It's been a while since I last reported on my life via blog but there has been a lot of fantastic stuff going on recently so here it is...
First of all I hope everyone has had a great 2013 so far – I know I have! Since my first IndyCar test with the A.J. Foyt race team in December at Sebring, life has been really good. That was one of the greatest days of my life getting the chance to drive an Indycar for the first time. I will be forever thankful for A.J. and Larry Foyt giving me such an amazing opportunity. I've grown up at the Indy 500 and have always been present at Indy car races whenever I could be so to get a chance to actually drive one of those cars meant a lot to me. What made it even cooler was to be on track at the same time as some of the guys that I've watched race for so long and some of my good friends!
I was using one of Mike Conway's seats and it actually fit me quite well after some trimming around the shoulder area because I have extremely broad shoulders for some reason. The first thing I noticed about the car is that you can see A LOT from the cockpit. In open-wheel cars drivers usually sit as low as possible, and I asked the team when doing the seat fit if I needed to be a lot lower. They said I looked fine in the car and I was amazed because I could see so much, it was actually really nice!
Before getting in the car at Sebring in the morning James Hinchcliffe said he was going to judge my burnout leaving the pits. Indy car drivers always do gnarly burnouts leaving the pits and I of course wanted to join in on the fun. When I was strapped in the car ready to do my first installation lap, there was Hinch in the pit box in front of me with a very cheeky look on his face. I then planted my foot and laid down as much rubber and smoke as I possibly could. I must say this was an incredibly satisfying experience!
The morning went really well, we seemed to get on pace quite quickly, which I was very happy about. It was all about getting used to the car and then seeing what I could help the team with for the upcoming season. I was fortunate enough to get to drive the car so my goal was to help the team as much as possible since testing is so limited these days. We started working through some of the things they wanted to test and we then tried to fine tune the balance to what I liked. I was struggling with some brake release over steer mid corner. We were working hard to sort it out but on our last new set of tires in the afternoon we still had the problem. For the final run of the day we made another change different to what Conway had preferred all throughout 2012 and sure enough, it suited my driving style perfectly! The car was driving beautifully on our last run but unfortunately we didn't have any new tires left to really try and push for a quick time. I was a little disappointed because we weren't able to demonstrate our true pace that day but it was a great feeling to get the car sorted and feeling fantastic at the end of the day.
I had a great time working with the Foyt team and they were all very supportive. The car was a lot of fun. The brakes were fantastic, the Honda engine sounded incredible and the gearbox was very nice! The shifts were smoother than I've ever felt before which was very impressive. I would love the opportunity to work with the team again sometime in the future!
So that was pretty cool, I am very thankful for all the opportunities I've had so far and all the great things ahead! I had a great time from December on to when I left the States a couple weeks ago at St. Vincent's Sports Performance focusing on training for the season. After many weeks of hard work every day, I feel fitter than ever heading into 2013!
Things started happening earlier than ever for me in late January when the Skip Barber Racing School called me to come help judge the first IndyCar Academy shootout in Sebring. It was a great opportunity to help some aspiring drivers and enjoy a bit of warm weather.
I must say, though, what really made that weekend awesome was a quick trip down to Miami on Saturday night to have some dinner with my friends Marco Andretti and Big Neal Glover. I texted Marco earlier in the day to see what he was up to because I knew he was in Miami and he was kind enough to invite me down to have some dinner. Marco is a good dude, always takes care of his friends.
I showed up at the restaurant and we sat down at a table for 12 or so. All of his friends hadn't quite shown up yet so I figured I'd ask who is coming to see if I knew anyone else. Shortly after hearing who was coming he said that "Luda" just got here as well... Now I know Marco is good friends with the rapper Ludacris and a lot of pretty big celebrities but I had no idea he would be coming to hangout with us!
I have to admit it was pretty cool getting to meet Luda. He's a really nice guy and I of course talked to him about the new Fast and the Furious movie because those are my favorite movies of all time (go figure, I drive a Subaru STI). It was a great time laughing and catching up with Neal, Marco and chatting with some new acquaintances as well. I felt very insignificant at a table of large-scale baller's like Marco and Luda but I thoroughly enjoyed it and have to thank Marco again for dinner! He said as soon as I sign any big contracts for IndyCar or F1 that I'm paying, hah! I'm cool with that.