Connor De Phillippi – The experience of a lifetime!

Written by Team USA. Posted in Connor De Phillippi, Driver Blogs

Published on November 11, 2009 with No Comments

San Clemente, Calif. (November 11, 2009) – These past three weeks have been an experience of a lifetime. There were so many experiences within the whole experience, and each one of them has been extremely beneficial to my career already. Before the whole Team USA trip, there was that lingering thought in my head of how the Europeans may be that little bit better than we are in the States. Although, after the whole experience, my initial thought was definitely proven wrong!

As I woke up early Sunday morning at Silverstone, rain drops were falling and the wind was howling. With my pole position result on Saturday and runner-up result in the Heat race, I was prepared more than ever to prove myself. It looked like it was going to be wet all day, but then the rain let up, and since my heat was quite late compared to the others, it began to dry out before my Semi-Final. For the Semi, I was starting in the fourth spot and I needed to be in the top two for sure to secure a good starting position for the Final.

On the opening lap, I got a great start and moved into third as we approached Turn One. We made our way down the backstretch, then the drama occurred. As I made my move to pass for second, he made a block on me and at the same time found himself in the brake zone not prepared to stop. The second-place driver drove over the leader, flipped and I took over the lead [photo, above]. Putting my head down, I pulled out to a bit of a gap and just ran a consistent pace to secure the win. This win was a great way to start the day, and gave me a fantastic starting position for the final.

Now to the Final. Red lights went on and my shield went down. I knew I needed to have a perfect opening lap to capitalize on my car being quick on cold tires. Once the lights went out, I got away with a clean start and hit Turn One perfectly pulling out to about a three-car length lead. Once we made our way down the backstretch I was able to maintain the lead even with the draft. Lap after lap I continued to pull away until about lap four or five. Entering the last turn of the complex, I got too far inside where the track was still wet from the drying track conditions. The wet spot caused me to have a huge slide and nearly go off the track. I fell back to 4th, regrouped and began my assault back towards the front. Pace was not a problem for me; it was just going to be a matter of how difficult it was going to be to get back to the lead. After about four more laps I made my way back to the front and put my head down once again. While the laps continued to count down, I continued to pull out a to a bigger and bigger lead. At last the final lap board was shown to me by the team, and I knew I just needed to make no mistakes and bring it home. Exiting the last turn, I knew I had done it. I drove to the finish with my fist held high and my mechanic, Andrew, going crazy on the pit wall. Finally, that moment had come. The moment of victory.

The feeling I had after the race was like none other. As I came down pit lane to the podium, Andrew and the crew were there and I gave them the biggest hugs possible. It was the greatest feeling to have fulfilled my dream weekend, and fulfilled the expectations of the team. Everyone knew. It was a TEAM effort.

I would now like to send a huge Thank You to the whole Dempsey family and the entire Cliff Dempsey Racing Team. Cliff and Michelle were my mom and dad for these past three weeks, and I could not have asked for two better “parents.” Peter helped tremendously at the track with every tip possible to give, and is also a very close friend now. Also, my American teammate Brett Smrz. He is a great friend of mine, and I am glad I was able to share this experience with him. Working together when either one of us needed help led to each of ours success, and I am glad to have had such a great teammate.

More special thanks go to Andrew, Franky, Francie, Bob, Dave Hart, Dave Collier, Scott Malvern, Cormac O’Neil, Stephen Daly, Doug Prendeville, Patrick McKenna and Gavin Ray for a fantastic car.

Most importantly, a huge Thank You to the Team USA Scholarship. Without the opportunity that Jeremy Shaw and all of the supporters gave me, I would not be the even better driver that I am today. These experiences I will have for my career, and all of these new friendships I will have for the rest of my life.

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