As someone who grew up in the early 2000s, a PlayStation 2 was always plugged into our TV. I usually was playing F1 2001 or Gran Turismo 3. It was a way to get my racing fix while waiting for the next go-kart race.
Over the years, the games have developed into full-blown simulators that can replicate lap times to within a second. This has turned virtual driving into a tool to learn tracks, and I’ve never appreciated it as much as I did last week at Circuit of The Americas.
I had never been to COTA before, but the two practice sessions looked to be more than enough to get a good idea on how to go fast. But in short, my car suffered an electrical issue that took me out of the first practice session and all but 10 minutes of the second. I had managed four laps of the track before qualifying. My iRacing subscription was about to pay in dividends!
The team really buckled down to find and fix that issue, and our engineer almost effortlessly threw a setup on the car that was damn near perfect. This is 100 percent a team sport!
The hours of sim driving paid off as I managed to qualify second for both races, missing a pole by three-hundredths of a second. Many athletes say that preparation is more than half the battle, and I can agree with that!
The first race of the weekend was downright scary inside of the car. Contact left me with a punctured radiator with 30 minutes remaining. Until the finish, alarms and warnings were flashing inside of the car.
It felt like a fighter pilot with missile lock on his plane. I do not wish to feel that again anytime soon.
Somehow, in the heat of a Texas day Thursday, Sept. 17, the radiator held enough water, and the Porsche 3.8-liter flat-six made it through the event with a second-place finish. Thank you, Porsche, for building such a tough car!
The second race of the weekend would be much less stressful and a little cooler under the lights Friday, Sept. 18. For the race, I put pressure on Jesse Lazare and tried to force him into a mistake.
Knowing the points situation, the first goal was to finish on the podium, but I’ll push and see if the opportunity rises to take the win. Jesse and Angel Benitez Jr. held strong, and I took home third, another good race between the three of us and another race where I can say “mission accomplished.”
Last week at COTA was more than a normal race event, though. It was my first WEC event. Outside the cockpit, I am a massive endurance racing fan and a total student of the sport. With the right passes, I was able to spend almost the entire weekend inside of the WEC hot pits. I had a permanent smile on my face!
Thanks to some good timing and old friends, I was able to be a part of a private tour of the Porsche 919 pit only 30 minutes before the race. The car is truly a spaceship and a remarkable piece of engineering, and to see it naked without bodywork was quite a highlight of the weekend!
Whether I was in the Dempsey Racing pit box or on the top of the tower, I was closely following the whole six-hour race. Seeing the top racing series in the world from such an insider view only makes me hungrier to someday become a part of it!
As soon as I was back home from Austin, I started the prep for the final two races of the series. It is quite a frantic time as our season finale is this weekend, Sept. 25-27 during Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca! I have been counting down the days until this weekend for a very long time, and not because I am racing in it, but because it is Rennsport!
Rennsport is the largest Porsche festival in the world, to describe it in short. Think of Porsche emptying their museum, shipping the contents to Monterey and letting them loose all at once. It is my dream weekend, filled with my childhood heroes and the cars they drove.
I may be a student of endurance racing, but I’m even more a student of the brand. To me, Porsches are the ultimate vehicle both on the street and on the track. The 917 (especially chassis 917-042 in 1970 Le Mans spec) is the greatest vehicle ever made. Shoot, I was born on Sept. 17 (9/17); it must be fate to love this brand!
I’m a little sad to be racing at Rennsport, as it means less time to drool and learn. But competing at Rennsport will make it an even more special event, as two finishes will lead to the season-long goal being accomplished.
No matter what happens, this coming weekend will be one of the most special and memorable in my life.