London, England (November 6, 2007) â€“ Itâ€™s been two weeks since Joel and I first arrived in England to compete in this yearâ€™s Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy. During that time we met some great people, learned about the European racing culture and competed against some of Englandâ€™s best junior formula car drivers who were there to qualify for the sixth position in the prestigious McLaren/Autosport/BRDC Award Shootout. Though we didnâ€™t get the results we had hoped for, the experience we gained was more than what we could have asked for.
Jeremy Shaw arranged for Joel and myself to visit the Force India/Spyker Formula One Team factory located next to the Silverstone Race Circuit on our final day in England. Michael Gomme took the time to show us around and explain what goes on in nearly every room. From being shown where new aerodynamic pieces are designed to walking around their two story transporters, it was an incredible experience seeing how a Formula One team operates.
After the Spyker tour Joel and I went to visit the Alan Docking Racing team. ADR have been involved with the British F3 Championship since 1983. Alan also contests the British Formula Ford Championship. ADR supplied F3 cars for the U.S. Red Bull Driver Search for several years and provides an engineering staff for Team Australia in A1 GP. After Alan showed us around his shop, Joel and I had lunch inside the Silverstone Race Circuit.
After lunch, we walked up and down the pit lane during a motorcycle track day and noticed a group of people wearing Mercedes McLaren F1 jackets, assembling temporary walls in a garage. We went in for a closer look and saw tire warmers on the ground with Fernando Alonsoâ€™s name on them. Recently hearing about Alonsoâ€™s departure from the McLaren team, there were many rumors going around about who would replace him in 2008. Seeing the team setting up for what looked like to be an upcoming test, Joel and I were disappointed knowing that we werenâ€™t going to be able to see the â€œmystery driverâ€ test because of our flight home the next day.
We dropped by the gift shop and purchased some goodies and made the return trip to Palmer Audi at the Bedford Autodrome. We checked our e-mail one last time before we drove to a hotel near the Heathrow airport. After we said our good-byes the rain began to fall as we were running out to the carâ€¦ must have been Englandâ€™s farewell gift to us.
As I reflect back on my two week stay in England, I sometimes wish that the experience would have been longer. The racing was extremely challenging and enjoyable and I felt that this journey has shaped me into becoming a better race car driver. The competition was unlike any other that I had experienced, and despite the tough results, the people I met and friends I made was more than what I could have asked for.
Iâ€™m looking forward to taking what I learned from the last three months in being involved with the Team USA Scholarship. I know that what ever I compete in for the following seasons to come, that my skills as a race car driver on and off the track will be far from where they were at the beginning of this year. Like I tell myself everyday, â€œthereâ€™s always something new to learn.â€
I want to thank everyone involved with the Team USA Scholarship Program for their fantastic support. Knowing that you have so many people who believe in you and want to see you succeed is a great feeling and makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Jeremy Shaw, who founded the Team USA Scholarship in 1990, has put together a fantastic program and Iâ€™m really happy that I could be a part of his work in supporting young, talented American drivers. Every year more and more people become involved with the program and itâ€™s exciting to see interest in Team USA grow.