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Jack Mitchell Jr.

Jack Mitchell Jr. pilots the No. 93 Exclusive Autosport Spectrum at Road Atlanta in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series. (photo: F1600Series.com)

Editor’s Note: I’m pleased to welcome back junior formula racer Jack Mitchell Jr. to  Junior Open-Wheel Talent. Mitchell last wrote for JOWT following the Canadian Grand Prix in June, 2013. This season, he is racing in the F1600 Formula F Championship Series and recently charged from 17th on the grid to finish 2nd at Road Atlanta (see video below). But before you watch the highlight video, make sure to read Jack’s recap of his weekend in Georgia. Enjoy.  -Ed

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Thank you so much for having me back!

The offseason was a pretty long one for me. I had not been in a car for over six months, which is rough for any driver. I used my time during the off season to focus on developing myself as an athlete, applying to college, and finishing off high school strong. Fortunately my hard work paid off, and I am attending Marquette University in the fall and I will continue racing while there. In Chicago there was snow on the ground for a majority of those six months and it was freezing cold. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to hop on a plane and get down to the warm south and one of my favorite tracks, Road Atlanta.

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Jack Mitchell Jr. pilots the No. 90 Exclusive Autosport F1600 car during the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. (photo: FlagWorld.com)

Jack Mitchell Jr. pilots the No. 90 Exclusive Autosport F1600 car during the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. (photo: FlagWorld.com)

Ed. Note: This week we are fortunate to have up-and-coming junior formula driver Jack Mitchell Jr. blog about his experience during the Formula Tour F1600 races at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Mitchell Jr. writes about his in-car and out-of-the-car experiences during Formula One’s prestigious stop at Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Enjoy.

Wow what a weekend!

First off, huge thanks to Junior Open Wheel Talent for giving me another blog opportunity. I love doing these and hopefully it will provide a nice perspective of what goes on at this action-packed event on and off the track.

I competed in the Montreal Grand Prix last year with mixed results and learned important lessons about low grip street circuits. Being that it was my second year, I knew that I would have a solid chance at competing for the win.

The Exclusive Autosport Spectrum cars have been extremely reliable and quick at every track we’ve gone to. That’s a massive comfort heading into a track such as Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve.

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Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson prepares to hit the track at Lucas Oil Raceway before the Pro Mazda Night Before the 500. (photos by Ron Bijlsma)

Ed. Note: Juncos Racing driver Scott Anderson finished fifth during the Pro Mazda Night Before the 500 race at Lucas Oil Raceway. The top-five result was his second-best finish this season (he finished fourth at COTA). In the following entry, Scott describes his weekend in a driver blog exclusive to Junior Open-Wheel Talent. Enjoy.

Coming into the Night Before the 500 weekend I had high expectations. I had a couple of very productive tests leading up to it and had been spending a lot of time with the Juncos Racing team over the past month learning a ton about the technical aspects of racing and race cars, which has been extremely valuable.

The practice on Friday went great. The car was getting consistently faster and faster. We made tons of progress and by the end of the day we had the 2nd fastest time. The car was handling very well; it was easy to drive and great on tire wear. Things were looking great for the race.

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Danilo Estrela (No. 11) battles with Wyatt Gooden on the front straight of Lucas Oil Raceway during the Night Before the 500. (photos by John R. Hendrick)

Danilo Estrela (No. 11) battles with Wyatt Gooden on the front straight of Lucas Oil Raceway during the Night Before the 500. (photos by John R. Hendrick)

Ed. Note: Danilo Estrela wasn’t sure what to expect heading into his first oval race. Neither did several of his opponents. A drivers first oval race — something that occurs quite often in the USF2000 National Championship — can be a special moment or one that ends far too quickly. In this particular case, Danilo Estrela had a good first outing and narrowly missed a podium finish. I asked him to recap the weekend in his own words. Enjoy.

First oval experience by Danilo Estrela

After a very successful two days of testing at Mid-Ohio it was time for my first oval experience, I was quite worried because any small change you make to your driving style, typically makes a huge difference on an oval. Plus we would be going about 115 miles per hour on the corners with no run-off areas. That means no mistakes at all.

On the test day the entire Belardi Auto Racing team was excited for the oval. I took my time to learn Lucas Oil Raceway, focusing on being smooth, and after the last session we were second quickest. I learned what I needed to do in order to do well: be really smooth with my input into the car and don`t guess. On the oval I had to be 100% sure the feedback I was giving Bob Knox (my engineer) was accurate. A driver has to know how they are taking each corner. You need to know exactly what you are doing.

