As promised in my last update, I share with you an opportunity that I really never thought would happen. Growing up watching every kind of racing I could, in truth, I really loved it all but for whatever reason, I was always especially drawn to the SCCA Trans-Am Series cars. Maybe its because they’re easy to identify with because they look like cars you see on the road everyday? Maybe it’s because they’re just as raw as any race car can be without the help of any electronic driver aids and have a ton of ground-shaking horse power? It’s really hard to say but I know that I’ve always loved them and have always dreamed of driving them.
Thanks to my longtime friend Ernie Becker, earlier this year I was introduced to Stevens-Miller Racing’s principle Joe Stevens. As most team owners are that I’ve met, Joe is a dynamic and really smart guy, full of personal drive and really on top of things. He also is a businessman and like all businesses, race teams run on dollars. Though I knew I was capable of driving one of his cars, I never thought I’d have the resources to actually get the opportunity to sit in one.
A short time ago an opportunity came about and I was able to meet up with the Stevens-Miller Race Team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, just outside of Mansfield, Ohio. Meeting up with the teams’ lead-driver Marc Miller I began familiarizing myself with their USA Automotive-Berryman Ford Mustang. Steven, Tate and the rest of the SMR-guys made me feel very welcomed and with Rick Talbot of Prefix Racing Engines on sight, I knew we’d have all the technical support I’d need.
This was a car fresh off the chassis-jigs of Howe Racing so Marc took the car out first to make sure everything shook down the way it should. From there it was time to suit up and get my first experience in one of these powerful machines. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat in anything that made me nervous so on this morning, reminding myself to keep taking deep breaths was the order of the day.
After discussions with Marc and the crew, we decided to divide my time into a few short 6-10 lap runs. I’d go out, make some laps, then come back to pit road and tell them what I thought of my driving and the car, then head back out to do it again. By morning’s end, we’d made a couple of runs and it was time for lunch during which, team driver Ethan Wilson gave me some helpful tips in coming to grips with the car. 2018 has been Ethan’s “rookie season” so he had some great insight as to what I was experiencing for the first time. Between he, Marc, Prefix engine-man Rick and all the SMR guys, I felt really well supported and free to lean on the car to see what I could get out of it.
By days end, I think my first taste of Trans-Am went as good as I could have hoped for. I was able to get a real sense of what these cars are like to dive, I was able to get down to some very respectful times around the track and by anyone’s account it was a very successful day.
Moving forward, Steve Sharp (the teams’ Marketing Director), Joe and I are working hard together to put a program in place that could possibly see me back in one of their cars for the last race of this year and through out the 2019 season. We’re trying very hard to get some sponsors on board that will allow us to use the SMR car, the race team and the Trans-Am series to help promote companies marketing programs for 2019 and beyond.
Next up on our racing-agenda will be the World Racing League’s 2-day event at Barber Motorsports Park. I’ll fill you all in on how that went asap.
Thanks for reading this and I’ll talk to you soon…