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  • Russell Soto

Racing Through my College Years

Hi everyone and thank you for visiting my site - it's the start of a new semester at Rutgers. My sophomore year promises to be as demanding as ever, but I like to think I've come armed with more experience and practice at managing my time. It's a week in, and so far I've been doing well at performing a balancing act of classes, work (I am now working as a Physics Learning Assistance) and as much racing-related stuff I can manage. On the eve of my 19th birthday, I'm coming at you with some updates.

As you well know, it's been slim pickings doing racing-related stuff. My main enemy - lack of funds - rears its ugly head. As you know from my last post, I've been doing practice sessions to keep sharp and improve as much as I can.

Always at Oakland Valley, with my chassis which is now running perfectly thanks for to a joint effort. My old friends and adversaries - Nick Leone and Hans Thomsen - as well as engine tuner Michael Ramirez, have helped me wind up with a chassis and engine that can support me in my effort to keep my level up and improve.

Nick continues to run me during these practice sessions. Data gathering and video reviews are vital in this: Nick and I have been using whatever resources we have to achieve progress and improvement. No matter what your level, there is always room for improvement.

The week before the start of the semester the SCDA - Sports Car Driver's Association - held an event at Connecticut's Lime Rock Park. I've always wanted to visit this track and I've driven it many times in simulation and I've always known it as a beautiful place.

Lime Rock Park is arguably one of the most significant race tracks in the United States, and it's a place full of history. It is located in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and just being there is something special.

My friends Nick Leone, Hans Thomsen and Rafe Shah were present. Nick and Hans are SCDA instructors, which is something that I intend to work towards. It was an opportunity to network and introduce myself to some people that might just help me take that step.

It seems to me that the difference between a "racing driver" and a BROKE racing driver (which is what I am!) is that one sits behind the wheel, while the other one networks, tries to meet people, shake hands and strike up conversations with "people that might know people." These events, and the opportunity to join an organization such as the SCDA, are vital for that reason alone.

Of course, drivers that are actually racing still have to do those things, as there never seems to be enough funding to keep you driving - so I was able to shake some hands and see some very nice machinery go fast, including some precious classic machines like this stunning Alfa Romeo GTV from the early 1970s.

My friend Hans was also able to let me ride in the right seat for a hot lapping session - more than ever, I long to be on the other seat...

All in all, it was a great day spent out in the beautiful sun at Lime Rock - bittersweet: I really need to get back in the car - this time on the left seat - but above all, it was great to reconnect with old friends over the activity we love so much. Thanks go to SCDA President Elivan Goulart, and to my dear friends Nick Leone, Hans Thomsen and Rafe Shah for letting me be part of this fantastic event!

I can't sign off without first expressing my condolences to the friends and family of Formula 2 driver Antoine Hubert, who lost his life a few weeks ago during a race at Belgium's Spa Francorchamps circuit. Juan Manuel Correa, an Ecuadorian-American driver also involved in the accident, remains in the hospital showing signs of improvement. I wish Juan Manuel a speedy recovery. Motor Racing is what it is - but with every lap those of us lucky enough get to drive, our love for this activity grows, and so does our understanding of why we take those risks. Tonio, surely every single one of your days is forever now as wonderful as the one me and my friends enjoyed at Lime Rock.

Again, thank you for reading!

- Russell

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