It’s all happening…

I am sitting at a restaurant in YYZ that I’ve never been to before.  Which is because I’m in a different part of YYZ than I usually am.  And I’m quite excited about the reason for that…

This year has gotten off to a quick start for me.  Firstly, I am continuing with my role at Pirelli NAFTA (yes that’s still what we call it) for 2019.  And it seems I have hit the ground running situation this time around.  So far this year I’ve been to Denver (for a friends wedding reception), Atlanta (home of the Pirelli NAFTA motorsports department and a road tire manufacturing facility), Montreal (the home of Pirelli Canada, and technically my office), Oklahoma (for the Chili Bowl) and Las Vegas (where one of our tire fitters facility is located).

Denver was fun as always, I’ve probably harped on about it enough already.  I did my standard visit – friends, brewery hop and drive up into the mountains.  No surprises there. But it hasn’t gotten old yet, so I’m sure that’s what I will do next time I’m there too!

Atlanta and Montreal weren’t very exciting, though it was good to meet some people and we made some good progress on our 2019 plans.  I am feeling pretty good about this year at the moment.

And then Oklahoma for the Chili Bowl.  Again.  Every year it seems like such an insane and silly thing to do, but I just can’t resist.  I once again was working with 2nd Opinion Racing (out of DFW area of Texas), and once again they had 4 cars entered.  For the first time, I (and Matthewaeou) would be the for the entire event, flying in on Sunday afternoon and leaving the following Sunday afternoon.  We had to practice all 4 cars on Monday morning, I was a little bit concerned about the potential chaos and craziness.  Fortunately they were fairly well spaced apart, and it actually went pretty smoothly.  Then Monday night Weston (2WG) had his preliminary night.  He got our week off to a great start by winning his heat in rather spectacular fashion.  This put him in an A qualifier from which he transferred straight to the A Main (his first), and he had a good run.  This meant he would start in a D Main on Saturday, which was a great way for us to start our week!  Tuesday night was Wyatt’s (2W) night, and unfortunately we missed the setup a bit in the heat race.  We then chased to catch up to the track for the rest of the night, and got the car pretty good for the B Main, where he ended up only 2 spots from transferring to the A…so close.  This would put him into an F Main on Saturday.  Wednesday night was Jeb’s (2ND) prelim night, and we sort of did the opposite to Wyatt’s night.  We made a change a bit too early, and then were chasing the track the other direction.  We ended up once again having the car pretty good in the B Main, but the track had slicked off and there was nowhere for Jeb to go to make up the ground he needed to put it in the A; and this would put him into a G Main on Saturday.  Matt (in the 2D) has his preliminary night on Thursday, and started it off with a bang by being really fast in hot laps, ever so slightly besting his best lap from 2018.  Though still not breaking into the 10s…  Matt had an eventful night, his heat race was full of messes, spins, contact, etc, but fortunately he managed to avoid most of it.  We missed the setup a bit and he didn’t quite get the result we were hoping for.  But he started last in an A Qualifier and ran all the way up to 4th, which would start him 12th in the A Main, so things were looking up!  And in the A, the cards just didn’t fall the way we needed them to.  He was up as high as 7th, and with a shot at a top 5, before a series of unfortunate events derailed our night.  The ends result was him trying (and not quite succeeding) to clear the catch fence in Turn 3 on a late restart, which happened to be about 20 feet in front of where I was sitting and watching.  That result would also put him into a D Main on Saturday, and of course as luck would have it, the same D Main as Weston.  Friday was the day for us to lick our wounds, collect our thoughts, regroup and prepare for Saturday.  Of course, after a night out at Tulsa’s finest establishment, Lennie’s.  Please, don’t ask.  Saturday was a bit of a sleep in compared to years past, as all of the cars generally qualified for higher mains, which is progress.  It also meant we were going to run 4 cars within 6 races (races 17 – 23 of the day).  As it would turn out, Jeb managed to bump up twice (10th to 3rd in his G and then 20th to 5th in his F) which was pretty awesome!  But it would mean we ran races 17, 19, 20, 21 and then two cars in race 23.  A bit of a mess from a tire management perspective…. And unfortunately that was the best of the news from Saturday, an F, an E and two D’s.  Progress, if not quite the goal. Which probably means I will return…

From Tulsa, I flew straight to Las Vegas for a few days, prepping some equipment for the upcoming season.  It was a pretty productive couple of days, and I topped it off at Caesar’s Palace, though the blackjack tables weren’t as friendly as I had hoped.  I needed Craig!

