Today I raced the JBRL Finals at the ProLine private test track in Banning CA, a couple of hours east of LA. The track is really great, big, fast, rough and technical. I love it, and…I forgot to take a panorama. This will have to do.
Anyway, this time I had a better deal going into the race, as my American Super Size “Adrien Bertin” showed up, purely for support. Formerly known as World Champion Greg Degani, he is slowly accepting, and easing into his new role of American “Adrien Bertin”. Step one was to get my engine program sorted out. A few texts to Ryan Maifield, and some finger waving and yelling at me, and I put a bigger 7.5 venturi in that thing, S manifold 2104 on the Worlds Edition, Greg leaned it out, and boom we had some more power. He stopped calling it a turd and began showing my REDS some respect.
“quit pussying that section” and he asked me “why I am so slow over there”, told me to “drive faster”.
Next “AAB” took issue with my driving. The thing about Degani is that he is pretty brutal and honest with his feedback, kind of like me. Basically he told me to “quit pussying that section” and he asked me “why I am so slow over there”, told me to “drive faster”. Brutal. It’s good to have someone point out where you are being a bit shit, this way you can focus your efforts there. On the other hand, it makes the praise, although rare, much more rewarding. I did get a “WTF happened, you looked like Maifield out there, rippin’. I have never seen you drive like that before!”. I could have packed up right then. I’m done, I did a good couple of laps.
Anyway, qualifying was good again. I feel like I should have TQed, my car was SO good. I just made a couple of stupid mistakes. I clearly had the pace, but Adam Drake got the TQ and I ended up 2nd. But that’s still good, as behind me we had Harris, King and Herzig. Going into the main, the only thing that I was thinking about was the springs, should I run my own grey springs, or stick with the HB Yellow. I didn’t change, but in the main the track was already really bumpy in places, and I think I should have changed. Regardless of that, the car was still good, and I had a good race. I ended up 3rd, but I led for a couple of laps, I mixed it up with Drake and King, and probably looked like I belonged up there.
Right now, the thing is, that I am trying to break into this top group of drivers, and at this moment I can every once in a while be up there for a moment, but two things still need to happen. 1. I need to gain the respect of the top guys. 2. I need to mentally feel like I belong up there. Let me explain.
- If you are in a race, regardless of talent level, but more so the higher up the rankings you go, if there is someone ahead of you that you view as clearly inferior to you as a driver, you won’t have the same patience, and show the same respect to them that you would to someone you regard as equal, or almost equal to you, not to mention better than you. I do it too, let’s say I’m in a main in Finland, where I know I can win, and I have a couple of tough competitors, and I feel like I got the other guys covered, easy. Well if one of those “inferior” guys are ahead of me, and my competition is getting away, I will be impatient, and aggressive, because I feel like I “deserve” to be ahead of this guy. Even if I don’t take the guy out, it’s still a different situation. Well you can bet that if I’m ahead of these top guys in any future race they will be thinking “not this effing guy” and they won’t hesitate to muscle by me. Davide Ongaro has been going through the same thing, but maybe now with the Worlds performance he is “in”.
- Another thing is all in my own head. If I’m out there thinking wtf I just passed this guy, or I’m catching that guy, I’m not focused 100% on my driving. I need to be comfortable racing better drivers than me, and eventually hopefully, on the given day, realise that today at this track I am as good as this guy, or better than that guy. I need to feel like I belong, and gain confidence, and drive with it. Sort of “I don’t give a shit, I’m just going to go wide open here and beat you.”
Anyway, these races have been good for building confidence, and learning more about the car, and my driving. Next week I have one more race, and then I head to China, in order to prepare everything for 2017. It’s now 6 or 7 months since I publicly announced on here that the car is good enough, I need to focus on my driving, no excuses, let’s see what I can do. After banging my head in the wall all this time, finally I am beginning to see some improvement. I am driving better in a race situation, and I’m able to turn faster laps. In qualifying, when I hear the announcer I am able to push more, and take more risks to do a faster lap. I just have to keep on pushing for that faster lap and see what happens. I am looking forward to next year, and hope I can put in a good result or two.