I entered the weekend with very little expectations and a bit of apprehensiveness as to what I was walking into. I have never experienced motorsports from this side, wait… or any side other than what I have seen on TV. I still consider myself as brand new to the motorsports and am learning more and more as I work with Operation Motorsport specifically the Academy.
That was quickly laid to rest upon meeting FEL president Chris Bye, Series Manager Jessica Benevides, and Jayson vanEerdewijk the Tech director (my boss for the weekend) along with the rest of his team. They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I was part of the team from the get go. I also had the opportunity to meet so many other great people from within the FEL Organization to the racing teams and all instantly squashed any of the apprehensiveness that I had coming into the weekend. The racing community is truly like a big family and truly made me feel as though I was part of the family.
Jason quickly put me to work and showed me the ropes and what exactly the Tech Teams role involved. He was very patient while answering any questions that I would have with regards to what was going on and why. During the slow times he would either take me to different parts of the track to watch the races or would make suggestions as to where to go to get different perspective of the race. I then worked alongside of Richard who again has a wealth of knowledge and showed me the ropes when it came to going to the teams and ensuring the cars were up to snuff. Finally I had the pleasure of working in the Tech tent where cars were brought in to verify that they were abiding to all regulations before and after coming off the track. Here I worked with Brian, and Kristoff who not only were amazing at their jobs but also would explain what they were doing and allow me to get some hands. The way that I was accepted and brought into the fold felt like that of the military where there was a structure, comradeship and everyone knew their tasking. Like the military this allowed for the mission, in this case the weekend to be a complete success.
As I stated at the beginning I came into the weekend with no expectations and a bit of apprehensiveness, but the way I was treated by the whole team from the beginning was a great diversion and allowed me to relax and get out of my own head. I ended the weekend with not only a wealth of information, knowledge of the tech side (although only a small part) and an insight to the motorsports world, but also a sense of purpose and belonging. I leave the weekend wanting more of that feeling again. Although it was only a couple of days it was great to have that feeling back again. So if you are like me and know nothing about motorsports but want that same feeling, then what are you waiting for?
I arrived from Edmonton, AB by plane on Thursday 15 July and was promptly met by Tiffany and Diezel at Pearson airport, where they provided a ride to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. At the park I was introduced to another beneficiary Mel Gallagher (team hospitality), who was extremely helpful showing me the ins and outs of a race weekend and introducing me to the TWOth Autosport team.
I was blown away with my first impressions of the track and the professionalism of the whole team. I was quickly introduced to some of the organizers of the SCCC who were also very helpful in explaining how the event was going to work over the weekend.
Most of Thursday was occupied by the setup of the teams paddock area where all the members of TWOth Autosport were very helpful and always willing to explain things, not only what needed to be done but also why.
After everything was accomplished for the day the team went inside one of the trailers to hide from the rain which was a great time for everyone to get to know each other a little better and for me to make a full introduction to everyone I would be working with.
During the rest of the weekend I was kept busy with fueling tasks for the car, whether it was practice, qualifying or race I was given numbers to add for fuel as well as the ability to pump the cars out at the end and calculate the usage.
At every point whenever I needed help, either Trevor, Travis, Theo or any number of other member of the team was always ready to assist whenever I required it. This gave me reassurance but they also gave me the freedom to do it myself and learn new skills.
From every member of TWOth to every member of FEL that I interacted with, I was always met with a positive attitude and a willingness to help me learn new skills and understand how a track weekend works.
I not only learned new skills in regards to racing weekends and all the work that goes on behind the scenes but also felt right at home in the team environment, which has a positive impact on anyone who is medically released or is releasing from the military and needs a place to feel like they are part of something larger than themselves again.
I learned many new skills and met a plethora of amazing people that I am happy to now be associated with and would love to work with again at any time in the future.
Today I am getting ready to go back to work and not only feel reinvigorated but also understand what is needed if I wish to pursue a career in motorsports after my time in the military expires.
Thank you to everyone involved in my experience.
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