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!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Work Hard, Play Hard

Greetings from Abu Dhabi!  (Well sort of.  I wrote this and meant to post earlier!)  I arrived here Sunday and have been granted an incredible opportunity to work with our junior driver development in GP2, one of the main feeder series for Formula 1.  I’ll be spending a total of three full days at the Yas Marina Circuit here, performing and helping to manage some preseason testing and data analysis.  The challenges of testing and attempting to prove myself trackside have been a lot of fun so far!

Beautiful Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE

To reiterate from my last post for those of you who weren’t really part of the application audience, I’ve really enjoyed my tasking at Infiniti Red Bull Racing thus far. The past two months have been exceptionally engaging. I’ve never had such an awesome blend of challenging and fun projects. In addition to working on some nice open-ended mechanical design, I’ve been able to work with aerodynamic map data and aero test planning, test virtual components on the simulator, characterize suspension geometry and perform simple kinematic analysis, create a new vehicle model for simulation, and participate in the support of the race engineering and strategy teams. I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of work and the challenges that have come with it. There is so much to learn!

Red Bull F1 Simulator

Adrian showed up for some of our simulator running.  The honor of working alongside the legend is indescribable.  We were able to interact and converse for a bit, and getting to know him, he’s a really nice guy.  So to sum up, these past couple of months have been spectacular!

The lead up to the first test was a very busy time at the factory, to put it mildly.  This has meant some long hours at the office for everybody and some people even eating all three meals there.  But we’ll have to wait on this…more on the F1 side in my next post.

Even with enjoying the work, long hours are long hours.  In the spirit of “work hard, play hard,” this
also means embracing personal time, getting away from the computers and relaxing with mates.  The past couple of months have been an absolute blast!  Let’s play a bit of catch up, again.

Our buddy Gareth, a contractor for Siemens and our excellent go-to CAD guru, is moving on to other Siemens opportunities beyond the walls of the design office.  Combining birthday festivities for Will earlier in January, a bunch of us went out and hopped around the Hub and the rest of Milton Keynes.  It’s safe to say we had a good night.

Then for the college football championship, Jason and I went over to Sam’s beautiful house down the road to watch.  For the record, I think Sam is more American than Jason and I combined.  Okay, maybe that’s a bit far…but his knowledge and enthusiasm for American sports and all (most) things America is astounding.  To remind us we were in England though, rather than wings and beer, we had biscuits and tea during the game with a nice fire.  An interesting but cozy combo of America and Britain.

Super cozy way to watch football

College (university) sports are huge in the US, particularly basketball and football.  Division I is the highest level of collegiate athletics under the NCAA.  Here, these big money programs are split into different regional conferences, based primarily on geography but also on political and educational grounds.  These programs at the universities Jason and I attend (University of Southern California [PAC-12] and University of Maryland [Big 10, which has 14 members…]), as well the many others, are a source of pride, colors, and comradery.  

The University of Maryland Terrapins (Terps for short) current "Maryland Pride" uniforms
Our humble football stadium at the University of Maryland

And tailgating.

Tailgating with friends and my parents for the homecoming game!
This guy took tailgating a little too literally.  And hard.

And rioting.

"Friendly" rioting on Route 1 in downtown College Park, after winning a basketball game against rival Duke Unviersity
This massive bonfire was actually sponsored by the university

This year, the bracket-style College Football Championship playoff series replaced the weirder, complicated Bowl Championship Series whose championship participants were decided under a points system that attempted to subjectively normalize rankings. 

Anyway, Ohio State and Oregon State University played in the championship game, hosted in warm-weather neutral territory in Arlington, Texas.  After a fairly close first half and most of the third quarter, Ohio State blew the game wide open and won 42-21, a result my fellow 2013 Chrysler intern and good friend Nate was pretty happy with.

Ohio State celebrating their win!
Back in the racing world, the second season of the IMSA United SportsCar Championship kicked off with the 24 hour endurance race, the 24 Hours of Daytona.  Now that the Chrysler factory-backed Viper team no longer exists, a lot of the team from Riley and former SRT guys participated in running a two-car Dodge Viper GT3-R race team alongside amateur privateer Ben Keating.

