LVGP 500 First Place

DSC_0075cOn February 21, 2016, Astrid and four other racers competed in a 500 lap endurance race at Lehigh Valley Grand Prix in the Amateur Division and WON!!!

Each driver would drive two thirty eight minute stints for almost an hour of total driving time. This is where Astrid’s shines. She, has a knack for endurance racing. This might have to do with her experience she has gained while being with her parents at the Rolex 24 and Twilight events. During the 500 strategy and consistent lap times where going to be key in winning this race.

The night before the race, Astrid and her team practiced for the big race the next day. Knowing that they had to do quick driver and kart changes, the team requested that the LVGP staff pull aside a kart for them to practice driver changes. When Astrid’s dad was asked what he thought about the kids practicing driver changes he said, “I think it’s great! Even though this is karting, all of the aspects of professional endurance racing are here. After all, even the top pro teams in the Rolex 24 practice driver changes. When competition is tight, fast pit stops can make the difference…”. All of Astrid’s teammates, Aidan, Blake, Colin and Greg where at the Saturday night practice. However, adding to the advantage of practice time, this team would have one additional tool, race communication.

With Astrid’s parents being racers themselves, and having years of experience with TRG at the Rolex 24, they knew they needed an advantage to help the drivers on the team. So with a little ingenuity, Astrid’s parents devised a way to have radio communication in each of the racers helmets.

A few months prior to the LVGP 500, Astrid’s father purchased a Sena communicator for Astrid’s helmet for use on the outdoor tracks. The purpose was initially meant for coaching her in her Top Kart however, Astrid’s parents realized they could provide communication for all of the racers on Astrid’s team.

DSC_0099cAll 5 racers could communicate with the crew chief while out on track. Saturday night the team worked out the quirks and devised a plan to win the following day.

Sunday morning, Aidan, Blake, Colin and Greg were preparing to race in their very first endurance race. Astrid had prior endurance racing experience in two other races she competed in earlier in the year. Her first being the Iron Man endurance race and her second being the Turkey Bowl at LVGP.

After an eight minute qualifying session, “Team Garden Hoses” would start P2 Amateur and P4 overall out of twelve teams. The strategy of the driver lineup was set and Colin would be the first driver in the kart. Astrid and Colin where the two “Hot Shoes” for the team. Between Astrid and Colin’s lap times, they would be able to bring the team back up to position. A Le Mans start with Colin sprinting to kart #11 would kick off the four hours of racing ahead. Colin quickly brought the kart up to P1 in class and P3 overall and would hand the kart off to the second driver, Blake.

Blake and Greg were the two least experienced drivers on the team. However, with coach Scott in their ears, both Blake and Greg improved so much that lap times dropped greatly. Blake would hand-off the kart to Aidan in P2 Amature.

Aidan continued to maintain position and would pit to hand-off to Greg. Greg quickly brought his lap times up to a competitive stride and would finish his stint in P3. Greg pitted and handed-off to Astrid. It was up to Astrid to bring the kart back to P1! Astrid was also to complete the required “kart swap”. Following the rules, she hopped into kart #19, the P1 qualifying kart in the 500. Obtaining such a hot kart was partly thanks to good communication and part of the overall strategy. Astrid would bring the team back up to P1 by the end of her 50 lap stint, handing the kart back over to Colin and restarting the driver cycle.

DSC_0063cThe race was a pretty text book endurance race for the remaining 250 laps or so. Very few cautions would allow for “Team Garden Hoses” to continue to “hose down” the rest of the amateur field. With a great group effort both on and off the track, “Team Garden Hoses” would go on to win first place amateur and fourth overall.

As a side note, Greg and Blake improved so much after Scott coached them in the 500, Greg went on to win the Group B Winter League Championship with Blake right behind in second. Both Greg and Blakes’ parents thanked Astrid’s dad for coaching them as they too saw a big improvement right after the 500.