Hello I’m Fast Matt and welcome to what I’m calling View From The Top; a series of articles of how I see the world of F2000 (F2k) racing. If you know me, you know why I call it the View From the Top. For those that don’t know me, I’m always looking to widen my fan base so let me introduce myself.
I have been involved in driving F2k racing cars for close to ten years. I have raced against names like Sellers, Bomarito, Prendaville, Gue, Kimball and Hildebrand. Less “famous” but just as talented drivers like Drake, Fierberg, Morgan and some guy named Audette – more about him later. I have fast laps, podiums, a runner up championship and a championship (2006 F2000 Series). I’ve driven multiple F2k chassis – and currently, I’m the development driver for the new Radon Sport F2k car. In the class, I’ve done it all. I’m a sarcastic comedian who often speaks too much. Therefore, I think, View From The Top is a good title for my little corner. You will love it or hate it and hopefully come back for more either way.
The purpose of View From the Top will be to provide some insight into professional F2k racing from the drivers point of view – induction for freshmen, advice, criticism, field questions and maybe some experiences from Radon Sport testing. For this first article though two recent events need to be covered.
I met Dan Wheldon in March of 2002. He won the series championship a couple years before and was the drivers coach for what was then, my first year of pro racing in F2k. He came into the transporter, debriefed me and we chatted a little about his race plans for that year.
It was kind of a weird interaction – my laps were slow and he was doing his duty as a coach and pretty much gave me the basics. One of our mechanics happened to know his karting mechanic and joined the conversation and you could see Dan relax a lot more. After about ten minutes he turned to me and gave me more advice than I could process. It was fantastic. If you talk to anyone that was involved with Dan’s time in F2k – there is one expression: Dan was the man.
That’s how it was. He was the guy that was going places from the series, so instantly; I became a fan and a follower. In the following years I would say hi at the track – follow the races, always routing for Dan. I hadn’t seen him for a while until last year at Watkins Glen. He was walking with his wife and holding his new baby. We talked for a few minutes and he apologized for not representing F2k in the IRL recently the way it should be.
I laughed and told him no worries, he’s got a 500 win that makes up for it, and some times, there’s only so much we can do as drivers. We talked a little longer and he came back to the F2k paddock to see an old friend, Jon Baytos – the man who gave him his start in America. That was the last time I saw Dan - back joking around where it started. The news of Dan’s passing was heartbreaking – an absolute shock. Many of us who rode on Dan’s shoulder and lived the dream through him for so many years will miss him greatly. Dan will always be the man.
On the flipside of the coin, another F2000 Championship Series is in the books. Remy Audette, a Quebecois, from Canada was crowned 2011 Champion even before the last race of the year. I raced against Remy in 2009 and we had a fantastic dice until the car got away from me and almost took us both out of the race. This year, Remy was the class of the field. There are many factors that go into winning a championship – and Remy executed it perfectly. Pace, consistency, professionalism. That, and everyone else kept hitting each other.
Remy and I get along very well – he speaks more English than most people think and his approach to racing is very serious. I like that about Remy. I don’t think he’ll continue in formula cars unless it’s a good situation. His brother races sedans and I think his plans will take him and his brother to Grand Am. His only downfall as I see is that he’s a Montreal Canadians fan – a season ticket holder, in fact. I’m a Boston Bruins fan – so we have some differences. We agreed that he could win the F2k championship, as long as my team won the Stanley Cup.
- Matt McDonough