Different Opportuntities

May 1st, 2019- Lexington, OH- It’s been a crazy start to the racing season for us and as we approach the greatest month of racing, I thought it would be a great time to recap the start of the season. As many of you know, we are pursuing a full championship in the F3 Americas powered by Honda  with Global Racing Group this year. The opportunity to race in F3 was provided to us through a scholarship valued at nearly $230,000 for winning the F4 United States Championship powered by Honda.

 

Prior to the first event of the year, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple days in the car with Ligier Automotive and felt really comfortable transitioning into the higher aero, higher power car. The turbocharged Honda Engine put out nearly double the power of the F4 engine and the Ligier chassis has an incredible amount of grip supported by the new Hankook tires relative to last years Pirelli tires. The week leading up to the first event was spent with the team where I got acquainted with my once fiersest rivals. They made me feel at home quickly and we worked well with each other right out of the gate.

 

Dickerson after winning Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park

Dickerson after winning Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park

The first event of the year saw us racing during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama during the INDYCAR event. It always an exciting time during the season opener, but to have it coupled with INDYCAR made it even more special. Out of the gate the whole team showed great pace. I believe all 4 of our cars were in the top 5. Come qualifying, a mix of red flags hindered our quick laps which meant we started 3rd in the 1st race with my teammate, Ben Pedersen, on the pole. I got a good enough start to get up to 2nd place, albeit spinning the tires a good 20 feet down the road. From there on it was a matter of trying to pressure Ben into a mistake. This was essentially my first race dealing with significant aero wash and I clearly had much to learn. Nevertheless, it was a great experience and an awesome 1-2 finish for the team. The second race was very tricky in the sense that it was pouring rain about 2 hours prior to the start of the race, but sunny when we were on the pre-grid. As the track was still wet and cold, the series deemed the race a “wet race” and all of us started on wet tires. From the get-go we knew we had to manage the tire life if no full course cautions came out. Sure enough, the race remained green throughout the entire race up until the last 5 minutes. Our Hankook tires held in there and it was another 1-2 finish for the team except we took the win while Ben was right on our tail. It was certainly a confidence inspiring weekend for not only myself but for everyone at Global Racing Group. To make the weekend even better, our sponsor Stress Engineer Services made the long trek from Houston, TX so I was super pumped to put on a good race for them.

 

Dakota meeting David Hobbs during the RRDC dinner at the Long Beach Grand Prix

Dakota meeting David Hobbs during the RRDC dinner at the Long Beach Grand Prix

Following the first 2 rounds of F3 Americas was a weekend I always look forward to. The Long Beach Grand Prix is the closest INDYCAR race for me. It’s also one of the first races I’ve ever attended as a race fan. It’s also the same weekend as the RRDC dinner that benefits Team USA and SafeisFast. And in particularly list year, it was a perfect opportunity for me to spend the weekend with our new sponsor, Doug Mockett and Co. Doug Mockett is a gracious supporter of up and coming drivers like Spencer Pigot, Colton Herta, and now us as well! The company is based near Long Beach and each year Doug has a beautiful suite on the track so his employees and guests can watch the racing up close! I spent Thursday night at the RRDC dinner with racing legends, drivers, old and new friends, and so many others involved in the sport. Jeremy Shaw and Tamy Valkosky always do such a fantastic job with this event and their really is no better way to kick off race weekend for me. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were filled with fast cars, sunlight, and being envious of those behind the wheel! What did you think of that last lap maneuver by Rahal and Dixon?

 

To finalize a fantastic month of racing, Rounds 3-5 of F3 Americas took place at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The weather is always daunting at Road Atlanta in spring, and sure enough it didn’t fail us. For the 2 days of testing that we had, the track remained dry and we knew we had really good pace for quali and race day. Sure enough come time to qualify, the majority of the track was under water with winds ripping holes in tents and lightning in the background. Around 1pm, the weather had subsided and the track got to work with drying out the track and cleaning parts of it (in some areas, the gravel trap had washed onto the track). Everyone did a fantastic job and we were able to get the first race of the weekend under way.

