Andre Gomes Champion’s Perspective: Inaugural Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy, Part I

The checkered flag dropped as I was heading towards turn 1 at over a hundred miles an hour. Knowing the event was over, I prepared to slow down and get the car safely to the pits. However, after having approached turn 1 cautiously all weekend due to an early scare, I knew I had to set things straight and confront that wonderful and frightening turn head-on. Lap times didn’t matter anymore- it was the in-lap, but any off-track excursions would have been disastrous. I was at risk of throwing it all away. They say you have to be pretty stupid to be a fast driver, and maybe I had a stupid moment. I completely ignored my braking point and dived into the corner with abandon…. thoughts of the days leading up to that moment passed through my mind.

We got into the action pretty quickly on the first day with four autocross sessions. These were just for practice and were not timed. With that out of the way, we headed to the track’s “modified” layout where we were split into four groups, each doing four sessions of around thirty minutes. Passing was allowed everywhere, and although track position did not count, lap average did. Losing the least amount of time in traffic was very important, as was getting up to speed as soon as possible. With this in mind, I made a classic rookie mistake and went into turn 1 a little too hot on my first flying lap. The rear braked loose but not in a normal fashion, instead it snapped loose causing the car to pitch sideways and away from the apex as I corrected the slide. At track out I ran out of road and the right wheels went over the rumble strips onto the grass.

A spin or 4-off would have resulted in a debilitating point deduction, and as I am sure you’ve seen from the event results, there was no room for error. For a split-second I thought it was all over, I had barely begun driving and I was heading into the wall! It was a moment of sheer and utter disappointment. Miraculously, I managed to get the car back to the asphalt and brake for turn 2. This naturally led me to change my approach to turn 1. The rest of the session went smoothly with no more big moments. I was pleased with my time until Connor ran just a couple of tenths off me. This worried me since I had gotten additional practice at the Skip Barber 2-day school on this track and he had not. I tried not to let it affect me and focused on what I could improve in my laps on the remaining two days.

Continue reading Andre Gomes Champion’s Perspective: Inaugural Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy, Part II