Day time...

An amazing race, former SRT drivers Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher helped the team pilot the #93 Viper to victory in the GT-Daytona class.  Congratulations to Matt, Bill, and all of the team on their incredible victory and finish!  They’re now the first reserve on the entry list for the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, so fingers crossed to see them at Circuit de la Sarthe in France in June!

Night time!
Celebrating in Winner's Circle!  Congrats, guys!

I also started CrossFit full time in January, heading to Bedford two to three times per week, combined with running with some of my colleagues at Infiniti Red Bull Racing during lunch.  The factory promotes a healthy lifestyle with its running groups, gym, and basic nutrition insight, which is an incredible contrast to typical cubicle life throughout the other industries I’ve experienced.  It’s nice to have a lot of active people around the workplace willing to go and do fun things outside!  The 8km runs on Fridays through the hills of Milton Keynes are reminding me just how far I have to go…

The CrossFit Open began last weekend, and Hope was visiting!  The CrossFit Open is a set of five workouts over the course of five weeks, during which athletes will perform the prescribed workout at their box (gym) and submit their scores after being certified by approved judges.  The best athletes by region will go on to semifinals and then world finals in the US.  It’s one of few competitions in the world where anybody can participate and have an equal shot at winning the whole thing.  Of course, that’s not me, but I decided to finally participate this year, partially because there’s an official scaled division (a lighter version of these very difficult and heavy workouts), and Hope also joined for 15.1 (the first workout of the 2015 Open).  On Friday, I completed the second one, 15.2.  Both were a lot of work, but also a lot of fun!

Hope and I doing 15.1 - snatches!

Jason and I also went to a classic car show in London that featured a great exhibit honoring Mr. Newey.

Beautiful McLaren F1 GTR
Porsche 959 and Bugatti EB110 in the foreground, tons of amazing and rare vehicles  from all eras including a Jaguar XJ220, Lambo Miura, and more
Jim Clark's 1962/1963 Lotus 25
Tazio Nuvolari's 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B
Ayrton Senna's 1985 Lotus 97T
Gorgeous Austin Healey 100/4 race spec car
Awesome craftwork sculptures...there were dozens of these
Ferrari LaFerrari

The best thinkers aren't always the best students.  Keep the faith!

Great example of getting out of your comfort zone and just going for it.  Inspiring.
March 881: the first Newey F1 car.  He was 29.
A slew of Newey-designed F1 cars from his time at Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull

Then about a month ago, Will and Jason and I went to a football (soccer) match with Nick and Simon, a couple of great guys who have been instrumental in the IPEA candidate screening and interviewing.  We had gotten to know them pretty well during our interaction last year, so we met up in a couple hours away the south coast in Southampton for a beer and burger lunch to catch up before going to the game.

Beautiful night for a match!
So British
Simon and Jason heartily enjoying their Pukka Pies

Southampton played Swansea, and it was a pretty well-fought match.  It was Jason’s first live soccer match, too, which was extra cool for him.  And Jason and I had our first Pukka Pies!  The crowd was great…chanting along with them in the chilly weather made for a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Swansea came out on top, 1-0.  Sorry Nick!  But we had a great time there catching up with Nick and Simon!  And guys, I’m still using the company mug at work!

Tea this time, but usually coffee!
It also happened to be the same day as the Super Bowl!  Jason and I went back to Milton Keynes while will went home to his family.  The unfortunate thing about the Super Bowl in the UK is, if you want to watch it live, it starts at midnight.  On essentially Monday morning.

Superbowl XLIX: Patriots vs. Seahawks
We still were able to get a few guys from work to come out!  Gareth, Sam, Gleb, and Kyriacos joined us at our flat to watch the game and enjoy a nice Super Bowl spread.  While we watched the Seattle Seahawks getting destroyed by the New England Patriots (boooo Patriots), I made a classic Maryland appetizer, made popular by our go-to bar in College Park, Looney’s:

Honey-Old Bay wings.  Divine.
Old Bay is a regionally sold spice from Maryland that is most famously used for Maryland’s awesome blue crabs, but tastes amazing on pretty much anything.  Reminds me of home!

