In the past Month and a half, I’ve competed in two race weekends in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series as well as made a trip to Austria for the FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy.  It has been a busy and successful time and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you. In racing, it is not always about what you learn in the driver’s seat, but also about what you learn off the track that makes you stand out from the rest. I have used my time at the track wisely, making sure to utilize the free time I have to its fullest extent.

Watkins Glen International was host to rounds 5 and 6 of the Prototype Lites series. I have never been there and was pleasantly surprised at how amazing the track was. I was able to come away with a track record and both wins. The first race was a tight one as the top 5 all ran nose to tail. But with the second race being a rain race, it separated the field a bit more. I loved the track’s fast flowing corners and would say it has become my new favorite track. This weekend we did something different off the track, we set up a table with hero cards and Donate Life flyers on it. Donate Life is an organ donation awareness program that we are promoting and also sharing our story to influence more people to become organ donors. My mom had a heart transplant 6 months ago and we wanted to make a difference since organ donation isn’t as well-known as you may think. The table proved to be a success, generating lots of interaction among fans passing by, allowing us to inform them about our cause and encourage them to register as a donor if they weren’t already.

Our next race was at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for rounds 7 and 8 of Prototype Lites season. I will tell you, this track is a physical one that really tests your endurance. With the average speed above 120 MPH, and pulling 2.7-2.8 G-Forces around turns 1, 2, and 8, all of which are long duration corners, your arms and neck are getting a huge workout. Overall, I was able to produce a win and a second place finish, both of which I was very happy with. We put out a table to promote Donate Life, which worked out great once again. I also had few interviews and was able to share my story of how the Mazda Ladder system has gotten me to where I am today. It has been a great journey with Mazda so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Last but not least, I made the trip to Austria for another workshop with the FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy. The previous workshop was in Germany where we learned about who we were as a person and about basic driving skills. Here we learned specifically about road safety and how we could help cut down on deaths by traffic accidents. From the driving aspect, we did drills to emphasize road safety so we further understood the importance, such as stopping distances between a truck, bike, and car, as well as going into detail on blind spots on trucks. I could go on a bit more about some other things, but we eventually did a hot lap and slalom competition which was fun and I was able to come out on top. The purpose of the workshop was for us to learn how to become road safety ambassadors, so at the end of the workshop, all the drivers had to come up with a presentation on road safety. We all spoke about what we had learned and also demonstrated what we talked about using cars and a skid pad. It was an eye opening experience and boy was it fun!

Next week we continue with rounds 9 and 10 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series at Road America, another one of my favorite tracks. I have had good luck there in the past and hope to continue that luck! The next and last workshop will be in Paul Ricard, France at the beginning of September. This workshop will focus on advanced driving techniques and include lots of competitions, and they will also announce the winner of the academy. The winner doesn’t receive anything, but it is more of a prestigious award that shows that you beat out some of the best in the world. It is not about who is the fastest, but who the best all-around driver is, both inside and out of the car. Drivers in the past who have won have gone on do to do great things. This season has been filled with amazing experiences and I can’t wait to see what happens next!