You Don’t Have to be in a Classroom to get Schooled…

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Trent Hindman

Published on October 24, 2011 with No Comments

Wayside, N.J. (October 24, 2011) – After our tour of the Morgan Cars factory, our adventure through London and finally getting to meet the Cliff Dempsey Racing team, it was time to get on track. I have watched races from Brands Hatch for years and now finally having the chance to drive it was unbelievable! I was relieved that I would get plenty of laps; three full days of testing. I was able to get used to the track and car within the first day. Thursday was even better because more and more people who I would be competing against were getting on track. This meant that we would soon realize how we Americans would stack up against the Europeans.

Friday was the official practice day, and I do have to admit, it was extremely difficult trying to get clean laps with over 40 cars on a 1.2-mile track! It was quite entertaining and I was happy that I was able to get some practice passing. It was also really tough with the amount of red flags in the sessions as well. At the end of the day, Cliff and I felt confident that we were ready for the races.

Since there were so many cars, there were two separate heats for the Kent class. Neil was in Group One and I was in Group Two. Neil was out first on Saturday and he drew first blood for Team USA! He qualified P1 and went on to win his heat , too, later in the day. I was happy that my qualifying session went just as good and I was able to set a decent lap early. Then as the times started dropping, things became a bit more entertaining as another car in the session dropped oil all over the track. This caused a stoppage that left eight minutes at the end of the session. Luckily I set the fast time early because the track conditions never really got back to where they were. I ended up qualifying P1 in my heat, so the Americans were two-for-two! My heat was later on in the day and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. Here I was, starting P1 in my first race outside of North America. I knew everyone back home would be watching. You would think I’d be super-pumped up, right? Wrong. I had never done a standing start in my life! I was a nervous wreck but I figured I’ve watched enough Formula One that I would just do it the way Vettel does it. How hard could that be? Thankfully, I did get a good start and was able to pull out a lead. About halfway through the 14-lap race, a Safety Car period occurred. I was getting a bit anxious again because I knew that I had to get a good restart to build another gap. Everything eventually worked out and I won my heat. Saturday was just a perfect day for the Americans.

Sunday was shaping up to be a great day again. Neil stayed on top in his Semi Final early in the morning. I was in Semi Final 2 and again starting from pole. Unfortunately, I did not have a great start this time, so I fell back to P2. On the second lap going into Druid’s Hairpin after Paddock Hill Bend, there was contact between me and the driver in third place. I was turned around 180 degrees and had to wait for the whole field to pass before I could continue. That, unfortunately, put me back to 24th. I needed to place in the top 14 to secure a position in the final. All I could do was put my head down and fight like heck. I drove as hard as I could. My efforts were successful and I ended up 11th. Not the best, but I was in! For the final, I was starting a dismal 21st after what happened in the semi, but there was no point in whining or complaining. I just had to drive and give it all I had again. I was able to get a good start and started climbing my way up through the field (photo left courtesy of Jeff Bloxham). The battle was getting tougher and tougher lap after lap. The battle for 15th was just as tough, if not tougher, than the battle for the lead. It was incredible! I was able to get up to ninth in the 20-lap race. All in all, not a bad finish considering what had happened. Congratulations to Neil who finished an impressive P3 – a great showing for the Americans! I’d also like to say good job to Spencer in the Duratec class. He was having a bit of tire trouble and I think we all know that Spencer is a great driver, but unfortunately the results didn’t show that.

Before I arrived in the UK, I had heard countless tales of how aggressively the Europeans drive and how much blocking they do. I was expecting it and I have to say, they certainly didn’t disappoint! However, I can honestly say that I truly did enjoy this type of racing. It seemed like real racing to me, where you really had to fight for each and every position. Sure, I would have loved to have been on the podium. But after driving from the back of the pack twice, I do feel like a learned a ton in the short time I was there. When you race with drivers like these, you get a sense of accomplishment just knowing you were able to do some overtaking.

After a great weekend at Brands, it was time to head home and finally go back to school. I hope these next two weeks go by quickly because I cannot wait to return to the UK for the Walter Hayes Trophy race at Silverstone. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Cliff Dempsey Racing again. They are all amazing! I would like to say thank you to Cliff and Michelle and the entire team, as well as Jeremy Shaw and all of the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship program for giving me this awesome opportunity. Without a doubt, this has definitely been the coolest experience of my life!

Until next time…

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