Finally the big week arrived, I arrived in Indianapolis very early on Tuesday so I could attend all the seminars and events that the Mazda Road to Indy had for all the drivers (Just a special thanks here to MazdaSPEED and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – they put together a great program this year on-and-off track). On Thursday I went to the track after my seminar and it was all ready for Friday. I headed to the hotel for dinner and went to bed early …no parties before race weekend!

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Zacharie Robichon takes the checkered flag for his first-career win in an open-wheel car at Shannonville Motorsports Park. (photos by Michael Haley)

Zacharie Robichon takes the checkered flag for his first-career win in an open-wheel car at Shannonville Motorsports Park. (photos by Michael Haley)

Ed. note: Last weekend was an exciting one for up-and-coming junior formula driver and standout karter Zacharie Robichon of Ottawa. The BGR Team Grote driver earned his first career pole position and race win in cars (and then did it again) at Shannonville Motorsports Park. This week we’ve invited him to blog about his experience. Enjoy.           

Shannonville DAC trillium trophy races driver diary by Zacharie Robichon

Friday: Friday morning was incredibly cold and rainy. You sometimes wonder why you live in Canada when it is May 24th and it is -1 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Needless to say, we had a little later start to the day than originally planned. Although I had tested at Shannonville during the Spring Fling in April, it was going to be the first time that I was able to race the full track (Spring Fling is run on a shortened version of the track). The setback caused by the weather meant that I was going to be missing some track time, but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice!

It was still damp during my first session on track, so I used the laps to learn where certain bumps were. After lunch we finally got to hit the track when it was dry. This really was an opportunity for me to test the grip levels on the track to see how the car would react. It was a good session because I was only about two-tenths off the pole time from last year. Following that session we made little changes to the gear ratios to maximize the Honda everywhere on track and then headed back out for another two sessions. One thing I noticed quickly about the track is no matter what session it was, a distinct characteristic of the track is that fast laps would always be put in at the beginning of a session. I took note of this because it would definitely be important during the qualifying sessions.

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Aaron Telitz carefully navigates his F1600 race car to victory at Road Atlanta. (photo: Philip Kane / Apex Motorsports Photography)

Aaron Telitz carefully navigates his F1600 race car to victory at Road Atlanta.                   (photo: Phil Kane / Apex Motorsports Photography)

Ed. Note: As part of our ongoing pursuit to help support and promote today’s up-and-coming junior formula drivers we have offered F1600 Formula F Championship winner Aaron Telitz the opportunity to blog about his experience [including a pole position and race win] at Road Atlanta. Enjoy.

After struggling with the setup at the F1600 season opener at VIR I came into Road Atlanta much more prepared for the technical side of racing. I called my engineer before we even got to the track to go over the baseline setup. I wanted to make sure I understood where we were starting off and to go over easy changes to help the balance of the car one way or another.

The biggest learning curve for me in making the transition from Skip Barber cars to an F1600 car has been understanding the dynamics of the car. In Skip Barber I just got into the car and drove as hard as I could, not worrying about the setup. That is not the case in F1600 or in any other race car I will drive in my career. I always tell people, “As a race car driver the easiest part of my job is driving the car,” and the further along I get in my career the more truth there is in that statement.

When the first practice session came around we hit the ground running and ended up P3 in a short session due to red flags. After making a few changes we improved our lap time and position on the time charts in the second session. We didn’t have much time between sessions so it was very important to give good concise feedback so my engineer and mechanic could get going on changes right away. After another small change we improved our lap time again for session three but were still P2 on the chart. We made one final change to the car, put new sticker Hoosier Tires on and went out for qualifying.

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STAR PERFORMANCE: Adrian Starrantino cruised to victory in both F1600 Championship Series races this past weekend at Virginia International Raceway. (photo: F1600/Valet)

STAR PERFORMANCE: Adrian Starrantino drove to victory in both F1600 Championship Series races this past weekend at Virginia International Raceway. (photo: F1600/Valet)

Ed. Note: After wrapping up a highly successful season in the Skip Barber Racing Series, junior formula racer Adrian Starrantino decided to graduate to the F1600 Formula F Championship Series with Bryan Herta Autosport for 2013. In a post exclusive to Junior Open-Wheel Talent, the 18-year-old standout writes about his opening weekend in the F1600 car at Virginia International Raceway. Enjoy.

One word to describe the start of the season: “Awesome.”

In the off-season I made the decision to move to Indianapolis full-time to pin down my racing career. During this time I have been able to see how much work goes into the cars during the off-season.  I knew when signing with Bryan Herta Autosport for the 2013 Formula F1600 Championship there was going to be some big shoes to fill, and I was more than prepared to take on the challenge.

