The purpose of this blog is to inform those who are interested about my journey as one of three students from around the world who earned placements at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing as a result of the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy. Family, friends, colleagues, aspiring engineers, and any other followers are welcome to visit this page and, if desired, give me feedback or ask questions. It is an effort to streamline documenting the next 12 months for all of these varying audiences, some of which do not participate in social media.

I have never written a journal, never written a blog. This is a first for me. This being the most meaningful and fantastic opportunity I could ever dream of, I would like to share best I can the details of what goes on in my day-to-day during the academy. I am incredibly honored to have won a placement at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing, and I seek to make this opportunity worth everything it possibly can be.

I will write once or twice a week, depending on the accumulation of events and catching up on the previous few days. If you'd like, you can sign up for email notifications for when I create a new post! See the link toward the bottom of this page. I hope you all enjoy, and thank you so much for visiting!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Career Roots

I want to go back to my career roots for a moment.  One thing I forgot to mention in my last blog post was about SRT Motorsports, where I had interned during the summer of 2013.  After an amazing season in USCR, for which the final race of the season was a couple of weeks ago (the same weekend as the F1 Japanese Grand Prix), SRT Motorsports took home the constructor’s championship for the GTLM category.  Kuno Wittmer won the driver’s championship, followed by Jon Bomarito.  Mark Goosens and Dominik Farnbacher got 4th and 5th respectively, so 4 of the top 5 drivers were the main Viper drivers.  Really remarkable.  So a huge congratulations to them!

Kuno at the Tudor USCR Night of Champions
Photo credit: Amanda Zileski

Working with the guys at SRT Motorsports and Riley Technologies was an amazing honor, and along with my time in Formula SAE, was no doubt something that helped launch me to the incredible opportunity I have today.  Thank you to Gary Johnson, Matt Bejnarowicz, Dick Winkles, Bill Riley, Ralph Gilles, and all of the great people of both Riley and SRT for helping me learn so much about what it takes to be successful in motorsport and beyond.

My first experience shadowing race engineers, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Toronto, July 2013
Trackside with Ralph Gilles and Dick Winkles
My mentors Gary Johnson and Matt Bejnarowicz with SRT crew member Jim Menego at the Night of Champions
Photo credit: Jim Menego

Unfortunately, following that weekend, Chrysler announced they would discontinue the Viper racing program.  It’s definitely sad to see the program go, especially considering what it means to me on a
personal career level.  There’s more to the guys at Riley and SRT Motorsports than the Viper program alone, and of course I wish them all the best in the future.

The sun sets on the Viper GTS-R program.
Photo credit: Jim Menego

Back here at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing, I’ve been settling in over the past couple of weeks and getting to know the others on my team on a more personal level.  We’ve been giving each other a bunch of crap where my American-isms differ from British English, and it’s been pretty hilarious.  For instance, aluminum (American English) vs. aluminium (British English).  I, along with most FSAE guys I know, always thought the Brits couldn’t pronounce the word correctly.  It’s interesting to realize that they really are just two different languages, and it is indeed a translation.  But we have fun screwing around on the subject, how I spell everything with z’s rather than s’s (like visualize vs. visualise), American vs. British stereotypes, and other mannerisms.  They’re funny guys, which makes the environment really comfortable.

I also had my first experiences with race support during the leadup to Sochi.  Working in the Ops Room is fantastic, as we are linked directly to the track in real time, giving feedback to and supporting the trackside engineers.  Meanwhile, Jason and Will have been working on design and have been interfacing directly with the technicians who fabricate and built the respective components.  That’s been really awesome for all of us to get involved with and see how everything comes together, from the design office to the manufacturing floor to the racetrack and back via data and driver feedback.  The processes are fascinating to see in a 360-degree perspective, something you don’t get to have in every career.

Pit Wall 

That Sunday (now two weeks ago), Jason and I went into London to catch up with some friends and watch the USC game and Russian Grand Prix.  We ended up at Sports Bar & Grill in Melcombe Place.  They play all of the NFL games and some other American sports.  On Sundays, a small group of USC fans gets together to watch the game from the previous day, and Jason’s friend Christoph, a German student who had also studied engineering at USC and is now going for his advanced degree at Imperial College London.  The Terps didn’t play that weekend, but the Trojans put on a great show against Arizona, so it was fun to be around those guys for the game.  In the meantime, the Russian Grand Prix was also being televised, so most of our attention was there. 

RB10 at Sochi
Before the start of the race, there was a really nice show of support for Bianchi, who is still in critical but stable condition.  The track, new for the 2014 season, is interesting, with a lot of 90 degree turns.  Unfortunately the race didn’t have a spectacular result for us.  Ricciardo placed 7th, Vettel 8th.  The track surface was very smooth and played into tire grip (and therefore, wear) in very different ways than expected.  We learned a lot!

Ricciardo behind the wheel at Sochi

After the race, I went off to meet Olga, a friend I hadn’t seen in over four years!  She and her boyfriend, Szymon, happened to move from Poland to London recently.  Olga and I studied abroad at Politecnico di Milano back in 2010.  She was part of our core group of close friends who had met through social events held by the local chapter of the Erasmus Student Network.

On the way there, I passed by a Five Guys restaurant.  I didn’t even know they existed in the UK, and apparently there’s a few in London.  Even more apparent is that people love the place.

The barrier suggests a long line here is commonplace...

Anyway, the three of us met up at The Adam and Eve pub in the Homerton area of London for a Sunday roast.  Seems to be the thing at pubs here, and it’s really good, hearty food.  It was great to see her again, and also to meet Szymon.  We ended up staying there and chatting for a few hours.  They were a lot of fun, and we shared a few beers over the meal and then played pool on a crazy L-shaped table. 


This table totally screws with angles and how you’d normally go about the game.  So weird!  After playing a couple of games on it, we headed our separate ways, and I took the train back to Milton Keynes.  On to the work week we went!  

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