October 2010—Australia and Zhuhai
I’m on a two-month road trip now. It feels sort of like a victory lap of the world is starting after this season--all to do with motorsport. After Atlanta I went down for a short trip to the Dominican Republic to work with the Porsche importer down there on some on and off track activities. Then I had time to just scoot back, unpack and repack, and head for Australia. Melbourne and V8 Supercars is the first destination. I’m driving for an iconic team called Garry Rogers Motorsport. V8 Supercar is the equivalent of DTM in Germany or NASCAR in the U.S. It’s Australia’s flagship national championship. The battle has been between Ford and Holden (GM) for many years. The fusion of this race is V8 Supercars and Surfer’s Paradise, the grand prix street circuit. To replace an Indy Car race which has gone away, the government in Queensland wanted to make the V8 Supercar race a world level event. The idea here was to mandate that each two-car team have at least one international driver in their lineup for this one race. Being drafted in to take part with guys like Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Salo and Scott Pruett—it’s just a huge opportunity. I’m in Australia for my first time, sampling the V8 Supercar series and racing against a lot of my heroes. The race itself is the weekend of the 23rd of October. It’s on a street course in a metropolitan community—think Long Beach in Australia on the Gold Coast.
From there it’ll be a hustle straight to the airport Monday morning to make it to Germany—I think that’s something like 26 hours of flying—to make my debut at the Nordschleife on the Nürburgring in the final VLN round of the year. The VLN is a German championship that consists of four-hour races on the Nordschleife, and I believe it’s the only series that takes place on the Nordschleife other than the annual 24 hour race. So you get a huge percentage of the cars that partake in the 24-Hours racing in the VLN on a regular basis. I’m going to be in Porsche’s lead entry, which is the green and yellow Manthey car that has won four out of the last five 24 hour races at the Nürburgring. So there are some big shoes to fill. It’ll be my first time racing on the track, racing for that team, racing that car. And they tell me not only is it the most daunting and difficult track to learn in the world, but the weather in the Eifel in November is iffy at best. That will be a wild weekend…as adventurous as the weekend prior in Australia.
Then, to finish off the tour, it’s back to the east again to China to compete in the Asian Le Mans round at Zhuhai with Jörg in the Hybrid, just another wild opportunity. One of these opportunities only comes along every few years, so to have three weekends in a row is incredible. It’s fun and it’s overshadowing the amount of time I’ll spend in airplanes. I just feel very fortunate and I’m honored to take this on. It’s going to be wild.
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