I was selected by the United States National Sporting Association to compete in a selection event that the FiA organizes. This event was hosted in Puebla, Mexico at the Autodromo De Puebla “Miguel E. Abed,” which is a track and place I have never been before. The cultural emersion was unlike I have ever experienced. I enjoyed the experience of being in Mexico and also meeting the other 11 finalists. We were competitors but we treated each other as friends and were all there to do one thing, to compete. The sportsmanship was on an entirely new level. The physical, mental, and technical skills involved in racing were all put to the test. I miss it already. The tests in this event were to help the association select one winner to represent the Americas in the elite FiA Academy in Europe. The Academy in Europe will be spread out over five separate weeks throughout Europe. We will go through the same things we did at the selection event but more thoroughly.
The culture and people were amazing in Mexico. Puebla was a city with streets not big enough for the public to fit on. So the sidewalks were crowded and the one-way streets were always packed full of cars doing whatever they wanted. I also found out why there aren’t many VW Beatles in the United States; they’re all in Mexico. The city was incredible and the architecture was surreal. The town we were staying in was very old. How they managed to build what they did in that period is beyond me. Cathedrals are every few blocks and they all are beautiful. The attention to detail was incredible. I really miss the people and architecture of the town and wished I could have explored more, but I did get a chance to try a true Mexican taco…let me tell you, Chipotle isn’t even close.
The competitors were all truly gifted, but they were also very genuine people. We all bonded pretty quickly and began to joke around and learn about each other’s culture. The sportsmanship between us all was something that I had never experienced before. Everyone cheered everyone on and pushed each other to do better. We all helped each other to improve. With this competition being pretty substantial I was expecting people to be up tight and very serious, but it was the exact opposite. The friends I made at this event taught me a lot about how to be a better person and to always have fun no matter the circumstances; after all, we are driving race cars.
They evaluated our physical fitness, psychological strength, as well as our ability to drive. The first day we did a psychological test that I fared well on, since I have been doing mental training this year. I had trained myself using a game called Lumosity and I also utilized some tips that Dr. Jacques Dellaire had stated in a video on SAFEisFast.com. I was able do pretty well in the fitness test too. They tested our flexibility, endurance, and core strength. We were on track all three days and were able to drive a considerable amount. On the last day they chose the top six of the 12 to do a shootout to see who the winner was. They combined two courses to change up the circuit, which made it extremely fun. There was added pressure of going out last on the final day. I was able to conquer the pressure and put down a lap that was fastest by just .003. The judges were very impressed with my ability to focus and perform under pressure, they told me, which was great to hear.
The whole experience was great and I already miss Mexico and the new friends I made. I have taken away a lot of knowledge about myself as a driver and as a person throughout this past week. I will now be going to Europe to attend another FiA academy that is held in five different countries over a period of five separate weeks. Starting at the end of the November through to July is when these Academies will be held. I will be competing against nine other drivers from around the world. I’ll be competing against those who won their respective selection event.
The perks racing has given me are incredible; traveling the world is something that I have always wanted to do and to go drive at the same time just puts the cherry on top. I can’t thank the FiA Institute enough for providing these wonderful opportunities for drivers to prove themselves, and along with that a fun experience.