Livengood: New Year, New Car
Well, VIR was rather anticlimactic, for me anyways. That’s racing though, and while the weekend was disappointing from a results standpoint there was plenty of good things to have come of it. Most importantly, I was with good friends and family and despite race car problems had a really great time. The weather was beautiful, the track at VIR is always a pleasure, and it was just great to be back at the track with all the characters I have somehow grown to enjoy.
My weekend, as I’m sure many have noticed, though it may have been easier to not notice was one spent wondering around near the bottom of the charts. On the finishing order I languished outside the top ten both days struggling with an unknown electrical issue. This didn’t stop me from setting the third fastest time of Saturday’s race, though this is admittedly a meager reward for what was a monumental and rather grueling car build that spanned less than six full days. The build produced a rather well put together car and the lads at the shop did an amazing job getting such a tidy finished product. It should not be forgotten that the anonymous electrical gremlin never appeared until the final session during the Friday/final test day, leaving us in quite a sticky and ultimately never resolvable spot.
While the VIR weekend going may have been tough, I do not believe it has slowed any of us down under the John Walko Racing Tent. In fact, we’ve been extra hungry to delve into the car and not only find the hidden electrical gremlin but also further develop the Ralph Firman Racing chassis. Even if our data shows that we had serious electrical issues, it also shows lots of laps where I thoroughly thrashed the car around every turn and through every brake zone. This in turn is helping shed new light on the development of the car, and this I argue is what I aim to do.
In 2010 and 2011, together with the Bruce Work, my father Dave, and John Walko we assembled traditional equipment, sorted out the well known issues, and fielded that equipment at the front. For 2012, I was no longer interested in this plan. I had experience with an RFR chassis and saw its potential, and in testing it destroyed the fastest lap set by Mrs. Draper (my Van Diemen). After this, I was convinced that further development of the car was required. As I am a fool for punishment, the decision had been made in my mind. My 2012 goal would be to act in a roll in which I would develop the RFR, or not race at all.
The truth is that I want to be forced into digging hard and using my brain. I want to gain the respect of my peers by facing an uphill challenge and doing my best to overcome that, not by taking the easy way out. Some others do not seem to mind going after wins by spending money on the package they believe they need to win, but the guys I respect are those who make a stand, who leave their pocketbook in their pocket, and they use hard work and determination to prove that they have talent and smarts. This is what the guys under the JWR tent are like, and these are the guys I want to be like.
With preparation for Atlanta well underway I feel a lot more at ease. VIR helped form a nice picture of where the field stands this year. Lots of tops guys have decided to take on the season much as I have and as a result the picture is a very interesting, if not momentarily askew post VIR. I look forward to Road Atlanta. The track itself is incredible and it can really separate the men from the boys. Combined with the gears of development, those of which on the older equipment is likely slowing, the racing should as always be very rich.
See you in the suburbs,