Peter Portante Champion’s Perspective: 2012 Race Series Championship Shootout, Part I

The 2012 Skip Barber Race Series can be described in three words: really close racing. The 2012 Championship Shootout would be no different. The Shootout would last three days and would take place at one of the most challenging tracks in North America—Road Atlanta.

The enormity of the Shootout hit me when I first sat in the car. I had been strapped in, all my equipment was on, and I was ready for the first practice. Though I quickly realized that in my eagerness to get back on the track I had forgotten practice didn’t start for another 15 minutes! No worries. I slowly pressed my visor down, and I started running my practice laps in my head. But I only got to Turn 5 before my mind began to wander. I thought back on all that I had done for this opportunity, all the hours in the gym, all the time working on business plans. This is why I wanted to try road racing.

I have been, and still am, an oval driver. I started racing at the age of seven in Karts, like most of my competitors. But I ran on a track that only turned left! I have been very lucky to have lots of success on ovals in my career. But I always wanted to try road racing. I have been a huge fan since I was a kid. It was something I wanted to do and something I wanted to win. And Skip Barber Race Series gave me the best opportunity to start my foray into this new niche of motor racing, only 10 months ago.

The Skip Barber Championship Shootout would be the best place to test the skills I had learned over the summer season. It was a competition to find the most complete driver, and that is what any driver wants to become. Scoring in the Shootout would be not only for driving; points would be awarded for fitness, business plans, as well as interviews , and your interactions with the Skip Barber instructors.

Points would be awarded for all four areas, and then added to your points total from the driving. The driver who scored the most points would take home the prize: a $200,000 scholarship to the USF2000 Series from MAZDASPEED, becoming a MAZDASPEED development driver, $20,000 courtesy of California Scents, as well as an Indy Lights Test with Bryan Herta Autosport.

The only thing more impressive than the prize was the competition. Everyone competing in the Shootout could win.

Practice went very smoothly and, in no time, it was time for interviews. We would be filmed during interviews by some of motorsports biggest names: Jeremy Shaw, Bob Varsha, and Barbara Burns. Driver after driver went into the media room. After what felt like an eternity, it was my turn. I walked in thinking to myself, “Don’t be nervous, just take it like any interview, just be cool”.

I approached the table where the three were seated, shook their hands, and, I must admit, the biggest grin emerged on my face. I mean, “Look who is interviewing me, how cool is this?” I thought! Then it began, and quickly it was over. I had thoroughly enjoyed my five minutes of fame. I was happy because I believed I had answered well, but also personably. But it would be two days till I knew how I did.

Continue reading Peter Portante Champion’s Perspective: 2012 Race Series Championship Shootout, Part II