I returned home last Wednesday, and had just enough time to spend about 24 hours at the cottage, but what a 24 hours it was.  It included the best ice conditions I have ever seen on the Little Lake, and we had a truly epic skate!

Which brings me to today, and why I once again find myself at the airport.  After almost 11 years, I am finally headed back to Australia!  I am flying through Vancouver to Sydney, to support the 12 Hours of Bathurst which is happening this weekend upcoming.  Bathurst is about 2 hours (I think) Northwest of Sydney, so after landing on Tuesday morning I will spend the day and night there, before meeting up with the others and driving up to Bathurst on Wednesday.  I haven’t seen a schedule as yet, but I imagine Thursday and Friday will be practice, Saturday will be qualifying and Sunday will be the race (5 am – 5 pm local time).  Then I will drive back to Sydney with a couple of the others and spend Sunday night close to downtown.  First thing on Monday morning, I’m headed (back) to Surf Camp Australia!  It’s the same surf camp I did in 2008, and I’m really excited for it.  There’s a shuttle that will take us about an hour south of Sydney, to a beautiful, quiet and rather secluded beach.  After four approximately two hour surfing sessions (and a great deal of exhaustion), I will be returned to Sydney.  I’ve booked an Air BnB in Bondi, just a couple of blocks from where I used to live, and looking out over the ocean.  I will be there for 3 nights, then flying up to Airlie Beach.  I’ve got an Air BnB there for 3 more nights, and then I will get on a Catamaran for 3 day and 2 night tour of the Whitsunday Islands.  If you’re curious, google Whitehaven Beach, it’s spectacular.  Then I will fly back to Toronto via Brisbane and Vancouver.

So much fun upcoming!  Just have to get through about 24 hours of flights and airports…

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I don’t want to survive…

This was written yesterday sitting in YYZ waiting for my flight to Las Vegas.  I’m now sitting in LAS awaiting my flight to New Orleans (through Houston).  The only error below is that I didn’t have time to make it to Caesar’s last night sadly…

After a little bit of a delay at YXU and YYZ, I’m off on my last big trip of the year.  The first destination is Las Vegas, where the company that does our fitting has a shop.  In addition to just seeing the facility and get a better understanding of their business, they’ve got some new equipment for us that needs to be outfitted and setup.  But more than that, I’m hoping to get a couple of hours on the blackjack tables at Caesar’s tonight!
Tomorrow I fly to New Orleans, there is a race track on the south side of the city where F3 is running this weekend.  I’ve never been to this track before, but I am under the impression that it’s not too hard a track, so it should be a fairly low key weekend.  Any recommendations on place to eat?  I would like to find some good gumbo I think.
On Sunday I fly to Denver for a few ‘work from Denver’ days for which I’m really excited.  It will be great to catch up with some friends, and I will get a day of doing my brewery crawl, and a day of driving up into and around the mountains.  I’m going to have to dig out my Denver to do list…
From there I fly to Austin next Thursday for the F1 weekend, where I will be supporting F3 and F4.  I love Austin and am looking forward to some live music, plus the beer and food scene is pretty good.
The following Monday I fly to San Francisco, where there is an 8 hour endurance race at Laguna Seca.  I am really looking forward to this weekend, as Monterey is just about my favourite place in the world, and I haven’t been there for far too long.  I’m hoping to have a little bit of free time for a Fish Hopper breakfast, a lap around 17 mile drive, maybe get down to Big Sur or Carmel for lunch.  And obviously a visit to the aquarium and Bubba Gumps!
The Monday after that I will fly from San Francisco to Milan, where the Ferrari Challenge Finale will be held at Monza.  To be honest, I’m not really looking forward to this trip, I just don’t want to do another trip that long right now.  Plus I was supposed to have another (better) weekend in Austin…. But it will be alright, I know of at least one really great restaurant close by, and the Ferrari Challenge Finale experience could be interesting.  I think I started to develop a rapport with them the last event I did (Road Atlanta) so maybe a chance to build on that isn’t the worst thing.
Then I will fly back home for only a couple of days, before heading to Daytona for the Trans Am finale.  After which I’m pondering a little Florida road trip, I would really like to see Cape Canaveral, go to the Nascar race at Homestead (the FRR send off) and maybe spend a couple of days in Key West.  Anyone done Cape Canaveral, or anything else fun around there?
And then it will be the off season!  By which I mean, I get some time to work on the Chump Car and get ready for the Chili Bowl…
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