Damn, there wasn't a lot to do today, which was a bummer because we got all fired up with some decent and pretty fast action yesterday. We got up Tuesday morning to really cold weather, like the low 40s, and I had a morning interview with a news channel, live at my bus at 8:45, so I was up early to go to the gym at 6:30, went back, did the interview, had a shower and went over to the garage. There was drizzly rain on and off, and the temperature meant it wasn't evaporating at all.
I think the only car that went on track was Conway's, and they had Marco shake the car down for him because Mike's been struggling to get up to speed. Other than that, I don't think anyone went on track because the conditions weren't what we're looking for, and not what we expect for either Pole Day or Bump Day.
So I hung around the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing garage, looking at our lovely WIX Filters car and wishing I was in it, but realizing there was no point in being out there. So I was just jacking around, working on this new Stilo helmet, putting the Motegi Racing decals on it and making a few detail changes on it that I want to try.
After that, I came back to the bus and, lo and behold, Townsend was there again, on the couch, with a Herbalife shake in his hand. He'd gone to the store to get various fruit like strawberries and bananas and stuff and bought himself this magic bullet cocktail shaker. He tried to win me over by making me one of these Townsend Bell Herbalife Specials – don't know if he's patented it yet. Anyway, that was…nice.
Other than that...I don't know how detailed you want these blogs to be…we went to the laundromat and, guess what – did a load of laundry. While we were there, we decided to take a drive over to Mark One Composites because I've been looking for a steering wheel from them to use for the rest of the season. It's a pretty cool carbon fiber wheel (LEFT) that looks like it's come out of the Batmobile, and while we were there, they showed me a brand-new Formula 1 simulator (BELOW).
It's a $400k machine that I think Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team use, so I got on that. Didn't enjoy it – it's got a full-blown seven-post hydraulic unit on it, the real deal, but all the motion is exaggerated and it gave me motion-sickness. I remember reading that Michael Schumacher had similar problems; it kinda leaves you disoriented and sick to your stomach, and I couldn't do it for more than a lap. I tried Indy on it, which obviously wasn't too bad, but then I tried Watkins Glen and Abu Dhabi and I was just weirded out. I can appreciate the work – the steering feel and braking feel are great – but the motion of it, vertically and back and forth, was way too much.
Then I headed back to the track, and my engineer Yves had just finished for the day, so I took him to dinner and we discussed what our plan is for today if the weather's OK. We'll try and run fairly low downforce and see what it feels like but the track will still be fairly green and the weather looks like we could be stopping and starting all day. It'll be important to pick the right time to go, after a few cars have put some rubber down on track.
I've got yet another set of tires in the bank now, but because everyone's practice has been so screwed around by the weather, Yves was saying the rumor is that Firestone may be about to allow people to buy extra sets. Whatever, we now have two sets stacked away that we didn't think we'd have. The other benefit for me with all these weather issues is that I'm one of the more experienced drivers so I don't think you'll have to wait for me to get up to speed, and the Dreyer & Reinbold team has a pretty good handle on what we have. So people like me or Dario or Dixon aren't going to suffer through rain outs; stick us in qualifying trim and we'll go do whatever it takes. But you're not going to stick a Scott Speed or a Ho-Pin Tung out there at minus-four-degree rear wing and expect miracles; just ain't gonna happen. So from that standpoint, it's almost a benefit to have less practice before qualifying because I've got like an built-in data bank to draw on.
Obviously, that wouldn't be true if we were struggling and if we had a bad car; we'd need the practice. But we're fine, as we proved on Monday. I tell you, the WIX Filters car was really good yesterday, and every change we made did exactly what we were expecting. Yves had a really nice test planned out, with things that he thought were going to improve the car, and sure enough, every change we made got the car better and better. My last lap of the day was my fastest, and that was with 27 laps on the tires, so I was really, really encouraged with how we ended up. The Dreyer & Reinbold cars are quick. We were running race downforce and I can say for sure now that I've never had a car that felt this comfortable running up close with other cars. Previously, I've had cars that just felt on edge, like you had to hold your breath if you were running a different line to get around another car. But no, this car just seems settled and predictable.
So…fingers crossed for good weather Wednesday. I'm off to enjoy my bus while I have it to myself.