Bridgestone Racing Series Round 3
June 24, 2001
For the third race of the weekend, for some reason it took forever to get me fitted to the car. I was the first to get in my car and the last to be ready. The pedals, the seat and the belts all took an inordinate amount of time to adjust. Part of this is because I'm very particular but to take that long is unusual.
After that ordeal I went out to qualify. The track configuration was also changed. But I liked this one a lot. This was my chance to finally get a good starting position! Each day we drove different cars, selected at random. All the cars have the same specification. But realistically no two are ever exactly the same. It is simply impossible. Inevitably some are a bit better than others.
On this day I got a car that was a beast to drive. Every lap I was missing shifts. A few times I couldn't even find a gear for several seconds. I thought I might have blown the gearbox. So I came in and elected to change cars. Each driver can only do that twice a season. But it was worth it.
It took several minutes to get me fitted, though this time it took a lot less time. I got a few final laps in. I didn't know it would be the last lap at the time but I knew it was my fastest so far that session.
It felt slower and very well controlled. I didn't lock up any of the wheels or slide. The next lap would undoubtedly be faster I thought. But the checkered flag came out and qualifying was over. I was 5th.
The race started ok. Sixth place gave me a run for it but I held him off well and proceeded to chase down 4th place. I pressured him for several laps and he made all sorts of mistakes (I made some too). I was clearly faster but there was only one good place to pass on this track as it was very tight.
On the 6th lap I got a great run on him down the back straight where we reached speeds of 200 km/h (125 mph). At the end of the straight I was right on his gearbox and moved out to pass. It was very clean except I overestimated his speed and overshot my braking point by about 1/10th or 2 of a second.
The car lost traction, started to slide and I became a passenger. My thoughts:
"I'm not going to pass him."
"I'm not going to make this corner."
"I'm going off the track."
"I'm going to hit the wall."
People ask if you get scared. The answer is no. You don't have the time to think of the consequences, which is where fear comes from. But there is a point when all is lost and you say to yourself, "I wish I hadn't done that." Regret is a better word.
The car went into the tire barrier and the wall at an angle. I estimate the impact was about 65 km/h (40 mph). Luckily it didn't hurt and after the crash I pulled the steering wheel out, undid my belts and jumped over the wall to get to safety.
I was sent to the ambulance staff to be checked over. Everything was fine. It was an expensive wreck though. The left front wheel was sitting on the nosecone, suspension broken and the nose cracked in half.
So the weekend ended early for me. Certainly it was disappointing to crash but I'm confident the season will get better. All the faster drivers have had considerably more experience and I will constantly improve. It's just a matter of time.
Overall, I'm pleased because I'm getting better all the time. Everyone makes mistakes (some bigger than others). But one day I'll look back at this one and smile.
Most importantly I want to thank Greg, one of my best friends since we were kids, for coming along, providing moral support and taking great pictures. We just can't seem to stop saying, "Eh"?