Josef Newgarden – The Taste of a Star Mazda car!

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Josef Newgarden

Published on November 19, 2008 with No Comments

Hendersonville, Tenn. (November 19, 2008) – Earlier in the week, myself along with my teammate Conor Daly were able to gain a taste for what a Star Mazda car could do thanks to Andersen Racing’s contribution to this year’s Team USA Scholarship program. After watching these cars at the tracks for the last two years and wondering what they were like, obviously receiving this opportunity was really exciting for me!We arrived in Tampa, Florida, the previous day to meet with the crew and get me comfortable in the car. Anderson Racing has a really nice layout in Palmetto, Florida, which is used as a base for their Indy Lights, F2000 and Star Mazda programs. The entire team was really pleasant and friendly and seemed to take a lot of pride in their line of work.

As soon as the car fitment was completed (which was done in a very short period, thanks to the crew), myself and my mom headed over to Sebring Raceway to check into our hotel located right across from the track to have some food and get a good night’s sleep before the next day’s test. Andersen Racing apparently has a pretty sweet relationship with this hotel, as they were able to hook us up with free breakfasts along with bedtime cookies and milk. Literally, their room service came to our room and served us fresh cookies and milk before bed; talk about living the life!

The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast and headed straight over to the track. The team was already set up and ready to go, so I was able to meet with my engineer for the day and go over some pre-track strategy for getting used to the car. The main things he wanted me to focus on were getting comfortable and, most importantly, braking. Seeing as this car produces a fair amount of downforce, the driver must get the most out of that when heading into a brake zone.

As soon as the track went green, we were ready to go and set out into our first session. We used Sebring’s shorter test track, which was not as much fun as their full-scale track but still had some character and hard brake zones, which was beneficial to me so that I could practice using all the downforce of the car. The idea is to give a very hard initial stab at the brake pedal while the car has maximum downforce and bleed the pressure as the car loses that force. Another thing that was great about the car was its ability to receive slight throttle inputs to balance the car’s behavior before turning into the corner.

After watching and hearing how to properly get the most out the car for the last couple years, I was able to pick up on it fairly quickly. The team was satisfied with what I was able to achieve in the first session and began to work on setup with me. In our third session of the day, we put on sticker tires and did a 12-lap run. The car had a noticeable improvement in overall grip, which reflected in the lap times.

After completing over 150 miles in the car, I unfortunately had to leave and catch a plane back home, as I was due to catch another plane to England the next day. I wasn’t able to use my second set of sticker tires, but the time I had in the car was very helpful in helping develop my skills as a driver. I want to thank Jeremy Shaw and everyone involved in this year’s Team USA Scholarship program along with Andersen Racing for graciously providing us with this test. All I can say is after finally getting the chance to test a Star Mazda car, the taste is truly sweet!

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