where I ended up. For the second race, I would once again start 3rd. I had another good start to move up to 2nd. The second race was similar to the first race, just without all the traffic and the fact I ended up 3rd.
I am a little bit disappointed with my results. The good thing though is that I did improve. My next race is July 11-14 at Donington Park. I am really looking forward to going back there!
June 27, 2013
Due to a lack of entries at the Mallory Park race scheduled for last Sunday, I didn't attend. Instead, I will be racing at Oulton Park this weekend, a Northern Championship round. You can follow me live in the Post 89 class on Saturday at http://www.tsl-timing.com/?loc=club&season=2013&series=BRSCC&event=club&source=ed_BRSCC&eventid=132631. Morning warm-up starts at 9:00 GMT, qualifying at 11:45, Race 1 at 14:45, and Race 2 at 16:30. My first race in Formula Ford was here, so I am looking forward to going back and seeing how much I improved!
June 13, 2013
My first visit to the Silverstone Circuit was fun, but quite frustrating. For the third round of the Formula Ford National Championship, we would use the National configuration. The weekend didn't start off very well as I had an engine blow up the first session. However, the team did a great job to put a new engine in and not lose too much track time as I only missed one session. Saturday was a day off as we wouldn't be scheduled to qualify and race until Sunday
On Sunday, we started off with a 15 minute qualifying session. I didn't have a great session and qualified P7 for Race 1. The start of the race went well and picked up a few spots. I then drove up to 4th where I finished the race. For the second race, I would have to start 9th as grid positions were set by each competitors second quickest qualifying time. It would be safe to say that I took the "Balls to the wall" approach and I drove my way up to 3rd by the third lap. Unfortunately, I got a little bit to ambitious trying to make a move for 2nd, which resulted in contact. I continued after dropping back to last and losing massive amounts of time, but with a bent track rod. With the remaining laps, I made my way up to 10th.
I was a bit disappointed with my results. I had some good pace, especially in Race 2, but I made a costly mistake that hurt my chances at a strong finish. My next race is June 23 at the historic Mallory Park. I'll keep you posted!
June 7, 2013
Just arrived here in Silverstone for the second round of the BRSCC Avon Tyres Formula Ford National Championship! I will be staying on an RAF base near the track with my teammate and his family, so it should be fun! I'll post updates about testing tomorrow and the qualifying session and both race on Sunday on my Facebook fan page, Skylar Robinson Motorsports. Also, updates will be posted on Twitter and you can follow me @SRMotorsports6. Looking forward to keeping you updated!
May 17, 2013
After a busy week of testing, simulating, and yes, even studying, the team and I made our way to the Anglesey Circuit in Wales for the second round of the BRSCC Avon Tyres Formula Ford National Championship.
The race weekend at the coastal circuit commenced on Friday with four 20 minute practice sessions. All went well and I was one of the top 5 fastest headed into qualifying on Saturday. Qualifying was tricky as it was in damp conditions. However, I ended up 5th. By the time the first race rolled around, it was dry. I had a good start, and even though I didn't gain any positions, I didn't lose any either. I was able to position myself and make up a couple of spots with in the first couple of laps to move up to 3rd, where I finished. Once again, I would have to start in 5th for Race 2 as the grid was set by your second fastest qualifying lap. Before the race was underway, the track was hit with a large amount of rain, essential guaranteeing that we would be racing in the wet. I had a good start off the line and I jumped up to 4th. Several laps later, I made a move for 3rd and started to run down the two leaders. Luckily, 2nd place made a mistake and went off track moving me into 2nd. However, several laps later, 3rd place got by me and I fell back to 3rd. With several laps to go the top 2 started to battle, enabling me to join the battle for the win on the last lap. I was able to slip by 2nd with two wheels in the wet grass going into the tightest turn on the track. However, he was able to get under me going into the next turn. I then pulled a cross over move and secured 2nd spot. With a slight gap to 1st, I started to try and run down the leader, but I ran out of time and ended up P2.
Overall, I had a much better weekend than the first round at Oulton Park. I felt much more comfortable in the car and I can't wait until the next round at the famed Silverstone Circuit!
