So far England has been a lot of fun between races. I've spent about two weeks with the Cliff Dempsey Racing team, helping out at the shop and with my car, which is finally finished as of Thursday. Peter Dempsey and Cliff have been really great and I can't wait for the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone next weekend.
Yesterday we had a tour of Lola and iSport International. They were both very interesting and I learned a lot from Lola, particularly the fact they are into areas outside of racing, such as aerospace, defense and communications. Sam Smith was the guy who showed us everything…well only what we were allowed to see!
It was great to finally see what a wind tunnel looks like (it's a 45 percent scale one), but it was unfortunate that we didn't get to see it working because they were doing some maintenance on it. Another cool thing they showed us was the 7-post test rig, and how it's utilized. They even showed how it simulated a lap around Silverstone.
Later that day we visited iSport International, a GP2 racing team that has won championhips with Timo Glock and Davide Valsecchi. Unfortunately we didn't get to see much equipment because they had already packed up for their next race in Abu Dhabi. The good thing is that we met with Paul Jackson, the team principal. He took us around the shop and showed us their simulators, some parts for the new car. In 2011, GP2 cars will look much more like the current Formula 1 cars, with that long rear bodywork shape.
So both tours were very useful, so thank you to Jeremy Shaw for arranging them. We've thoroughly enjoyed this down-time, feeling more and more a part of Cliff Dempsey's gang. I'm really hopeful we're going to give each other something to smile about next weekend at Silverstone…
The past few days have been a lot of fun. We have gone to a football (soccer!) match, raced go-karts, and visited Lola Cars as well as iSport International. Unfortunately we haven't been able to do anymore testing in the Kent cars to prepare for the Walter Hayes Trophy Race in a few weeks time. The tracks have changed their schedules for the days we were planning on testing. Thankfully, we will have quite a lot of practice time at Silverstone on the weekend of the event.
I was able to find tickets to go see Manchester United play a Carling Cup match earlier on this week. I am a huge fan and so is Peter Dempsey so we got four tickets and Felix, Cliff, Peter, and myself all went. The first half was a little boring and there were no goals but the second half was great! In the end United won 3-2 with a very late goal and the stadium went crazy! It was an awesome way to end the match. The next night we did a charity go-kart race for 21&CO Charity. It was Felix, Emma Dempsey, and I. The kart we were assigned was a little slow but it was still a lot of fun. We ended up finishing third and were able to help a charity so it was a good night.
On Thursday we went on two tours, one of Lola Cars and then GP2 Championship- winning team iSport International. When we got to Lola there was one of Sebastien Bourdais' Champ Cars and a very old Lola that ran at the Indianapolis 500 sitting in the lobby.
Sam Smith who is in charge of the marketing side of Lola took us through the entire factory. We got to see the 45% scale wind tunnel, the shaker rig, the ovens where they cure the carbonfiber, and we also got a quick explanation of CAD which is a program on the computer which allows the designers to test new aerodynamic pieces much quicker and cheaper than testing them in the wind tunnel.
It was really interesting and I learnt a lot of new information about how cars are built and a lot about the company in general. Not only do they build racecars but the also build unmanned aircraft for the government which was really neat to learn about.
In the afternoon we went to see iSport. The team principal Paul Jackson showed us around the shop and we got a chance to check out their simulator, which looked a lot of fun to drive. We also saw bits and pieces of the new 2011 GP2 car, awaiting to be assembled. We are heading over to Ireland tonight to spend a few days at the Dempsey's house before we fly back over to England next week for some more tours.
Thanks to Lola and iSport for taking us around their facilities and the Team USA Scholarship for organizing everything. This trip continues to be a great education outside of the cockpit as well as in it!