Skip Barber National drivers Spencer Pigot and Felix Serralles recently were named 2010's representatives of the Team USA Scholarship program, which provides fully paid entries in the the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone in October and November. They're blogging for RACER about their experiences in the program.
Just over a week ago I was at Road Atlanta for the final rounds of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Series Presented by Mazda. I won one race and the championship!
I was also awarded the Team USA Scholarship award along with my friend Felix Serralles. It's a prize that's given to two of the best up-and-coming American drivers and allows us to race in the British Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy Race at Silverstone in a Cliff Dempsey Racing-prepared Formula Ford 1600. It's a great honor to be over here representing my country as well as being on a list of Team USA Scholarship winners who have gone on to win major championships and races such as the Indianapolis 500. I'm really looking forward to this experience and trying to continue the winning streak of the scholarship drivers in the recent years!
The week before flying to the UK, I was extremely busy getting caught up with the schoolwork I missed while I was at Road Atlanta. I had to take my SATs the morning I left for England. Felix and I were both on the same flight since we live relatively close to each other in Florida. It was a really long flight through the night and I didn't manage to get much rest. We got to England on Sunday morning at about 6:30 a.m. and the lady at customs almost didn't let us in! She didn't believe the fact that we were in England to race, so I had to explain to her all about the Team USA Scholarship and she eventually let us in after about five minutes.
From there we went straight to Brands Hatch to watch the British Touring Car Championship, which was really cool! There was a huge crowd because it was the final rounds of the BTCC and the championship was still being fought between a few drivers. The races were very exciting and it gave us a chance to see the track up close and the winner of the Ginetta Cup races, Carl Breeze, passed on some hints about the circuit.
Since then, we've been on the track walk with Peter Dempsey, which was very helpful because he has driven around the track many times in a Formula Ford. He gave us a lot of good tips. My car didn't arrive until about 9:30 p.m., but it looks great and I can't wait to drive it. I don't have long to wait: We start testing early Tuesday morning!
Ever since the announcement at Road Atlanta that I was one of the winners of the Team USA Scholarship, I've been very excited to come to England. In fact, I could barely get any sleep at night, because I was looking forward and anxious to head over to England.
It was a long flight here from Florida, and as soon as I stepped out of the plane, I could already feel that famous British weather – COLD! – and I only had a light sweater. After getting all our luggage, Cliff Dempsey picked us up. It's his team that will run our cars in the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy races.
Spencer and I had two big suitcases, so my first view of England was while scrunched up in the trunk of Cliff's car, while Cliff and Spencer sat all comfortable in the car! Seriously, why would I mind? I was too excited to be in England for this golden opportunity.
We went to Brands Hatch, and among the track action, we saw the British Touring Cars. For sedans, those cars are unbelievably fast. Then Spencer and I went around and met a variety of other people, including Carl Breeze who's a former winner of the Formula Renault championship in the UK, and now races a Ginetta Cup car, and Colin Mann who is the PR Manager. In all, it was a good start to our trip.
The next day we got to sleep in, before hitting the gym and then the team collected us to take us to the race shop to get our seats fitted and belts adjusted – the usual stuff. Tuesday was our first day on track, and although the track was very green at first, those first laps around Brands Hatch were a lot of fun. The elevation changes in the track are just incredible! Paddock Bend is my favorite corner at Brands Hatch.
We got at least 100 or more laps in today and only had a few mechanical issues that were resolved easily and quickly. And the great thing is, we still have three more testing days! By the end of the week, I'm pretty confident Spencer and I will be running near the top of the charts!
This is a great opportunity, I'm very grateful the Team USA Scholarship's founder, Jeremy Shaw, Cliff Dempsey, of course, and all the sponsors.
• Follow the Team USA Scholarship drivers on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-USA-Scholarship/153950467979290