Patrick Barrett – Andersen Racing Star Mazda Test

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Patrick Barrett

Published on October 09, 2007 with No Comments

Alton, Va. (October 9, 2007) – My busy schedule continued this past week at Virginia International Raceway when I tested – along with my Team USA Scholarship teammate Joel Miller – the Andersen Racing Team’s Formula Star Mazda cars. The test gave us the chance to drive a high-horsepower car in preparation for the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy in late October/early November in England. This opportunity was arranged and made possible by Dan Andersen, Star Mazda, Jeremy Shaw (Team USA Scholarship founder) and supporters of the Team USA Scholarship program.

The day before the test I was introduced to everyone on the Andersen Racing team. I was fitted into a seat and was debriefed about the controls in the car and what I would be concentrating on throughout the test the following day.

My first session out in the Star Mazda was an interesting experience. I talked to drivers that competed in the series about the driving characteristics and handling of the car. The responses and conversations all ended the same: “It’s just like driving a go-kart, but bigger and faster.” Or “You’ll have a blast… trust me.” As it turned out… they were right.

The car was very different to the car I normally race. It required a different style of driving – a style that I haven’t used since my karting days. After a couple of 10-lap stints, I was able to find a groove and understand what the car likes and doesn’t like. I was told that the car doesn’t take to well to trail-braking (a technique commonly used in most forms of formula car racing.)

After my third session, I was ready for new Goodyear tires. What I experienced in the Champ Car Atlantic in mid-September was that new tires made a tremendous difference in the handling of a higher horsepower car. I learned that you can shave nearly a second-and-a-half off of your best time. On my first stint out, I immediately trimmed off a whole second. I spent a majority of the mid-afternoon trying different shock packages, damper and aero changes. My engineer for the test, Dominic Cape, was a great help in figuring out specific issues with the car. He explained components on the car that made diagnosing handling issues much easier to understand.

My final two sessions of the day were the most enjoyable of the whole test. The team put on another new set of tires and sent me out in attempt to set my fastest time of the day. My first five laps were the best the car had driven all day. I understood what the car wanted to do under braking, in the turns and under acceleration. I could drive the car where I wanted it to go without hurting the tires or scrubbing speed and losing time. At the end of my final run, I was able to run consistent times and prevent the tires from blistering or show signs of understeer or oversteer.

The highlight of the day, aside from driving a 250bhp, Mazda rotary engine formula car, was the presence of Speed Channel. A reporter and camera person, Sarah and Nikki, recorded interviews with Joel, myself and Dan Andersen for a piece that will be broadcasted on The Speed Report, in November. It will bring the Team USA Scholarship Program and promising, young American drivers such as myself great exposure and recognition throughout their North America broadcast area.

At day’s end, I logged in over 170 miles, went through two sets of new Goodyear tires, pinpointed specific areas of fitness I can improve on and gained valuable experience driving a unique type of open wheel car.

It was a wonderful opportunity and I’m extremely grateful to everyone for making it happen.

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