Taegen Takes on F1600
You know that feeling from when you were a little kid the night before a big day? Not being able to sleep and anticipating all the possibilities of how the next day would unfold? While the weekend of September 11th to13th might not have been my birthday, the first day of school, or Christmas, it was a weekend I think I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I was going to finally make my debut in the Toyo Tires F1600 series. I know it’s not typically accepted to miss the second day of school, but I had the best excuse. I arrived at the track for the Friday practice and the weather was great and the time on track was even better. I improved and learned more every session, getting more and more excited for the weekend to come. Of course, the nice weather was too good to be true. Race days were cold, rainy, and downright miserable. If it had been any other weekend, it might’ve dampened my spirits, but the excitement was undeniable.
For first practice, the rain was on and off, making the Mosport circuit a bit more difficult than it was in the dry. However, it gave me a good starting point for the weekend, as that was the forecast for the entire day. So I went through, short shifting and watching my brake pressure. Qualifying was difficult, and I was around mid-pack. It wasn’t too bad for my first race, but naturally I wanted more.
Before the race, I was nervous. Pacing around until I finally got strapped in, all the testing and fundraising and work I’ve been doing seemed worth it; I was officially about to be a racecar driver. Driving up to pit lane, I was getting ready for my first start in the F1600 series. When they let us on track, I was coming around the last few corners, filed up in 1st gear like I had been told, and was anticipating the drop of the green flag. Now, it turns out I was too far back to actually see the green through the spray, but I heard over the radio that it was time to go.
Navigating my way through the first few corners was difficult, but I was around a bunch of great racers. A few laps went by, and just as I was settling into my pace I made a rookie mistake. I locked up my front tyre while braking into Moss corner and went straight into the gravel pit. I was devastated, the year long buildup feeling like it was all for naught. Luckily, I did get towed back onto track and completed the race, albeit a few laps down. The car wasn’t damaged, meaning that I could bring it around for the finish and work towards a better day on Sunday.
The BGR team (myself included!) didn’t go out for morning practice, not wanting to risk the car with the ever-continuing rain, so it was a long wait until qualifying after lunch. Finally, went out on track, where I qualified again around mid-pack. I was satisfied. For my first weekend it was definitely a good start. Determined to redeem my rookie mistake of the day before, I focused on keeping all 4 wheels on track and did a relatively good job. Navigating my way through some chaos in the first corner, I got to do some racing in the first few laps before the field spread out, where it turned to survival of the fittest. I was having so much fun, despite it not being a wheel-to-wheel race it was unlike any other experience I’ve ever had. And, for the record, it was the best 7th place I’ve ever received. Jumping out of the car, I was so excited to see my family and the BGR family because the exhilaration just had to be shared. At that moment I knew that being a racer is what I was meant to be.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to anyone who has helped in any way to my racing career, whether itwas by contributing to my 2015 racing campaign (which you can still do!) or even moral support. Seeing the car decorated with your names made the experience all the more special. As well, my sponsors,
Arai Americas, Inside Track, JRP, Sparco and Tonto Designs have supported me the entire way, and have been a huge part of getting me to where I am now. I wouldn’t be where I am without you guys.