Knowing how the team had performed last year, I was feeling pretty confident rolling into VIR for the first round of the 2013 championship.  I was fortunate to develop a relationship with the crew during the off-season and we were already becoming a true team. The weekend started off with a test day on Thursday and the car was right on pace.

Finally Friday came along and it was time for the first official practice session of the season. Right off the bat we were running P1 and stayed there the entire day. After tediously debriefing with my engineer, Geoff, we had a plan of attack for the first day of racing.

Saturday came and the pressure suddenly became real. All of my preparation and training came down to this day.  I told myself that I would just treat the first qualifying session as another practice run.  Sure enough, the track went green and I was sitting in P1.  Getting pole position was very important for us in two ways; the first was that it gave us excellent track position to start off the race and secondly we were awarded three bonus points towards the championship standings.

With the first pole of the season in my hands, I still knew that the race was going to be tough.  As soon as the green dropped I led into turn one.  As the race unfolded I was finding the similar pattern of the “chess game.”  I knew the best way to win the race was to enter the final lap in second-place.  As the white flag came out I set up the pass and made it stick leading my opponent to the checkered by three-tenths of a second.

I remember being so thrilled as I crossed the line.  I threw my fist in the air and shouted to my team “That’s what I call a start to a season, great job guys!”  The podium ceremony felt so redeeming.

Adrian Starrantino (photo: F1600/Valet)

Adrian Starrantino (photo: F1600/Valet)

After the great win on Saturday, I was determined to repeat my success on Sunday as well.  I qualified in P2 right behind one of my teammates, Ayla Agren, which put us in a great position for the start of race number two of the season.

My team had told me that my main competitor from race one was starting in the back of the field for race two.  I automatically knew that my strategy was going to change.  I thought to myself that it’s all about pacing now.  Keep the tire life as long as possible.  As the green flag waved, I got a jump on Ayla.  As we exited turn one I saw nothing but chaos in my mirrors and almost instantly the full-course caution came out.

As the field prepared for the restart, I checked my mirrors and saw my strongest competitor from race one sitting in P3.  My strategy was going to change yet again and I needed a repeat from the day prior.  As the race led up to the last couple laps, Jake Eidson and I checked out from the field.  I knew that if I had him right in front of me going into the last lap that I would have the advantage.  As the white flag came out I can remember everything getting really quiet… the crew, my breathing patterns, everything.  As we exited Oak Tree corner heading onto the back straight I had Jake in perfect position to overtake.  Right near the end of the straight I popped and made the pass stick.  The emotion was higher than ever going into the last section of the track.  As we popped out of the final corner he was right behind me getting a tow, we crossed the line and I beat him to the stripe by the tiniest margin.  Taking the second consecutive win of the weekend was incredible.  I could not believe it.

Sweeping the weekend in such a manner gives us such momentum heading into round two at Road Atlanta.  With 10 more races to go, the team and I know where we stand and what we have to do to be in the fight for the 2013 Championship title.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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Exclusive: Peter Dempsey Driver Blog

Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:18 am Driver Blog, Indy Lights Comments

Editor’s note: I originally started this site to help up-and-coming drivers obtain the media attention they deserve. Sticking with that original ideology, I’ve decided to try something new this week.

I’ve asked Indy Lights driver Peter Dempsey to recap his first three races in the Firestone Indy Lights series in his own words for the JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com readership.

He was kind enough to oblige and will hopefully be back blogging here again after the Indianapolis Freedom 100 on May 27.

In the meantime, here’s an inside look at Peter’s 2011 season. Enjoy.

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Peter Dempsey celebrating his third-place finish in St. Petersburg following his first-ever Indy Lights race.

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my first blog, not only of 2011, but ever!  Thanks to Ryan at JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com for giving me the opportunity to blog about my 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season.

It’s been a pretty busy opening to the season so far, especially having the first three races over such a short period of time.  My girlfriend Mandy and I moved into our new apartment on Saturday, March 12, and the next morning we started our road trip from Chicago to Barber Motorsports Park for the first official test of the season.

I was actually driver coaching for Juncos Racing on Monday and Tuesday and then testing myself on Wednesday.  Coaching and listening to the drivers’ feedback really helped me get a grip on the track and prepare for my first test in a Firestone Indy Lights car.  After the series test at Barber, I headed down to Miami to participate in a private test with my team, O2 Racing Technology, on Monday, March 21.  For me, the pre-season testing kicked off later than I had hoped for; I only got to complete those two tests at Barber and Miami prior to the first race in St. Petersburg.  I had been out of a racecar for a year and a half, more or less, so it was important for me to do those tests and be able to perform to the best of my ability going into the first race of the season.  Both tests went really well.  I had fun getting to know the team at O2RT and learning and experimenting with the car.

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