My First Race in Spec Miata!
It’s finally time for my first race in Spec Miata! It had been over 3 months since I last competed in a race but I was so excited to get my elbows out again. But this time I wasn't racing a kart, I was in a race car.
Willow Springs is a track I had driven before. In May of 2022 I did my first track day here with Porsche Owners Club in my family’s 1999 Porsche Boxster. To my surprise I set the POC track record in the Stock 6 category. But this weekend was different, I was in a completely different car, and I wasn’t driving for fun, I was here to race.
Willow Springs is often called “Windy Willow” due to the strong winds it gets. The wind this weekend was on a whole different level. An average wind of over 35mph (56 km h) meant that the car behaved completely differently depending on the direction you were going.
Friday consisted of a practice day which went smoothly. The track was far from smooth though. Willow Springs is bumpy and has a very abrasive surface. Halfway through the day I complained to the team that the car was understeering like crazy, turns out there was no rubber left on my tires!
Saturday came as a shock to me. Despite finishing P3 in practice, I was a full 2 seconds off my teammate Cooper. This weekend marked the official start of my rookie year in Spec Miata, meanwhile for Cooper it his fourth season. With such a big gap in experience, I did not expect to be faster than Cooper, but to be 2 seconds off him was shocking. It turns out this weekend was going to be about learning.
Race 1: Chaos
I qualified P3 which put me into a great starting position for the race. Going into the race I wasn’t sure what to expect as the field was very tight. Before the race even started, in front of me, Cooper made contact with a driver named Sophia. She fell back and I was up to P2 at the start. Cooper pulled away from me due to our pace difference and then the race track became a battlefield. All of a sudden I found myself playing a game of chess from 2nd all the way down to 5th. Then I got punted off track.
At this point I thought all hope was lost, but as I checked to make sure everything was ok with the car, I said to myself “screw it, let’s see what we can do.” I knew I had the pace to get back up to second. I managed to catch back up to the field making one pass at a time, then I made the riskiest move of my life putting two wheels in the dirt to get better track position into the next corner. On the last lap I was running in 3rd with the car in 2nd just ahead of me. We had a drag race to the line but he just beat me by a tenth of a second. What a first race!
Racing Should Be Fun
Sunday was pretty uneventful compared to Saturday. I ran in 4th the whole day and throughout the day became more and more frustrated with my lack of pace compared to the people ahead of me. After finishing Race 2 in 4th my race engineer/ driver coach James asked me how my weekend went. To which I responded “it was alright.” He then asked if I had fun, I said “somewhat.” James was disappointed with my answer, it should have been fun. I just finished a weekend of driving race cars. James managed to put a smile on my face at the end of the day despite my personal disappointment and he made me realize you can’t win if you aren't enjoying what you’re doing.
I do love driving and racing! I will be back for more!
Mar 28, 2023
Mar 24-26, 2023