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Q&A Part 2

Keep those questions coming and let me know what you'd like to learn about racing! This week, I'll be answering two more questions.

Question 1, from Clement Lee, “How do you contrast aero vs. mechanical grip? Can you "feel" when you are about to exceed aero grip or do you just "go off the cliff"?”

For me, this is all still a learning process but from what I have experienced, it seems as if the aero is not your limiting factor of grip in these cars in the high speed corners. They generate over 1000lbs of down force at 150mph. This means that if you are going through a high speed corner like turn 7 at Barber Motorsports Park (the reason I’m using this corner is because I went off here during testing) and you over step the limits of the aero, you are most likely going to “fall of the cliff.” Both figuratively and literally. It is incredibly hard to catch a big slide in these cars whereas say in the Mazda Miata, you can really get the car rotated, possibly overstep the limits of mechanical grip in the tires, and come back.

To recap, from what I’ve experienced in the USF2000 car is that you can anticipate a loss of grip and “falling off the cliff”, but there is not much you can do about it once it happens, whereas in a solely mechanical grip car, there is an opportunity to correct this.

This is how I made up 10 spots in 2 corners at St. Petersburg

Round 1 Race start of the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Series powered by Mazda. Started 16th, ended up 6th out of the 2nd corner.

Question 2, from Darwin Felix, regarding the incident in the final laps of race two at the GP of St. Petersburg. “For the Sunday race, what would you change inside the helmet if you had that race to do over again?”

First and foremost, thank you very much Darwin and to anyone else out there that was watching the races. It is truly awesome that the fans are able to tune into our races and watch live stream, with commentary. I hope you all enjoyed the races.

There were a lot of different aspects to race 2 compared to race 1 on Saturday, mainly due to the fact that we had over 3 times the amount of green flag running. There were multiple things that I could have done better in that race.

It was a lot about learning the different aspects of racing wheel to wheel in this series. We started 16th, on the outside row. We managed to move up to I believe it was 10th place by lap 2. There were 1 or 2 opportunities for me to gain a position, but at the same time I didn’t want my race to end prematurely. Going through the race, it was mainly defense for me. I had to do a lot of defending during the green flag periods and there wasn’t much I would change about that. The field is extremely competitive in this field, which makes it hard to overtake. We had a full course caution with about 15 minutes remaining.

Where I feel like I really could have improved, not only for the 2nd race but for the weekend in general, were the restarts. If I could have improved my position on the restart, the end of the race might have been an entire different story. With about 5 minutes remaining, I continued to defend from 2 cars behind me. We were going into turn 4, I was defending down the inside, the car behind me moved left to the driving line, and the car two behind me went to the right in an attempt to overtake the both of us. I gave the inside car room but it wasn’t enough as his front left tire and my right rear tire connected.

This, in turn, ended my race as the right rear corner of my car was facing the sky. If I had to change something about that incident I would have possibly given the inside driver more room, but at the same time in no way do I have the intention of just giving up a position.

There were multiple things that could have prevented that accident, but sometimes racing is just racing. It happens. All in all, I think I can reflect on St. Pete, especially race 2, and come out of it with a lot more knowledge, and head into Rounds 3 and 4 at Barber Motorsports Park even stronger.

Take a look at the incident from my point-of-view.

A bit of contact going through turn 4 at the Streets of St. Petersburg, during the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Series Powered by Mazda.

Stay tuned for more answers, and don't forget to send your questions!

Q&A Part 1

Thank you to all of those who sent in your questions last week. We will be doing more of these so if you have a question, post it in the comments! This will be the first of a multi-part series.

Question 1, from Tyler Swartz, “When can we swap seats for a day?"

Well, if we could pull off something as organized as the Tony Stewart/ Lewis Hamilton stunt I would be all for it. What would be interesting is if you stopped by for one of our races in Indianapolis this year.

We have the Indy GP and then an Oval race at Lucas Oil Raceway. Since it’ll be my first time on an oval in a formula car, I’m sure you could give me some great advice! In return, we always bring a 3rd car to the races. Now I’m not saying you can take it out on track, but there is a 3rd car…


Question 2 is from Aaron Meyer. He asked, “What kind of training regiment do you do to stay in shape through the year?"

A lot of the training I do to stay in shape is cardio. The minimum weight in these cars is 1,220 lbs. That means the drivers wet weight (weight with all his gear on) has to be anywhere between 165-175 lbs in order to not be too far over the minimum weight. As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I had to lose nearly 20 lbs in order to not only be in good condition to race, but to also not be a hindrance to the performance of the car.

That being said, I still have a bit of work to go. I usually run and bike on a daily basis. For me, it is definitely not the most fun thing to do, but at the same time I think of it as the more weight I lose, the faster I go in the car! Living 15 minutes from the beach also helps as it is always a nice view to run or swim at the beach. It is also key to make sure the I am strong enough to push the car to its limits for the entirety of the race.

Back at the end of 2015, I first tested in the USF2000 car with Afterburner Autosport and realized how much more physically demanding these cars were compared to say the Skip Barber Formula 2000 cars or the Mazda Spec Miata. I was really feeling sore in my shoulders, forearms, and neck. There are some good workouts that help muscle groups like these, so I followed specific training regimens until my test in February. I felt much better in the car and was able to run more consistent lap times. Jim Leo from PitFit Training works with a lot of top level racing professionals, and while I haven’t been able to work with him much, he would be my number one recommendation for any drivers wanting to up their physical game.


Stay tuned for more answers, and don't forget to send your questions!