British filming director Neil enjoying some Old Bay on classic Maryland blue crabs in Baltimore back in August!

Anyway, the boys loved the wings.  A few of the guys fell asleep at some point throughout the game, but they were all wide awake for the halftime show with Katy Perry and her crazy sharks.

Most entertaining thing of the Super Bowl by far were these awesome sharks...
A few of the guys left at the start of the fourth quarter, and Jason went to bed.  I was able to catch the thrilling last seconds of the game, including Jermaine Kearse’s amazing catch:

Okay, so maybe that was lucky, but what awareness!  This put the unlikely win for the Seahawks in their grasp with only another touchdown.  Unfortunately, with one yard to go, a controversial last play call by the Seahawks resulted in an interception by the Patriots, so that was the highly emotional end of that.  Well, besides an intense brawl that resulted in Bruce Irvin (Seahawks) being the first player ever ejected from a Super Bowl.  The Patriots won, 28-24.  Arghhh.

The time of the game made it a bit difficult, and the lack of being able to watch the American advertisements was a bit disappointing…it was also a bit weird to hear a British accent in the commentary for an American football game.  But watching the game in the UK with the other guys was fun nonetheless!

Speaking of sports, the Six Nations annual rugby tournament started a couple of weeks ago.  So, we Americans have been watching some of the games and learning from the Europeans.  The tournament is hugely important to a lot of people from the six participating countries: England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, and Italy.  It’s been more exciting than I’ve expected, to be fair.

England vs. Wales
My friend Tommy came up for the day from London last Saturday, and we spent the day watching the rugby games along with Kyriacos and Reece.  After coming back to the flat, we played a couple of American beer games in anticipation of going out to the Hub.  We combined this with the most hysterical edgy party game ever: Cards Against Humanity.  If you haven’t played, you need to.  Kyriacos can vouch for this.  Within 15 minutes of his first time playing the game, he actually went on Amazon on his smartphone and bought it.

Cards Against Humanity!!

Then came Pancake Day, or what we generally call in the US, Fat Tuesday.  It’s the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent in the Christian world.  In the UK, this is celebrated pretty far and wide from what I can tell, with lots of pancakes.  Will showed off his skills.

Will showing off his pancake flipping skills... 
And for Lent, I’ve never been great about giving up a luxury.  I think in my recent years I’ve realized that I never really resonated with the idea, though I can appreciate the tradition and motivation for self-improvement through discipline.  So what I started doing this year is taking on a new challenge and embracing the idea of personal growth.  In this spirit, I’ve started to learn Arabic!

Here goes nothin'
I’ve read reviews suggesting Rosetta Stone isn’t the most effective way to learn for this particular language, but that’s what I’m starting off with anyway given its usefulness for European languages.  If anybody has any suggestions for better learning methods or supplementals, I’d love to hear them!

As I mentioned earlier, Hope visited again last week.  We kept it pretty low key, hanging around Milton Keynes for the most part.  On Sunday after the Open workout, we went to Oxford briefly for dinner.  It was enough to realize that we definitely need to go back!  The visit with Hope was a great one with lots of laughs and relaxation.  At the end of her visit, we hosted a Taco Tuesday at the flat for a bunch of colleagues, which was a really fun way to break up the week! 

Taco Tuesday at the flat

That pretty much rounds up what has been going on here for fun outside of the factory!  Coming up is an incredibly exciting month!  The GP2 testing in Abu Dhabi is an awesome opportunity, and hopefully I get a chance to nervously flex my fledgling Arabic skills.  Maybe.  Then, after the season opener in Melbourne, my parents come to visit the UK for the first time for a couple of weeks.  We’ll be traveling a bit throughout Wales, and I’m really looking forward to their visit, spending quality time with them and seeing some new places!

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