Emily here again. It’s been a bit mad since I last wrote in my blog a month ago.
After Road Atlanta, I flew home to Pippa’s house in Indianapolis with Pippa on the same flight. She flew in from Germany after her race at the Nordschleife and coincidentally we got ourselves booked on the same internal flight to Indy. How mad is that!
As usual, I went straight back to training at PitFit Training in Indy after the race weekend. It might seem a bit full-on but that’s what I do to build my strength, stamina and focus, to get better every time we go out on track. It’s working too! I can see the difference in my body shape and strength but the change it’s made to driving the car is massive. The control and feel is incredible!
I travelled back to my home in the UK for a few days to see my parents. It was great to see them again, but I was only there for 5 days before I flew back here to the States, so it was a very hectic schedule. I desperately wanted to get my hair trimmed and dyed but my stylist had to cancel last minute so that will have to wait for a bit.
Oh yeah, I also did two days of filming at home too. I’m excited to tell you all that I and two other female athletes, Natalie Decker from NASCAR, and British Jockey, Hollie Doyle, will feature in a 6-part TV program. Whistle Studios and Insight TV are partnering on “Making (Her)Story” a docuseries about rising female athletes competing in male-dominated sports. It’s pretty cool, but it’s also a lot more difficult than you might think. Having them trackside, wanting lots of my time before and after a race can be tough, but I’m loving the experience and can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished.
So yeah, they filmed me for two days at home and training at the Everyone Active Basildon Sporting Village gym, where I train when I’m in the UK. The filming will continue at each of my race meetings this year plus some more with Pippa in Indianapolis too. The series will broadcast next year across the US first, but then Insight TV will do the distribution worldwide. How cool is that!
I had a rare chance to test my Kiwi Motorsports F4 US car on the Monday before Road America. The whole team tested at Blackhawk Farms circuit in Wisconsin. We’d not seen the place before, but we all learnt it very quickly and found some good pace there. It was perfect for me because I needed time in the car before I went to Road America, it just helps get you up to speed again after such a long layoff. Eight weeks is a long time to be out the seat!
I’ve been looking forward to Road America since I heard it got added to the F4 US calendar. It’s the only circuit on the calendar that I’ve been to before, I raced the Lucas Oil Formula Race there in 2019, taking my first Official Pole position in cars. AND it’s my favourite track, so I was excited to get back there in my awesome F4 US car.
In Friday’s first of two test sessions, I completed just three laps when my right rear tyre had a catastrophic failure. I came out of turn 8 heading to the Carousel when it went. It was weird because I wasn’t running the big kerbs, but it still happened. I parked it beyond the barriers and watched the rest of the session as a spectator.
My second session was much better. I got to use my one new set of tyres, kindly bought for me by Malcolm Freeman. Thanks Malcolm. It felt great getting the car up to proper speed again!
Saturday FP1 went well. I posted ninth fastest of the 27 cars on track, so I was on target for where I was aiming to qualify.
Qualifying started and I spent time warming my new set of tyres for the first lap and building my pace up over the next two. My fourth lap was going to be the start of my proper qualifying run, so I was pushing hard from the beginning. I’d just come out of the flat out turn 7 when the car got loose and pulled hard to the right. I fought with the car for a bit, trying to keep it out of the wall, which I did, just, but that was it for my qualifying session. When we got the car back to the team, they found the weld had failed on the wishbone, it had sheared straight through. So that was it, I qualified down the grid in twenty-second. The only consolation I had was it would give me another chance to show off my overtaking skills and have some fun getting through the field.
Race 1 was a bit of a unique one. An incident in the first lap brought out a full-course yellow. I very nearly got caught up in it too. I had to jump on my brakes and stop the car before the crashed cars as I couldn’t go either side as there were cars there already. I reversed away and got going again and joined the back of the snake of cars behind the Safety Car. I spoke to Pippa over the radio to ask if I could get my front wing checked and nose cone checked just as a precaution. I did that next time around, the team checked it out, gave me the OK and sent me off to join the back of the queue again, down in twenty-fifth place.
Once the circuit was clear and safe to race, we got back to racing. I managed to move up six places places on that lap and was preparing for more on the next when the yellows came back out for another incident. The race finished under SC with just one green flag lap completed. I posted the thirteenth fastest time in that lap, which should have meant I would be starting race 2 in thirteenth place, but there was another twist to come. Because of the lack of racing laps, the Stewards ruled it a non-race, so they kept the results, but no points were awarded. They also decided that because of the odd nature of the race, the grid for the next race would be based on our qualifying results, which is gutting as I’d hoped to be back to racing in the top ten again.
After the race, I was visited by one of my awesome supporters, Anthony Castillo, who’d bought one of my used F4 US tyres through my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, so that was cool to meet him, sign the tyre and hand it over to him. He also has his name on a side pod too as part of my #GetInvolved campaign. I think the TV crew got some of that footage too so hope that makes the final cut.
I had a photo shoot at the track on Sunday too. It was for Parella Motorsport Holdings. they wanted to get their three scholarship drivers, Ernie Francis Jr in FR Americas, and Chloe Chambers and I in F4 US, along with our cars, to celebrate their PMH Powering Diversity Scholarship programme, without which we may not have been on the grid this year. I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to Tony Parella for his kindness and generosity for supporting us all.
Back to the racing. Race 2 at Road America was a little bit like the first. We had a multi-car incident on the first lap which caused a full-course yellow followed by a red flag after 20 minutes of the race had elapsed. That left a 10-minute race, a four-lap dash to the Chequered flag. I started twenty-first after being promoted one position as another driver got a penalty and I fought my way to sixteenth with the fourteenth fastest lap. I don’t think I switched my tyres on properly when warming them up, so it took me longer to get going than expected.
Race 3 was on Monday morning, and I was now starting thirteenth, due to another driver getting a penalty but the organisers had said it would be a rolling start in single file from behind the Safety Car to help reduce the incidents from side-by-side entry into the fast turns. I made sure I warmed my tyres up properly this time, and so did Pippa by reminding me over the radio to do so too.
I took one car on the first lap and another on the second to take eleventh place on the track and was lining up tenth and ninth place respectively to get them both on the front straight. Exiting the final turn, one of the cars ahead spun. I took evasive action to avoid a collision but was collected by another driver who was also trying to avoid the incident, ending my day right there. It was completely unavoidable, there was nowhere I could go, and I’m so choked for the team, for Pippa, and for myself, we knew we had the pace to get a great finish with some good points.
It was a tough weekend for results, no one could have expected this. If I didn’t have bad luck this weekend, I’m not sure I’d have any! Looking at the positives, I showed I have the pace to run inside the top third of the grid and I learnt a hell of a lot, so I’ll be able to take this into round 3 at Mid-Ohio in five weeks’ time on 25-27 June.
Everyone was really supportive about what happened, and they all mentioned what could have been. The feeling inside the Kiwi Motorsport Team is probably the best I’ve ever felt within a team. All the drivers get on and there’s a real sense of “family”, even though we’d not give each other an inch on the track, we work well together in the awning, which makes for a great place to be.
Pippa and I left the circuit in my car. Well, I say my car, one of my sponsors, Heavy Right Foot Coffee Company, kindly lent it to me for the season so I can get around. Thanks Mike. I took Pippa to Milwaukie airport so she could fly to Barber to do more coaching the next day, and I drove the five hours home to Indy. It gave me a chance to call my parents and catch up on everything that had happened over the weekend, there and here.
Oh! Oh! Oh! I almost forgot to say, I’M GOING TO THE INDY 500! That’s soooo amazing! Pippa literally broke it to me at the end of the race weekend like, “Oh, and by the way, you are going to the 500!” I mean, jeez! I‘m so excited! I have to say a massive THANK YOU to Pippa and to another of my awesome sponsors, the owner of The Momentum Group, Jim Bork. Thank you so much, I can’t wait to get there and see what
car I’m in oops! What suite we are in!
Enjoy the 500, I know I will!
Thanks for reading guys.
Catch up next month.