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  • Russell Soto

A New Year...and lots of questions

Hello everyone! I have to start by apologizing for not having written in so long. Obviously, the holidays, as well as the first semester of college, etc., have taken some of my time, and - after all - I have to keep my priorities straight.

As you might know, I am a Freshman at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ), with the aim of transferring to their School or Engineering next year. Adjusting to college has taken some of my resources, and part of it is dealing with being a college student, which is very different from high school, to say the least. Suffice it to say I'm doing well, and it's "steady as she goes" as I've now started my second semester.

Racing-wise, the Lucas Oil Karting Scholarship Shootout did not yield the results I hoped for, but still I was able to deliver a good performance. Thirty drivers were divided into 3 groups, out of which 15 finalists were selected, and eventually 5 winners. I myself was fastest in my group, but unfortunately I underestimated the sheer experience most of my competitors had in cars.

It does not seem like a great situation when I've only had two days in the car prior to the event (8 months before), and I have to compete with folks that have had years of experience driving cars - including formula cars - but as was said during the event, auto racing is more a business than a sport.

In the end, one has to reconcile one's thinking with that fact. While I demonstrated that I'm as quick or quicker than most of the people at that event - I simply do not have the budget to amass as much seat time as 99.9% of the drivers present.

So there are a lot of questions to be asked, and a lot of decisions to be made regarding my future in racing. It's a cruel activity, and a business, rather than a sport. I will always be at a disadvantage due to the fact that I don't have even a fraction of the budget nearly all the other people have, which makes it hard even to obtain seat time in a car or go-kart. Natural talent is important, but Michael Jordan did not have to try and find hundreds or thousands of dollars just to step into a basketball court and practice jump shots. That's just the way it is, I guess.

On the bright side, I was able to reconnect with some of the Lucas Oil instructors - always nice, professional and supportive. I was also interviewed by Brian Till, former Indycar star and currently a broadcaster for FOX and NBC Sports. Take a look:

I also have two onboard videos from my sessions at the shootout in the Multimedia section on this site. We kept switching cars during the event, and the two in the video presented very different handling characteristics - see if you can notice the different problems I had to contend with:

A racing driver has to contend with less than perfect equipment, and use his skills and experience to work around these problems. In a way, I am lucky that I've always had less than optimum equipment in my career, as it forced me to find my way around problems - and make things work.

And that is what I now need to do: find my way around the uncertainty that I have in my mind right now, and whether I can face the harsh economic realities of this business and commit to find ways to continue my career. The holidays are the perfect time to do this. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy and Prosperous 2019!

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