Editor’s Note: Peter Portante joins the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires for their 2015 season racing for Atlanta Motorsports Group (AMG). Peter has graciously agreed to provide for us his thoughts after each round of this season’s championship. You can follow Peter’s racing exploits by bookmarking his website, http://www.peterportante.com/, liking his Facebook Page, and following him on Twitter, @portante24.
There is a saying in racing, “You have no friends on track.” This is really as close to a utopian statement that can be made when people forcing you to use correct hashtags because it will further your career. The problem with this utopian idea is issues on-track will transfer off-track to the paddock. Everyone, or at least the people that care, are so massively invested in this sport, mentally and finically, because we are all “pro” drivers. Which is weird right? For all the investment you make, when something doesn’t go your way, especially when it isn’t your fault, you can’t just forget it when you take off your helmet.
NOLA was interesting. I say interesting because soggy, dark, sad, tiring, disappointing, a logistical nightmare, and the worst parking situation since Black Friday, if on Black Friday you parked in a swamp, were bussed 20 minutes to your store, and instead of everything be on sale it was marked up, and then when you get back your car it needs to get towed, but that’s ok because the parking lot has tow truck, but you have to pay the tow trucks, so yea like that. Besides that, it was good.
After a disappointing weekend at Sebring, I was ready to get after it. We were the only team that had never tested at NOLA, but it never went through our heads. We went out for our first test session and were fast right off the bat. (Opening Day reference, see how well rounded I am?) The biggest wrench that was thrown into the mix was the fact that it was going to pour all week long, so of course we ran all of zero sessions with rain tires on the car. Thank you Brick Tamlan and Ron Burgundy.
Over the course of practice, we found a couple issues with the car, but we got it all squared away for qualifying. As I headed out on track, I was ready to go get the pole, but subconsciously I decided to brake like a obscenely early into Turn 3. I lost so much time that I don’t even feel comfortable saying it to myself, so the hell if you think I will tell you! The end result would be a P6 starting position, but the car was fast and as long as the guy behind the wheel could still wheel it, we would be all set for the race.
The race went green, and I went straight to the lead! Well, actually, first I got frisky with the back of John Dean’s car, but went in too deep, then I went into the lead. I did my best to break the draft only to be pushed off the track later that lap. As I came back on the track, I let a car get by as I was still coming up to speed. Unfortunately, he jumped an apex curb and drove into my door and spun me around. Thankfully, a full-course caution came out, and I would restart from the back of the lead lap. I did my best Tom Cruise impression and skirted the outside wall until I was back up to P7 on the front straight. It was some of the best damn flying I had ever seen right up until I got myself killed when a driver went from the inside all the way to the outside and drove me straight into the outside wall. So then I drove the rest of the race with a wheel wonkier than your lunch lady’s eye, and a subframe as straight as Boy George.
Race 2 would start in the damp but on slicks. We had done as much repair work as we could on the car but there was only so much to we could do before the next day. When the race started, I made my way towards the front, this time at a much slower pace, just waiting for the right time to pounce. I tried to work with people with, but to no avail and I was pushed off track, again. I fought my way back through the field to get up to P5, but I just didn’t have enough time to catch the leaders.
I know I should say I’m happy with 5th but I am here to win, and I will! I have to wait another two weeks before we get after it again at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Going to put on a Brady-esque comeback… dear God, I hope I don’t play the Giants!