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.
Why do we have such an obsession with competition of one person or unit versus another? In the case of groups or organizations, they are not referred to individually but as one, the New England Patriots, Democrats, Republicans, see my point. In the way of boxing, your unit is only one person. This all stems from what I think is a search of common sense and the reductions of variables. Why do you think the NBA went to a 7 game series in the first round, because the wanted to make sure the best team won. We live in a world where people need to be proved correct, a place where no matter where you fall on an issue you can find an obese middle-aged man, whose diet only consists of hot pockets and has a blog that agrees with you. You will always find sources behind you if you look hard enough. By reducing groups to units of one, you reduce variables, now no longer taking the effects of individuals but the strengths and weakness as unit, a team, or organization. Why was what some people called the Boxing match (or what I like to call another round of the CCC, Competitive Cuddling Competition) between Floyd and Manny such a big deal? It’s a man vs a man, thus less variables into a result, a straight fight, and this turns people on as we has humans we always seek fairness.
Now look at motorsport. It is the same, fundamentally, but only on steroids. We had 47 cars in one of our races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was practically a free-for-all, but it is not one man vs everyone else, it is one man vs the next, and the next, etc. At the same time you can minimize that to much smaller groupings. Was it me vs Gallahger in Race 2 as we fought tooth and nail for the race win, is it Loustanuo vs Kemper, the two MazdaSpeed Scholorship drivers, Sicksideways vs AMG, or is it who has better facial hair, Kemper vs Dean? We all have our battles in life and that’s why we seek them in other people’s lives. But now go deep into the rabbit hole with me. What about the greatest plot designs in literature, Man vs Self? We loved watching for Will Power to get over the hump of winning a championship last year, we still watch to see if Pastor can beat his understanding of what a high percentage pass is, and maybe complete 75% of a race distance. We fight our own battles every day, and for me Mazda Raceway was a battle… to remember it’s not Laguna Seca.
For someone who call’s themselves Importante I found myself in quite an odd mental battle heading to Mazda Raceway. I felt as though I was nowhere, I never doubted myself but I looked at myself as everything that could go wrong did. Why was it always me, I have the pace, I have the racecraft, so where the heck are the results. Perception is Key. Was it really that nothing went my way, or did I possibly put myself in situations that would not be ideal for a strong race result? I’m not saying it’s my fault, I’m 19, I’m always right everyone knows that. But in reality, maybe just maybe I could put myself in better situations, thus increasing the chance of good fortune or luck?
We slowly rolled down the straight getting ready to be gridded for race 1’s standing start. I pulled up to P2 position… no but seriously when I say I pulled up, I mean it. The front row was on a hill, if you were not on the brake you would roll back down the hill. Ok, so left foot on the clutch, right foot on the brake, make sure she is in first gear. Now, time to pick up the revs, easy, right foot onto the thro….. oh no nope that won’t work (not saying I looked if we actually had a handbrake, but I can tell you we don’t have one). We had about three minutes of staging before we went green. The first minute I spent trying to maneuver my two feet onto three pedals, it was about as hopeless as trying to hold a conversation after getting your wisdom teeth removed. The next minute I spent crying wishing I was an octopus, the next minute I was looking for an attractive women, or sexy car in the foreground (I’ll explain later, or never).
I somehow managed to make a good start and get to P1 into Turn 2, but wasn’t able to get far enough ahead to get down to the bottom line, this misfortune started a small fall down the order, I would continue to fall all the way to P7, but I would work my way back up the field to P3. I still I had time to move forward. I would chip away at the leaders 0.5 sec at a time until I caught the rear of the two lead cars as I came across the line for the checker… perfect.
The next race was a lot less eventful, but a lot more engaging. I started in P4 and battled my way to the lead, then fell back to second after a hard pedal struck me heading into the corkcrew. I fell to second and entered a titanic battle with Gallahger for the race win. My options were limited as Team Facial Hair would strike at any moment if I lost anytime on a outside pass attempt. I gave myself one last shot for victory on the last lap as I drove it as deep as I could and attempted the under over, it didn’t really come to fruition, I had to settle for second.
I ended the weekend with a double podium, massive points. I am happy (I think I am happy, I think I am happy) and in reality I should be ecstatic. My perception is that this should have happened since Sebring, that its bittersweet, and I hate how much I craved that win, and how close I got to it but that is a mental battle I will have to deal with until Mosport… I mean Canadian Tire Motorsport Park! Damn it.