 

Per the F3 rules, the starting grid is determined by championship points which put us on pole! Unfortunately, as we were on our first of two pace laps to take the standing start, I experienced an issue where we lost a significant amount of power. I radioed into the team and said it felt like I had an F4 engine in the back of the car. Low and behold the intake to the turbo had popped up. The team reconnected it and I was back on track. As the competitors were lining up for the standing start I pulled back into the pits as I would then be required to start from the pits for making a change before taking the green. Luckily for us, the start was aborted because of a car out of position. This meant the field would take another pace lap. While we still had to start from last, it at least meant I could start to attack and move up the field from the green flag. After the first lap, I found myself in 7th. By the time a mid race yellow came out, we were in 4th right behind my teammates, Baltazar and James. I managed to get around James before the checkered came out. While it wasn’t the result we wanted, it was a great recovery by everyone on the team.

 

The #72 Global Racing Group car leading the F3 Americas field.

The #72 Global Racing Group car leading the F3 Americas field.

We grabbed fast lap of the Race 1 which put us on pole for Race 2. From the start of the race we never looked back maintaining a slid gap to P2. Unfortunately, a very bad vibration worsened over the course of the race. It got so bad that it eventually caused us to lose steering input. As such, I went off in turn 10 and had to pit to re-tighten the bolts. We exited the pits a lap down in 10th place. Through sheer perseverance and excellent strategy/communication by the team, we ended the race finishing 6th… two laps down. Again, not the results we wanted but these are the types of race you reflect on at the end of a championship and realize just how important those extra points are when it would’ve been easier to just call it a race.

 

The 3rd race of the weekend we were determined to get the win that eluded us in the first two. We started 2nd on the grid and got a jump on pole position. From there we built a large gap to 2nd place and just managed the pace of the race leading from flag to flag. It felt so good because we were finally able to show the pace that we had all weekend and reward the guys for all of their hard work. As it stands, we are only 1 point off of the points leader and will be working hard prior to Pittsburgh to regain the points lead!

To round out our first month of racing this year, I had the opportunity to drive another Ligier Automotive racecar; a Ligier JSP3 in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series. While I was at the Long Beach Grand Prix, I got a phone call from MLT Motorsports manager Eric VanBibber where they presented me the opportunity to drive with Dylan Murray in their Ligier JSP3 in the IMSA Prototype challenge race at Mid Ohio. I jumped on the opportunity and flew out to Mid Ohio. The weekend was very tricky as intermittent weather littered the weekend. In addition to this, we experience a transmission issue during the test day which resulted in a new transmission going into the car Thursday night. Nevertheless, the team, who was only in it’s second ever event, persevered and got us on track for Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions.

 

Dickerson racing throught the rain in his Ligier JSP3 at Mid Ohio SportsCar Course.

Dickerson racing throught the rain in his Ligier JSP3 at Mid Ohio SportsCar Course.

We decided that I should qualify the car and start the race while Dylan would bring the car home for the second half of the race. I ended up putting the car 4th on the grid which we knew we could push for a good result from. At the start of the race, the conditions were very damp but drying slowly. We managed to get up to 1st after the first few laps of the race and maintained over a 10 second gap to the rest of the field. The conditions made it very tricky as the track was gaining time, so you had to balance pushing the car while not going to far and sending the car off track. As we approached the halfway mark, the team called me in at the perfect time. Dylan jumped in the car and maintained the lead right before a full course caution came out. Dylan took the green for the restart and never looked back. He ran a flawless stint and brought the car home for the win! It was such a fantastic feeling getting the win and I can’t thank the MLT Motorsporst crew enough for the opportunity and all of their hard work. This opportunity also would not have been possible without Ligier Automotive and I really appreciate all that they have done for me.

 

You can follow our seasons progress and all our future events on our social media pages (FB-@DakotaDickersonRacing Insta/Twitter- @DickersonRacing). I really appreciate everyone who has been following our journey thus far.

FIA Prize Giving 2018

December 11, 2019- San Diego, CA- Hello everyone! It has been a year to remember for us and I thought after recently returning from Russia, it would be a good time to write a blog recapping our year and the trip overseas. First and foremost, I can’t thank everyone enough who has been following along and supporting us this past year. Your support means the world to me.


At the beginning of this year, it was unclear whether or not I would be able to race. With 2 weeks before the start of the F4 United States Championship season, I was without a team and unsure of where to go. That was until we spoke with Don Conner at DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports. Only a week before the season starting, we signed a deal with DC Autosport, did a test day at MSR Houston, and were preparing for the 2018 Championship. Fast forward 6 months and we were able to accomplish some amazing achievements. Together, we were able to win 4 races, finish on the podium 11 times, and finish in the points in all but one race out of a total of 17 races. We also now have the record for most consecutive races in the points for the F4 United States Championship. All of this secured us the championship, and with it, a scholarship valued at $230,000 to race in the F3 Americas Championship in 2019.

Baker-181021-Circuit of the Americas-8190.jpg

The $230,000 scholarship is not the only reward for winning F4; another one of the highlights is being invited to the year end FIA Prize Giving ceremony. This is a very prestigious ceremony where all of the FIA champions from around the world, including the likes of Formula One drivers and teams, World Rally Cross and World Endurance Champions, and junior formula champions from around the world come together to receive their championship trophies. This year, the prize giving ceremony was located in St. Petersburg, Russia… in December. Needless to say, it would be a new experience for this California kid but I could not have been more excited.

DSC_0059.JPG

Both myself and my mom would be going on the trip so we got our visas and passports together, along with the heaviest coats we had and flew off to Russia! After a short 24 hours of travel time, we arrived in St. Petersburg. While I had traveled out of the United States before for the Team USA Scholarship, this was my first time going to a country where English wasn’t the primary language. This definitely made things like calling a taxi, asking for directions, or ordering food hard but it was also so much fun trying to communicate in different ways! A lot of times it involved pointing, acting out, and I will admit Siri may have made an appearance to help translate every now and then. We came into Russia a day early so we had time to do some sightseeing. We hit a lot of the major attractions including the Hermitage, Faberge Museum, Summer Gardens (which probably look a lot nicer in the summer I might add), and also got a cool, up close look at Hamilton’s F1 car which was on display in the city center. I was definitely geeking out over seeing his car, but little did I know I would be standing on stage with him later that day as well!


The Prize Giving Ceremony was held at the Great Philharmonic Hall. It was an incredible venue and wonderful atmosphere. There was a big crowd of fans gathered around the main entrance. As I walked through the front doors, I was greeted and taken over for a quick set of photos before mingling with the rest of the guests. As dinner was about to be served, we sat down at our table. Along with myself and my mom, there was the Moises de la Vera from the NACAM Championship, F4 China Champion Jordan Dempsey, the F4 German Champion, and Swedish F4 Champion. Live Russian music was being played on stage while we ate our dinner. The F4, F3, and F2 champions from around the world were then taken back stage where we were all briefed on the procedure for getting on stage to receive our championship trophies. They counted us down and we all walked on stage for the trophy presentation. The eyes of some of my racing heroes were watching us as we stood on stage. It was such a surreal feeling.

IMG_1379.JPG

The rest of the night was packed with fellow racers getting their trophies along with some special awards going out to personality of the year (Hamilton) and Rookie of the Year (Leclerc). The night concluded with the F1 stars receiving their awards. Seeing Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, and Sebastien Vettel receive their awards was really fun to watch. Kimi was really having a great time which we usually don’t see in TV broadcasts. At the very end of the night, they called all the champions on stage for a photo together. I tried to snag a picture with Hamilton but the body guards were very good at their job. I did however get to chat with Kimi.

All in all this is definitely an event that I will never forget and I am so happy I was able to experience this with one of my biggest supporters by my side! Thank you again to everyone who made this possible and in particular to SCCA Pro Racing, Honda HPD, and Onroak Automotive. We are already working on our plans for next year and hope to have an announcement within the next few weeks!

Dakota

Race Report- 2017 St. Pete GP

Race Report- 2017 St. Pete GP

San Diego, CA: After a couple weeks of decompressing from the Grand Prix of St Pete, it’s time to write my first blog of the year!

image1.JPG

Late last year we announced that we signed a 2-year deal with Newman Wachs Racing. Being able to bring the Newman name back into motorsports is an incredible honor but with that, comes a lot of pressure to perform. We put a great deal of preparation into ensuring our success at St. Pete. The year for us started back in January where we tested for 2 days at Sebring, followed by the series test at Homestead, and then a final day of testing at The FIRM in Florida prior to the race weekend. The majority of our testing was extremely successful. Developing a new car, a new driving style, and learning all the tricks that make this car go fast were all some of the key areas that we knew had to be checked off our list.

image4.JPG

As we arrived at St. Pete, the same emotions that came over me last year came to me again. This is a race of excitement as well as anxiety. There were quite a few differences this year compared to last though. This year I came into this race with an amazing team behind me, two rock star teammates, and a year’s worth of experience under my belt. Our first on track activity was walking the circuit during which we noticed much of the track had been repaved, giving the impression that the track would be rather smooth for us to race on. It was quite a rude awakening when we took to the track for our only practice session of the weekend.

For the most part, the track felt smooth (for a street circuit), but coming through turn 3 there was a massive bump that would lift the front of the cars off the ground. This would eventually cause a car to slam the exit wall ending our practice after only 5 or 6 green laps on track. Qualifying for races 1 and 2 were a bit tricky for us. We had to relearn a portion of the track, as officials had changed turn 3 overnight, while also managing traffic and the possibility of red flags. We ended up P4 in both qualifying sessions, which while putting us in a good starting position for the races, didn’t feel like it showed our true potential. At the start of Race 1, I jumped up to 3rd place and managed to hold that position until the last portion of the race where I was passed in turn 1 then freight trained in the following set of corners. This put us back to 7th position, but we were able to gain a spot back prior the checkered flag giving us a 6th place in our first race of the season. Race 2 was almost identical as Race 1 for us. We managed to jump up to P3 at the start of the race but quickly fell back to 5th place before losing an additional spot by the conclusion of the race. The end of the weekend saw us with two 6th place finishes, not what we were hoping for, especially considering the pace we had going into the weekend.

Looking forward now, I am doing everything I can to prepare for rounds 3 and 4 at Barber Motorsports Park. You will find us at Atlanta Motorsport Park the Wednesday prior to the event, getting our final preparations in. The team and I are going to be ready to grab our first podium, our first win, at Barber, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

All the best,

Dakota

Post-Season Review

San Diego, CA- It’s been a long three weeks since I’ve been in a USF2000 racecar, so what better way to deal with the withdrawal than by writing a blog reminiscing on how the season went. My last few write-ups were primarily focused on our results for the weekend, but this time I want to touch mainly on the support from Mazda Motorsports and what it was like to be a Mazda Scholarship driver within the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda.

It is truly hard to describe the amount of support that you get from Mazda Motorsports outside of the actual monetary investments that they make in you. I’m an only child but the best way I could describe it is it’s as if you had a “big brother” looking out for your best interests throughout the season, making sure that every opportunity is seized upon. They really make sure that you can achieve your highest potential and give you advice as to what they would do - everything from career advice, business and social media tips, and driver coaching. The amount of support I received was overwhelming and our success this year would not have been possible without their help.

There were quite a few unique opportunities that came with the scholarship as well. I was able to drive the parade car at Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, go to dinners with series sponsors, and even do a Q&A session with the media with the likes of Will Power, Scott Dixon, and Spencer Pigot at St. Petersburg. All of which was completely unexpected when I initially won the scholarship. More surprises occurred throughout the season such as when I was invited into the team operations while at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Another great aspect of the Mazda Scholarship program, going back to the funding, is that it gives you a year to focus on your next program. This gave us an extra season to focus on raising a full budget to compete in USF2000 again in 2017 with the new Tatuus USF-17. This extra time was crucial for our current program as we were able to raise funding to do some private testing and participate in the Chris Griffis Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend.

Again, this season would not have happened without all of the financial, career, and moral support that Mazda has given me. They were the backbone to our 2016 program and the springboard to 2017. To Jade, Jim, Joel, Kyle, and Mr. Doonan, I sincerely thank you for all of your help this past year, and I will be working harder than ever to win the Championship next year so that I can be your scholarship driver again.

All the best,

Dakota

Race Report - Mid-Ohio

After a short two-week break from Toronto, we were back into the States for Rounds 12, 13 and 14 at Mid-Ohio, where we had a successful series test earlier in the year. We were in the top five for the three test sessions, which took place on Thursday, with the official practice session rounding out the day at 6:30 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite make it out to practice as we had a transmission failure. The guys worked hard to get the car back together before qualifying which took place Friday morning.

I felt confident in our ability to stay among the top five for qualifying, along with the fact that we had an extra set of Cooper Tires (since we didn’t go out in practice). That really helped as we managed to pull out the third fastest lap time! This was crucial as it would put us in third position for the start of all three races. We were all so pumped and knew that the work and changes we’d put into the program were paying off.

Race One concluded Friday’s on track events. I was a bit nervous taking the green flag and was railed around the outside by Brazilian Victor Franzoni. I later went off in Turn Four, and the rest of the race was a hard-fought battle for fifth, our second top-five finish of the year.

Earlier in the week, an announcement came out that the newest crop of rising stars would gather to be interviewed for the Team USA Scholarship on Friday night at Mid-Ohio. This obviously brought back some great memories for me and I was thrilled to be invited to help out with the interview process. The night kicked off with a wonderful dinner and it was great being able to talk with a lot of the familiar faces who had been interviewing me just a year prior. Then it was time for the one-on-one interviews. I could tell how nervous the nominees were, and for a good reason.

The Team USA Scholarship is a career-changing opportunity; it certainly was for me. I was, hopefully, able to ease the nominees’ stress and answer questions that they had. We mostly talked about what it’s like to be a Team USA Scholarship winner, and what to expect. After speaking with the nominees, I can say with confidence that Jeremy Shaw will have a hard decision to make, as usual. As the night concluded, everyone went back to their respective duties, preparing for the next day of on-track activities.

I was more confident for Saturday’s Race Two and more determined to remain where we belonged. We charged hard in the opening laps and battled our way around the twisting 2.258-mile road course. We came up a bit short but still earned our third consecutive top-five finish. Even though we were on an extremely strong run, it was eating away at me that we weren’t on the podium – yet so close at the same time. I had one more opportunity on Sunday – our third of the weekend – and once again we were out of the gate strong, holding our third position through Turns One and Two. As the race went on, though, the chances of a podium were slowly slipping away as we just didn’t quite have the pace. We ended the race in sixth, which was a little disappointing, but at the same time it was a great weekend for us, with very consistent finishes up near the front of the pack.

As we take a break before the finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, I can’t help but find myself constantly thinking about what we have accomplished this season. It has been one of the hardest fought years of my career, but being able to wear this Soul Red Mazda Scholarship suit has been such an honor. The Mazda scholarship itself is so much more than a free season of USF2000. It is an opportunity to become part of a family who will constantly go above and beyond to help you succeed. This next race weekend will be sad as it sees the conclusion of the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, but I will be working harder than anyone to get back into such a great program again in 2017. Thank you Mazda, Cooper Tires, Andersen Promotions, USF2000, Team USA Scholarship and to everyone who has made this all possible.

All the best,
Dakota