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HARRISON: It is What It Is

Honda Performance Development Junior Factory driver Ashton Harrison files her latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Halston Pitman/Racers Edge

My dad has always said, “It is what it is.” I’ve heard that phrase all my life, to the point I chose it as my high school senior quote.

One interpretation of ‘it is what it is’ embodies the idea that the situation at hand won’t change, so to passively accept the outcome without trying to change the course of events.

But my dad’s interpretation, and the mindset I’ve adopted, takes action. He focuses on the elements he can control, and finds a way to create the best solution he possibly can.

My dad has branded that mantra into Harrison Contracting Company for over 25 years. HCC is well known for always following through on our promises with stellar workmanship and customer service.

We always do what we say we’re going to do, even when things don’t go our way or when encountering difficult challenges. Our customers can depend on us for creating a positive outcome, no matter how long or to what extent we might need to do so.

Our inaugural Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS weekend at Sonoma Raceway poked and pried at the core of that mantra from day one.

Neither Mario or I had driven Sonoma before, so we needed to learn the track, but had to do so in the rain. That rain fell most of test day, and knowing we would most likely have mixed weather conditions for the weekend (we eventually had rain during qualifying, but dry conditions in both races), the team immediately needed to adjust our run plans.

Racers aren’t strangers to weather conditions, so we just rolled with the changes and took each session as it came.

But then, during one of my stints during practice, we encountered a crazy electrical gremlin — and gremlin really is the only suitable word in this case — that threw a wrench into our plans once again. 

Photo: Racers Edge Motorsports

The crew didn’t miss a beat and had the No. 93 Harrison Contracting Company Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 ready for qualifying Saturday morning. The Acuras were really competitive with the other manufacturers in the series all weekend, and Mario earned us the Pro-Am pole for Race 2 in his qualifying session.

Mario and I last worked together in Indy, eight or nine months ago, but we still had a coach-student mentality at the time.

The HPD Driver Academy gave us the opportunity to develop that camaraderie, and having a solid basis for our current relationship as teammates. Add that to the championship-winning foundation and top-notch preparation from Racers Edge Motorsports, and I really think we will be competitive for the Pro-Am class championship this season.

The NSX was rolling to pre-grid for Race 1 when we were hit with yet another challenge, sending us to the back of the field, starting P20 after qualifying P11.

I had my helmet on, preparing to take the green, when the circumstances in which I had planned to compete completely changed at the drop of a hat. At that point, we had only one option: to go forward.

Sitting behind the wheel in pit lane dwelling on the situation wasn’t worth the energy or distraction from the next 90 minutes of racing. I couldn’t change our grid position, and neither could the crew.

Then several minutes into my stint, we were required to serve a drive-through penalty that cost us several of the positions I’d made up in the field at the start of the race. At this point I’ve said to myself ‘it is what it is’ about four different times and we were only 3 laps into the first race.

Photo: Racers Edge Motorsports

As a team, we had to focus forward, with a positive mindset, and do the only thing we could do: our jobs, to the best of our abilities.

Cliché or not, the statement “the race isn’t over until the checkered flag flies” is completely true. I laid down some solid lap times chasing my competitors and gained back those precious seconds we’d lost from issues completely out of our control.

The crew nailed the pit stop, “Super Mario” earned his nickname behind the wheel, and that competitiveness and determination combined with our mindset earned us a P6 class finish and top finishing Acura.

When all you can do is control the controllable, making a choice to stay positive and executing successfully becomes a victory in itself.

We held our original grid position in Race 2, and Mario had an amazing start with a gap to the next car in class. But with multi-class racing, even cars with whom we aren’t directly competing can cause mayhem.

Our Acura lost several positions after an unplanned off-track excursion, and we found ourselves in a similar situation to Race 1, affected by actions out of our control.

After a second phenomenal pitstop, I once again had some chasing to do, this time for the win.

Finishing P2 in class, half second from first. I’m so proud of our P2 class finish in our first event with Mario and I as co-drivers, and with Racers Edge as a team. The entire team is so competitive and we all want that taste of victory champagne even more.

So now we head to NOLA with the same mindset- that whatever “it” may be, we can tackle the challenges head on, and climb to the top step of that podium.

Ashton Harrison is a HPD Junior Factory Driver competing with Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Andretti in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. .

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