This February, Astrid and the ALR team made the long voyage from New Jersey to Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. After months of work having been completed on Astrid’s BMW E36, it was finally time to give the car and driver a shake down before the 2019 season.
Over the winter months, the BMW E36 underwent substantial modifications and transformed into a real race car. The ALR team spent countless hours removing the interior, rewiring all of the electronics, installing data acquisition, upgrading the suspension and brakes, had a full race cage installed, race seat, harness, front splitter, rear wing and a laundry list of other race goodies.
All of the hard work was finally put to the test at Road Atlanta on February 14th and 15th. The team loaded up on Tuesday and embarked on the 19 hour trip to Road Atlanta. Fortunately, the trip was uneventful and the team made it to Braselton, Georgia in time for practice.
Upon arrival, the ALR team was greeted by many friends and familiar faces. A close friend Kelsy Hill, driver of the #360 BMW E36, was most hospitable. In between her driving stints, she took care of our credentials, informed us of the rules and procedures for the event and even had time to prepare some amazing food. Astrid said, “We cannot thank Kelsy enough for taking care of us. She really made this event fun!”
Now, it was time to get out on track! ALR team member Jeff Herridge and Astrid’s father Scott, were the first to take the BMW out for a few test laps. After a few test laps, it was now Astrid’s turn to take the wheel.
Astrid Takes the Wheel
Astrid climbed in her newly built BMW E36, inserted and locked her quick disconnect steering wheel, buckled in her harness and headed across the paddock toward pit road.
Right out of the box, Astrid and her BMW were quick, a testament to her years of karting experience. Hitting her apexes and really putting the new race suspension to the test. Astrid was already putting together respectable lap times in her class. Team ALR ventured around the track to monitor the car in all corners as Astrid completed her laps. After about 30 minutes of testing, Astrid brought the car back to the pits.
When asked how the car felt on her maiden track run, Astrid replied, “The car feels really great! It seems to have a slight understeer so, I think we need to do a tire pressure adjustment. But, all in all it feels better than I expected. It has come a long way since last year. The new sway bars, suspension and big brake upgrade have made a huge difference. The roll cage has stiffened the chassis up a little bit too, which also made a big difference. We are going to continue to test the car and look at the data to dial it in”
The weekend at Road Atlanta progressed without any issues. Car and driver performed flawlessly leaving the entire team with a major sense of accomplishment. Many people who are not involved with motorsports tend to miss all of the dedication and hard work that goes along with building a race car and in team ALR’s case, building a driver as well.
We asked Scott what he thought of Astrid’s driving he replied, “Astrid was much faster out of the box than I thought she would have been. Astrid picked up the line and started picking reference points right away.”
In addition to racing, Astrid was one of 20 students to be accepted into a four year high school Mechanical Engineering program. As a high school freshman, Astrid has been attending the MEAM program at a local community college since September and has learned many valuable skills that pertain to the racing industry. In a matter of a few months, Astrid can write custom G Code and program a HAAS CNC, operate a mill, drill press, lathe, surface grinder, lazer printer and 3D printer. Astrid has already obtained her OSHA 10 certification and has had her projects pass NIMS certifications. By the end of high school, Astrid will have a very well rounded understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering as well as industrial machining. Astrid’s aspiration is to become one of the few professional female race car drivers with a strong engineering background. As such, Astrid has her sights set on attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for college.
As one can imagine, Astrid’s engineering and machining ability made Astrid a vital resource for the team while building her E36. There were many projects that Astrid took command of during the build process. Many items that required custom fabrication and planning were carried out by Astrid. Astrid is now very familiar with the tools and equipment required to build and maintain a race car. Not only can she check continuity and voltage with a multi-meter, she also knows which wrench to grab for the project.
Astrid’s transition from karts to race cars has been so exciting. As the years progress, Astrid exponentially displays a great deal of knowledge and understanding about racing, engineering and business. Astrid certainly is and will be a force to reckon within the motorsports industry. Stay tuned!
Check out the photo gallery from Road Atlanta
Here are a few video clips of Astrid driving Road Atlanta: