Oxford, UK (March 8, 2009) â€“ What a difference a month can make. I now live in a cozy little flat less than a mile from the city center in Oxford. I have a fully funded, full-time ride signed, sealed and delivered to compete in the newly named 2009 MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain. Returning as my primary sponsor is Robo-Pong ping pong robots (robopong.com) and I will be competing for the front running JTR (Joe Tandy Racing) team. Most importantly, I know these are going to be 25 of the most memorable races I will ever contest during my entire career!
Although I just turned 18 and I will never underestimate my competition, I definitely have a very high level of confidence that I am up to the challenge and will be consistently winning races and contesting for the overall British National FF Championship during my rookie year. I donâ€™t know if any American has ever won this series before, but I didnâ€™t come this far just to continue some silly tradition. Besides that, backing up my win for Team USA last October at the Formula Ford Festival is one of my biggest incentives!
Over the next month I have seven test days scheduled, all of them at tracks that will be contested in the first four rounds of the championship, which begins on April 11, 2009. Yesterday, I saw my new Mygale FF for the first time, and although it was mostly in pieces at the race shop, Joe Tandy and my crew mates, Ricky and Chris, assured me it will be ready to hit the track at Snetterton this Friday for the first shakedown laps of the season. I have just as high a level of confidence in my whole crew as I do in myself. To me the chemistry between me and the team is the biggest key to having a championship-winning season.
Besides my sponsor and my race team, Iâ€™ve also been very fortunate to land in a great living situation with another race driver from Canada, Philip Major, who competes in British F3. I actually got very lucky due to someone elseâ€™s big misfortune. Another fellow race driver, Steven Guerrero, had a very bad motorcycle accident after returning home to Colombia at the end of last season. Steven had my room lined up for this year here in the UK but his injuries were too severe for him to return this season. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and made a deal for a great place. Everyone over here is wishing Steven a quick and full recovery!
Besides a great place to live, I also got a great deal on a used car. Cars, roads and driving are much different over here than in the U.S. I got a 2006 Subaru estate wagon with a 3-liter motor and an automatic transmission. Itâ€™s got plenty of torque and Bilstein suspension too! With the current conversion of dollars to pounds being so good, I got a great deal on it and it even has plenty of room in the boot [Ed: Wow, Josef is becoming Anglicized already! â€œBootâ€ means trunk to us here in the U.S.] for all my gear, plus the gear of another race driver to share the ride and expense of trips back and fourth to the circuits. Now if I can just get my UK insurance issues worked out and pay for my gasoline [Ed: Itâ€™s â€œpetrolâ€ over there!], Iâ€™ll be all set….
To put my current thoughts into perspective, yesterday I met up with a local photographer at Silverstone race track to take part in a media shoot for my management and promotion company. He definitely knew what he was doing and although it always makes me feel a little weird when ever Iâ€™m getting my picture taken, one of the shots he took really made me think about how I felt just a few short months ago. It was right after New Yearâ€™s and it was a cold, dark January day in Nashville, Tenn. I remember thinking about my friend Conor Daly preparing to go to Sebring for testing in his Star Mazda and the championship he will contest during 2009 via the scholarship he won from the Skip Barber National. I remember I was thinking I might not even be racing this year and how much I felt like I was on the outside looking in when it came to achieving my racing goals. Today when I looked at one of my latest media pictures taken at the famed Silverstone raceway with sun shining in the background and me showing off my new helmet colors for 2009, I realized Iâ€™m probably one of the luckiest guys in the world! Iâ€™m making real progress toward achieving my goals in big-time auto racing. Now Iâ€™m definitely on the inside looking out!
Sometimes life has a funny way of working things out and Iâ€™ll be sure to keep all of you posted as to how it all works out from over here…….