Aaron Telitz: The Walter Hayes Passing Festival

Written by Team USA. Posted in Aaron Telitz, Driver Blogs, Feature

Published on November 07, 2014 with No Comments

Birchwood, Wis. – Welcome back to The Chronicles of a Race Car Driver In England! I’m pretty sure we left off with me sitting in a gravel trap at Brands Hatch comparing myself to Ricky Bobby. So let’s get a little more positive before we hit another negative!

After the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch we had a short week to get ready for the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. We arrived at the track on Wednesday to get ready for an awesome weekend of racing. The two test days on Thursday and Friday went extremely well. The Silverstone National circuit is as different from Brands Hatch as you can get. It is wide, flat and crazy-fast! I ended up fastest in my group and was feeling confident for qualifying on Saturday.

Being used as a launching pad during the Heat race (Jack Mitchell/JAM Motorsport Photography).

When I rolled out for qualifying on Saturday the track was very damp from an overnight rain shower but the sun was out and it was a very warm day. I felt out the conditions and was able to put my American flag with wheels on it (AKA the “Freedom Wagon”) on pole position for the second time in as many attempts! I had a decent start in my heat race and held first place until Turn Three (Becketts) when I got a full on slide job put on me. I managed not to bang wheels and we headed down the long back straight towards Brooklands. I was on the outside of Turn Four (Brooklands) when out of nowhere I actually got ran over! My Freedom Wagon was pretty well doomed and I limped her back to the pits. Luckily my car wasn’t too badly damaged and the Cliff Dempsey boys had it ready to go for Sunday in no time. I was now staring at a LOT of work to do on Sunday. I would need to race my way into the final from the back of three grids. To add to the challenge the weather for Sunday was looking very English (sorry, Jeremy; Ed-That’s OK!).

Telitz working his way through the field (Jack Mitchell/JAM Motorsport Photography).

Sunday dawned, or well, just turned a brighter shade of grey when the sun came up. The track was soaked and it was still misting and spitting rain which it was supposed to do all day. I started the Progression Race on the second to last row and had over 20 cars to pass in 10 laps in order to transfer to the “Last Chance” race. I managed to get a good start and steadily passed cars until the end of the race. I managed to make it all the way up to second place! So I then had literally a 30-minute break and I was back in my car for the Last Chance Race. I started in 32nd position and the track was even more wet. If you have never had the opportunity to start a race behind over 30 open wheel cars you probably won’t understand my complaining when I say I couldn’t see anything for the first two laps. I had made some good progress in those first two laps – however, a red flag stopped the race. This meant I’d have to go back and start again in 32nd position when they restarted the race. I would also now only have eight laps to make it into a transfer spot. When we restarted I threw caution to the wind blasted through all the spray making my way forward as fast as I could! Whether I evolved infrared vision overnight or I finally caught some luck I managed to make it up to fourth by the finish without running into anyone. This gave me a shot to fight my way into the final! I started the Semi-Final in 32nd position again and had a great start and was already up into a transfer spot on Lap Two when another red flag came out. I again had to restart the race from 32nd – and had two laps less to get near the front! I battled hard up to eighth which transferred me into the Grand Final!

I lined up 15th for the final and thought to myself “Huh, this isn’t so bad.” And it wasn’t so bad! I made it quickly up into the top 10 around Lap Four or Five. Then after making a pass on Joey Foster for eighth and slotting in behind fellow Freedom Wagoneer Michai, I was spun by Joey in the next corner! I fell back to 16th and managed to work my way back up to 11th by the finish.

I was a bit bummed to have a shot at a podium or even a win if the cards fell my way taken away after a full day of scraping by for everything I could get! It was certainly a character building weekend for me. After a day to fully digest my extremely busy Sunday at Silverstone I did some math and found out I passed 116 cars total in the four races (including cars passed before red flags).

There is no doubt I got all the track time I could possibly get at the Walter Hayes Trophy. It was honestly a lot of fun coming from the back of all those races. I really enjoyed the challenge. Again, thank you so much to all of the Team USA supporters! I have had the time of my life these past three weeks and could never thank you enough.

And of course thank you to all my friends, family and readers who have been following along on my journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed it almost as much as I have.

Aaron

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