Jack Sullivan: Testing, Touring and Learning to Cook

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Published on November 03, 2023 with No Comments

The Irish roads were a challenge!

SILVERSTONE, England – The day after the Formula Ford Festival, my family (Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle), Ayrton and I all packed onto a Ryanair flight to Ireland. After landing in Dublin, we found our seven-seater rental car and headed on our way across the country to the Cliffs of Moher. The drive started smoothly being on the motorways but once we got off onto smaller roads, it got a bit bumpy. Literally. Each road got smaller and smaller until we managed to get on a road that was wide enough for only one car with stone walls on each side and cars coming at us from the other direction. Super scary to say the least.

The stunning Cliffs of Moher, well worth a visit!.

I feel that I should’ve been driving since my dad was never fully used to driving on the “other” side of the road. We had a few close calls where he would accidentally pull out in front of traffic not realizing right turns are the equivalent of left turns in America. Anyway, no harm no foul, and we safely made it to the Cliffs, which were absolutely stunning, and we were lucky enough to have great visibility with a beautiful sunset. We then made a trip to our first Irish pub where we got the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, and my dad got what he wanted most: a real Irish pint of Guinness. From there we walked to our house to get a good night’s sleep after a very long day. Another early morning came, and we made the four-hour drive back to Dublin to catch our flight back to England, then to our hotel and rested up for the following day, which we spent sightseeing in London.

A display of Bruce McLaren and his original Austin 7.

This past week we also got some awesome tours at the McLaren Technology Centre and at Mercedes F1. Starting off with McLaren, we got to see a few of their most famous cars. The history associated with each and every car was absolutely astounding. It was surreal to visit the MTC since I had seen all the McLaren “Tooned” Cartoons as a kid where Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton voice acted themselves in the cartoon and it made for a very funny and cool series all based in the MTC.

Hamilton’s Mercedes, exactly as it finished the 2021 season.

Moving onto Mercedes F1, we started by having a look at Lewis Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi 2021 car which hasn’t been touched since it left the track. We then moved on to where they have some of their manufacturing with over 20 massive CNC machines that can produce just about anything on the car that isn’t carbon. These machines are also sometimes what make molds for carbon parts. The separate composite shop had five separate autoclaves. We then moved into the testing room where they do stress testing on components from just single components to sub-assemblies, or even a fully assembled car. To conclude the tour, we walked around the engineer’s offices where they draw all the components on CAD software and test them with CFD software. Lastly, we saw the race bays where the cars are put together before each race weekend and they do most of the component test fitting there. We also saw one of the at-track performance engineers, Andrew Shovlin, aka “Shov,” do his weekend debrief YouTube video.

We took a day to go to the Queen’s Park Rangers vs. Leicester football match in London. I’ve never seen such dedication to a sports team in my life. All the chanting and yelling and screaming was very intense but certainly made the spectator experience a lot better. It was during this trip that we got a very unexpected text from Andy Low. He told us we’d be testing a GB3 car the next day at Donington Park Circuit.

The GB3 Tatuus had what seemed like a crazy amount of grip!

Upon arrival back in Brackley, we went to check on the boys while they were packing everything up. Before we got there, the motor for the trailer’s tail lift failed and the replacement spun the wrong way, so we looked to be out of luck. Fortunately, Andy was able to find someone to rent him a trailer at 9:30 p.m. the day before the test. The morning came and everything went smoothly with the new trailer, and we made it to a drying Donington Park. After waiting for it to be fully dry, I got my first laps in a wing car, and it was the most mind-boggling sensation I’ve ever experienced. The experience of hitting the apex at the “Old Hairpin” at 120 mph with all the downforce making the car stick through the turn is unmatched by anything I have ever done before and I’m determined to make that a regular sensation in the upcoming season.

Ayrton put me to work on the food prep!

Daily life has been great during our stay in Brackley. Most days Ayrton does the cooking, and usually, we eat a steak and some rice, but we decided to end our stay at our Airbnb with a nice Beef Wellington. We decided that I should help and do most of the prep and Ayrton would do the searing of the beef and the baking of the pastry. Neither of us eats mushrooms so we had to switch out the mushroom for a thyme crepe. We ended up with a triangular slab of beef which made cooking it a bit difficult, but it turned out quite good, especially with a side of a nice chunk of garlic bread.

Most of our running at Silverstone has been wet (JEP).

This weekend we’ll be on track for the last time of our trip at Silverstone for the Walter Hayes Trophy. Testing has gone well and we are excited to start out tomorrow tomorrow with qualifying and then our Heat races. We have been been drawn into Heat Three, for which qualifying is slated for 9:44 a.m. and the race at 1:08 p.m.

You can watch a live stream over the course of the weekend on YouTube with these links: Saturday link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gL1CJB_TwgE. Sunday Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi47TXd-_Ho

There will also be live timing and scoring at https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/234456. Please note that the races can start early….

Ammonite driver coach James Theodore has been great (JEP).

After looking at the forecast, it seems we’re going to have a wet Saturday and a dry Sunday so the racing should be entertaining, and I feel very confident that we can come away with some strong results in both conditions.

To close out this blog, I would like to thank Jeremy Shaw, Andy Low, all the Team USA partners and supporters, and my family who have supported me and worked so hard to give me all the opportunities and experiences during this trip.
– Jack

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