2014 SKUSA Summer Nationals – Modesto GP: Life in the drivers seat featuring Jordan Redlin.
After a long drive starting at 5:45 in the morning we finally completed our journey from Vancouver to California at midnight. All I could look forward to, was getting some sleep. We arrived at the track, dropped off Darco and Phillip Orcic, and headed to the hotel. As soon as I reached the hotel, I was greeted by my Jet lagged friend and mechanic Mr. Eddy Tinini. I was quickly woken up and became excited as I realized what Eddy had sitting on the table for me. Eddy had brought me an awesome gift, he brought me a brand new pair of alpine star racing boots and a pair of factory CRG/SPARCO racing gloves. I was extremely excited and grateful as they both fit perfectly. After about 10 minutes, we crashed and the lights were out.
“The paddock was split up over a couple of blocks, luckily the grid was in sight from our PSL West tent and we didn’t have to push the kart trolley two blocks like some others who did.”
I woke up at about 8:00 and felt bad for Eddy when I heard that he had already woken up before 5 am, he couldn’t sleep any longer. (5am = 2pm in Italy). The hotel breakfast is notorious for being terribly unhealthy so we headed out to get some breakfast at the IHOP. Soon enough we arrived at the track and immediately became confused on the paddock arrangement until we received a mini map. The paddock was split up over a couple of blocks, luckily the grid was in sight from our PSL West tent and we didn’t have to push the kart trolley two blocks like some others who did. The SKUSA team was hard at work preparing the track. I walked what I could of the track, some was unavailable due to road traffic. My first impression was wow! There’s a super tight chicane, the straights are long and the tracks going to be fast! The track was approx. 1.5KM long and had only 8 turns. After the walk, I returned to the pit to find my father and Eddy hard at work switching the kart from the Rotax configuration to the SKUSA one. After a day of hard work, which felt like a week in 42 degree weather we headed back to the hotel to catch up on rest.
“The unreal tight chicane with high curbs, (AKA The Chassis bender and Axle claimer) was not a fan by the drivers and mechanics.”
It was finally time to hit the track. Before I was even able to start my first session we were already an hour behind schedule. The cadets were a problem on this track, they caused a red flag nearly every session. I realized right off the bat in my first few laps that there was no room for error on this track! The driver who could push the hardest, drive the closest to the barriers and sit on the unforgiving edge for the longest would be the winner. We would only have four sessions of practice so I needed to make every lap count. I forgot about the barriers and pushed immediately resulting in a satisfactory result, a time clearing the field by 1.5 seconds in the first session. As the other drivers lapped and became comfortable with the walls, the margin began to decrease as expected. Session 3 was the first of the timed sessions. I had a problem with the motor mount and the engine began to slide backwards, resulting in my chain flying off twice in the 10 min session. Luckily I had time to put the chain back on and still do a couple of hot laps, I clocked in at third position 0.068 tenths off of pole. The grid was tight! In the fourth and final timed session, we put on a new set of tires and I went for it, treating it as a qualifying session. I pushed a bit too hard and just nipped the curb in the chicane with my rear tire resulting in a bent axle. A lap later the vibration was so great that it threw the chain mid corner, leaving poor Travis Lowe nowhere to go but to drive all up and over on me, finishing both of our sessions.
“Due to several red flags our race was hours behind schedule and didn’t finish until approx. 2:15 in the morning.”
The unreal tight chicane with high curbs, (AKA The Chassis bender and Axle claimer) was not a fan by the drivers and mechanics. The SKUSA staff made a good call and decided to remove the second half of the chicane before the racing commenced. With the addition of the IAME X30 being allowed to run for this race, I quickly found myself screwed. The majority of the drivers found the x30 to be faster and put it on for qualifying. I’m a very light driver and could not afford to put on an extra 15 pounds on my lead sled required to run the faster engine. I was stuck with the leopard, I qualified seventh but didn’t let it get to my head. I would start the first heat race behind Remo Ruscitti, the top qualifying leopard driver. The starts were very aggressive and I was parked in the barrier by a fellow competitor in turn two. He apologized later for his mistake but it didn’t help the fact that I now needed to start dead last for the second heat. I had a really great drive and advanced from 30th to 11th in the short 8 lap heat race. Despite the combination of points from the heat races I was able to start the final in 11th position. I just put my head down and drove through the field. I advanced a lot until the second to last lap where a driver in front contacted the barrier, I had to make a lighting fast maneuver to avoid his rebound, costing me precious time and four positions. In the end I was able to finish in sixth position. To be plain honest I learned a lot from that race and the little mistakes that I made throughout it. Due to several red flags our race was hours behind schedule and didn’t finish until approx. 2:15 in the morning. Immediately after the race we headed back to the hotel to get as much sleep as possible before returning to the track.
I was eager to win on Sunday after my adrenaline rush from just earlier in the morning. I was determined to make the most of every session. In the morning warm up I pushed my kart to the absolute limit, and then over it! Just after finishing lap 3 of the morning warm up I kissed the barrier on the exit of turn 6 with my rear tire. While seeing sparks and spinning backwards to a grinding halt I thought to myself damn! All of this from that little tap. Despite another destroyed axel I was glad to have found the absolute and ultimate limit throughout that corner, it’s an incredible and indescribable feeling! After retiring from the session all I could do was hangout by the fence and watch a bystanders race monitor. On the last lap my time was bumped down to 3rd position, 0.038 off of pole. The schedule ran much closer to the time on Sunday because the staff decided to cut out one heat and make it double points. Unfortunately for me that meant that where ever you finished in the heat determined your final starting position. I completed the warmup lap and at the start I had to abort and pull off to the side of the track. An un-common problem with the brake petal caused it to seize full on, forcing me to take a DNS. Again I didn’t let the drawback get to my head. I prepared to start the final in last place. My intention was to make it through the start without getting collected, so I didn’t make a single pass until the fourth corner. From there on out I just put my head down and followed some very valuable driving advice! (Shut up and push on the gas) What do I know, it works! I advanced from last to seventh before the red flag. In the restart I was gridded up to start in eighth. A couple of drivers put their hands up, I was under the impression that the start had been called off. After three drivers passed me and the field continued to race away at full speed, I quickly realized the start was good. That mistake cost me some very valuable time, especially because the staff used two of our race laps as warm up laps to save time. I will never make that mistake again. I was able to advance to fourth position before the race ended, I sure wish they hadn’t cut the laps! A few more and I would surly have been contesting for a money spot.
In the big picture, the race weekend went well for me. The CRG Kart handled awesome, my Italian Motors engines were very strong and I learned a lot by driving up through the field to 4th. I am very grateful to all of my supporters. I must give a special thanks to My Father and Eddy Tinini for working very long hours to prepare the kart and to set my relationship straight with the barriers.
My Primary sponsors in which this weekend wouldn’t have been possible without, Rampart Detection Systems, Fikse Wheels PSL, IM tuning, CKN and all of the support from under the PSL West tent.
Sunday Final – Part 1:
Sunday Final – Part 2: