New Orleans, home of jazz and the famous bourbon street, and just south is the 2.74 mile track at NOLA Motorsports Park where rounds 3 and 4 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda were hosted. This weekend we were a support series for IndyCar and ran alongside the Mazda Road to Indy series, such as ProMazda and USF2000. There were 82 Mazda powered cars fielded this weekend, again proving that on any given weekend, more Mazda’s are road raced than any other brand.
The Races: After qualifying for Race 1 in wet conditions, I found myself on pole. The race went well as I was able to take the win, but it ended up finishing under caution after a pretty big pile up after going green during a restart. The first caution was caused by a car going into the wall on the exit of the last corner, but it was the 5 car pileup during the restart that ended our race. Thankfully none of the other drivers were injured in these incidents. I was happy with the win but disappointed we couldn’t get more racing in, but a win is a win. I started on pole for Race 2 for a very, VERY wet race. I sure was glad I started out front because I don’t know how anyone could see behind me! A couple of cars spun off and made contact after 3 laps of racing, putting us under caution and eventually the race was cut short due to the rain being too severe. Before the caution flew I was able to build a 10 second gap to second and claimed the win as we finished under red flag conditions.
Off Track: On Thursday prior to the race weekend, I had the chance to go to the Ochsner Cancer Center in New Orleans to visit with some kids. Along with Simona De Silvestro and David Ostella, we went room to room talking with the kids and making their days brighter. I really enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to work with Racing For Kids again.
I was also given the chance to talk on a SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia, a sports radio station in New Orleans. We had a blast talking about how the racing world worked and what it took to become a successful racing driver. He didn’t realize I was a racing driver until I told him so, because he didn’t think someone of my height could fit in one. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
What’s Next: Next weekend at the Long Beach Grand Prix I will be spotting for SpeedSource and will possibly spot for them again at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the first weekend of May. On April 25th I will be at the Donate Life Run/Walk in Irvine encouraging more people become organ donors. My mother recently received a heart from a donor and thanks to that donor she has her life, so we will be sharing our story to help influence others to register as organ donors. At the end of May I will be heading to Germany to attend the FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy Workshop, then at the end of June I will be at Watkins Glen for rounds 5 and 6 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda.