Last week was the opening round of the SRO World Challenge Series at Sonoma Raceway in California. It’s always a nice change of pace to be out in Wine Country and to travel into San Francisco. It’s such a different landscape than what I have here on the East Coast!
The surroundings weren’t the only change of pace for me. SRO is different in several ways compared to IMSA, where I usually am. The format of the event and even of the races themselves is quite different.
The team I was working with at Sonoma, Forbush Performance, is in their first season of competition. Not only was this the first event of the season, but it was also their first professional endeavor as a team! With that newness are so many aspects that need to be thought through, from the event logistics side of things all the way to the inner team workings and building competitiveness with the car and drivers. These details can really make the difference in a program, because no matter how fast the drivers or car might be, these things need to all come together to create the ideal environment for success.
Among the aspects that a new team has to tackle is one that I was especially involved in at Sonoma, and that was coaching the drivers, who had never co-driven together before. Not only are there nuances between co-drivers when it comes to feedback and direction for setup changes, but also with details such as driver comfort (like seating position) and driver changes during the pit stops.
It was a fun dynamic for me: one of the drivers is also the team owner, and I’ve worked with him for a few years now, while the other driver was someone I’d never gotten to work with before. That gave me the exciting challenge of learning how to best work with the new driver even as we built the foundation for the drivers to work with each other in the most efficient way possible.
We looked at data and video to learn how to go faster, but we also worked on various details that I really enjoy, like driver change practice. Driver changes were new to both drivers, so I got to see them really progress with that skill throughout the weekend.
Both drivers set a satisfying, competitive pace, and even with all of the additional aspects thrown into the mix of a one-hour, two-driver race, they were able to tackle everything successfully to have a positive weekend. It’s going to be an exciting season as the team continues honing their skills in every aspect of multi-driver racing! I’m looking forward to helping them make those strides.