May 8, 2013
I will be heading back to the UK for the second round of the BRSCC Avon Tyres Formula Ford National Championship this week. I am super excited and can't wait to "redeem" myself after the last outing at Oulton Park. Before the race weekend commences, I will be doing a half day test at Mallory Park to work on my shifting. Additionally, I will have some more time on the F3 simulator to learn the Anglesey Circuit. The track looks incredible as it is right on the Welsh coast over looking the water. Check out the picture below!
April 17, 2013
As soon as the Skip Barber weekend ended, we were off to England for the first round of the BRSCC Avon Tyres Formula Ford Championship. Since we arrived several days before the race weekend started, we took the time to prepare for the weekend.
On Tuesday, the team and I made a custom fitted seat for the car. This involves an expanding foam mixture which forms to your body so you don't move around in the car.
Wednesday was my first day on track in the Formula Ford. The day went well besides a couple of problems we had with the engine misfiring.
Thursday started off with a trip to the West-Tec F3 simulator. The sim involved a carbon fiber F3 tub (in other words, the cockpit), steering wheel, pedals, gear shift lever, and 3 monitors. It was a great way to get some time at the Oulton Park circuit, one of the most challenging in the UK. It was a ton of fun for sure, and it was super cool how you could collect data form the sim and analyze it the way you would at the track. After that, we swung by an English McDonald's before we headed to Oulton. The rumors are true, their Medium drinks are smaller than our Small drinks!
Friday was my first full day in the car. It started off wet, but dried out as the day went on. I made progress throughout the day which I was pleased with, but I was having trouble getting used to the H-pattern gear box. The Skip Barber cars have a sequential, which means the gear shift lever just goes straight forward and backward.
Saturday was race day with qualifying and two races. I had a solid qualifying effort putting the car P5 for my first Formula Ford race, At the start of the first race, I fell back a bit as I didn't have a good jump off the line as it was my first standing start. I fell back to 6th or 7th, but I drove my way back up to the battle for 3rd. After making my way up to 3rd on the last lap, I messed up a down shift and spun. I was able to continue, but I fell back to 7th were I finished. Race 2 didn't go any better. After a much better start, I started to move my way up. Continuing to get faster and faster every lap, I feel that I had a good shot at the podium. Once I got up to 5th, I made a slight mistake which had a big consequence. I turned up a little bit to early for a turn and the tire barrier at the apex took the right front corner off the car. That pretty much ended my race.
Overall, my trip to England was definitely a success. There are a couple of things I need to work on, especially shifting. But, it was great to work with the team (Cliff Dempsey Racing) and my teammate. I had a great time and I can't wait to go back!
Check out a lap of Oulton! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IC8TOl-3jg&list=UUtPeU_OjyIi9Qw9tzFM5qjw&index=1
April, 9, 2013
I traveled to the Sebring International Raceway for the final round of the Skip Barber Winter Series this past weekend. After two rainy practice days, I was ready for some dry racing on Saturday.
I qualified 5th for Race 1. At the start of Race 1, I was able to avoid contact between the 3rd and 1st place drivers and move up to 3rd. But, going into the next turn, I was a bit too cautious trying to avoid a penalty for contact and I was pushed out wide moving me back to 8th. I then made my way back to 3rd within the next few laps. For the remainder of the race, I battle with two others for 3rd and barely missed out on the podium, finishing in 4th. I was able to hold my 4th place starting position for Race 2. Several laps later, the top 3 started to pull away and I ended up battling with 5th. On the last lap, he was able to get around me with help from the massive draft that develops on the long back straight. I finished Race 2 in 5th, but a penalty assigned to the 2nd place finisher moved me up to 4th.
I think I could have been more aggressive on the starts, but I ended up 3rd in the championship with Rookie of the Year and also an entry into the Champions Shootout in which you compete for a USF2000 ride.
Right now, I'm in England and today I was fitted for my seat. Tomorrow, I hit the track for my first time in a Formula Ford, and this weekend will be my first Formula Ford race!