The Bridgestone Academy was probably the best 16th birthday present that I could have ever asked for. Friday morning, I showed up at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Driver Development Track eager to learn and ready to get on track. After some class time I hopped in the cockpit of the F2000 Van Diemen, got fitted in the car and had a fantastic time. The weather wasn't warm or dry, but it was still a time to remember. I had expected a huge difference in the driving a kart and a car, but surprisingly the only substantial I had to deal with was the clutch and working a gearbox.
I mean, suspension was nice for a change, but I was focusing on figuring out how to start moving from a stop. It took a while, but I got it eventually, having had only one chance to practice driving car with manual transmission before the Academy. Three days later and there was passing, racing, and experiences I'll never ever forget. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I wouldn't protest whatsoever... it was that great of a time. The facility was fantastic, the track layout was a great combination of technical and high-speed corners, and the teachers did a great job of getting everyone up to speed.
After that experience, I was lucky enough to be one of three candidates selected by Move Motorsports and CASC-OR to be a part of the Toyo Tires F1600 Karts to Cars program. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I had with them. I had some PR sessions, learned more about the series and met the people behind it, before getting some seat time.
Besides shifting and feeling the brake balance a lot more, I was surprised how it wasn't all that different from a kart. Maybe that was due to the less than ideal weather conditions, and it'll be different later, but for the time being some of my initial worries have been set aside. I've also done an additional test with Brian Graham Racing, where I got comfortable in the Piper 5.0 at Shannonville. Although the weather was also not ideal, both days have been life-changing experiences for me. Until recently, even though it has always been my goal to transition into cars, it didn't feel as if it would come to fruition. Now that it's in sight, I'm more driven than ever to make it work.
As the end of my season comes to a close, there are of course some people I have to thank that have made my racing endeavors possible. To my dad, I'm sorry I made fun of having you as my mechanic all year but given that you helped me win the MIKA Championship; I guess you did a good job. As well thank you to the rest of my family, for being ever supportive of my goals, along with not hating the 5am wakeups too much. My sponsors, Inside Track, JRP and Arai Americas, also deserve a huge thank you for all they've done for me.
I am so appreciative of their support, because without them I wouldn't be able to purse this dream of mine. And to anyone else who supports me, whether it is a friend, colleague, teammate, or follower. For every time you've got my back, I'm so incredibly thankful. As I move into cars, your support will be more important than ever.
With the snow falling occasionally, it's indicative of my 2014 season being over, and I'm pretty sure it was my best yet. Next year I look to be a contender in the Rotax Senior division, do some more testing in the F1600 and who knows what other exciting things are in store. I guess only time will tell... see you on track!