Dakota Dickerson: Memories are Made of This

Written by Team USA. Posted in Dakota Dickerson, Driver Blogs, Feature

Published on October 21, 2015 with No Comments

With Michai and our driver coach, James Theodore, at Mercedes.

Brands Hatch, England – Good afternoon from a very rainy Brands Hatch! This past week has been filled with F1 sights, relaxation and now some excellent testing. As my teammate has told you, we visited the Mercedes AMG Formula One facility on Thursday. The amount of effort and precision put into every small aspect of their operations was beyond impressive. We visited a section of the facility where every nut and bolt is checked and rechecked for hairline fractures. We also visited the Research and Development sections along with their manufacturing. One of the most memorable items in the factory was the last car driven by Michael Schumacher for Mercedes.

After the hour-long tour, we went back home and got ready for our second test, this time on the Silverstone International circuit. Racing on a track that so many legends have raced on was an experience which I won’t forget. With both the visit to the Mercedes F1 factory and the testing at Silverstone, history had been pouring down on me. The Cliff Dempsey Racing team and I had a very successful test at Silverstone and were anxious to get to Brands Hatch.

Typical UK weather at Oulton Park!

Cliff and Jack were back at the shop throughout the weekend prepping the cars and checking them over while Michelle and I went to Oulton Park to pick up a spare motor for the coming race week. After our six-hour journey, it was time for a bit of rugby. Some people call me crazy for driving a race car, but what’s even crazier are 200+ pound men hitting each other as hard as they can…without any padding on. Never would I ever take part in this but, man, is it entertaining to watch!

The next day was another day of rugby, cheering on the Irish and Scottish teams in the Rugby World Cup, which is taking place in England right now. Both came up short but it was enjoyable hanging out with Michelle, Cliff and Michai on a very relaxing Sunday.

Monday was all about preparation for the coming race week. I watched the 1990, 2013 and 2014 Formula Ford Festivals on the telly to get a preview of the race craft, lines and to see who I would be stacking up against. The racing was some of the best I have seen and that only made me want to get to the track even sooner.

After a brief drive yesterday, we arrived at a very sunny Brands Hatch. The weather was just like back at home in California – warm, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. It was perfect because we had to set up camp. But the weather didn’t hold up for long. We were able to get the awning up and the cars under before heading back up to the hotel for a quick bite to eat. I was off to bed early and got a good night’s sleep for the next day’s test.

Setting up at Brands Hatch.

I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the window and knew it was going to be a fun day. Michai and I went down to the trailer, changed over to our clear visors, and jumped into our cars along with Team Canada Scholarship winner Michael Adams. The first session was just testing the waters (pun intended). Going over Paddock Hill Bend for the first time was very daunting. The track climbs up on entry then, right as you want to turn, it falls away which makes for a very interesting line in the wet. I headed up towards Druid’s, made my way down towards Graham Hill Bend then onto the short straight leading up to the chicane, then finally onto Clearways leading on the main straight which is the only place where we grab fourth gear in our Ray Formula Ford cars. After the first session was complete, I was several tenths off pace but knew there was still more in the bag. I debriefed with my exceptional mechanics and engineers before heading back out. Session two was much better. I made a few driving adjustments and ended up two-tenths off of the front runners on older tires. I just now have come in after the third session and it was a hectic one. Multiple red flags hindered our one-hour session to the point where I only had three laps on track. The track was drying out and was getting faster each lap. I can’t wait for the next couple of days as I feel like we are going to be very quick!

Thank you to Matt Meadows for the awesome tour of the Mercedes AMG F1 factory, the Cliff Dempsey Racing team, and Jeremy and the Team USA Scholarship for giving me this opportunity. There will be many more updates to come!

All the best,
Dakota

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