SEASON TO REMEMBER
This was definitely a year to remember. It was almost dizzying. We flew 110,732 miles. Went to Europe eight times. Tallied 4,480 rental car miles and 5,412 driving miles in five different cars: IMSA Lites, LMPC, Zytek P2, Lamobrghini Gallardo and Bentley Continental GT3. And broke two Le Mans records!
I met countless executives, legends, fans and drivers. I was in and out of an alphabet soup of airports: WPB, CLT, PHX, TPA, LHR, RDU, WIE, MAD, MIA, CTT, MRS, YYZ, MKE, PHL, DFW, ORD, ELM, CDG, BLQ, AMS, MCI, ATL and LIS where I ended the ELMS season at Estoril with a seventh place alongside James Fletcher, 20, and Migual Fiasca, 25, and what may have been the youngest ELMS driver lineup ever.
Not surprisingly, I’m getting gold card offers in the mail now! I don’t think they realize I’m 16 years old. Maybe I should sign up and see what happens? Seriously, one of the great things about packing in all this work, and the work from the prior two years in cars is that I’m gaining a lot of experience that I hope pays off in the years ahead. So far I have 83 car races with a 21% podium rate.
Honestly, though, having this past week and the next few weeks to myself feels really good. Even though I’m an expert at packing luggage, it’s time to set that skill aside momentarily and take a short breather. On the flight home from Lisbon, my dad asked me a bunch of questions about the 2014 season, and here’s how I answered:
Most memorable moment? This is a hard one. So many good memories. Like the last lap at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with all the confetti and waving flags. The unbelievable 24 Hours of Le Mans driver’s parade and all its crazy fans. Winning at Road Atlanta in Lites last month. Those are my favorite memories.
Most frightening moment?
This isn’t a hard one. Getting pushed off the road in the middle of the night at about 170 mph at Le Mans on the back straight. Nothing bad happened but it got my attention.
Best piece of advice?
From my dad about not passing on the outside of the kinks leading to Indianapolis unless you’re absolutely sure you’re past the other car and he sees you. See “most frightening moment” above!
Favorite place visited?
The beautiful waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park. Take time to go there.
The Le Mans parade. I had heard about it but had no idea how fun it would be. It was total madness! People and laughter everywhere. My parents said they’ve never seen me so happy.
Aspect of your driving you most improved?
My out lap and cold tire pace. In Lites we were fast straight away by the end of the season. Over in ELMS you start with heated, warmed tires, so it’s not as difficult, though I learned to be careful on cold brakes.
Racing the P2 car at night at Le Mans. I expected it to be more of a challenge than fun, but it turned out the other way around. I also got the sunrise happy hour stint, when the cars are at their best.
Favorite car driven?
This is a dangerous question. I liked everything I drove!
Coolest thing you touched, saw, smelled or heard?
More clean races. I really think I had a chance to contend for the Lites championship, but four mechanical DNFs and four accidents took me out. Next year’s motto: fast + clean = championship.
Thing or moment that pissed you off the most?
Getting taken out by others in multiple Lites races (see all four accidents above) and the engine dying at Mosport while I was leading with nine minutes left in the race. Man that’s irritating! I don’t want to think about it.