After a successful first season in the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, Extreme Speed Motorsports will return to the series with three full season entries and one partial season entry for 2016. Kicking off the season next month at Sebring International Raceway in support of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, drivers James Dayson, Max Hanratty, Naj Husain and Andrew Hobbs will each also return to pilot their four identical Elan DP02 race cars, powered by a 230hp Mazda MZR engine.
The 2016 race calendar will take the team to six different venues across North America, each event offering two 45-minute races in which drivers and teams can earn championship points.
This year will mark James Dayson’s first full season racing prototypes, after racing for several years in the Mazda Road to Indy’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The Canadian made his IMSA Lites debut last year at the Road Atlanta season finale, where he impressively earned a 9th finish after starting at the rear of the pack, in wet conditions. This year, Dayson will pilot the No. 16 ESM Elan DOP02.
Hardland, Wisconsin native Max Hanratty also comes to the team from an open wheel racing background, starting at the legendary Skip Barber Racing School. From there, he competed in the F1600 Championship before moving up to USF2000 in 2015 to become teammates with James Dayson. Hanratty first joined ESM mid-season in 2015, proving he could run at the top, and ultimately earning a 5th place finish. He returned to the series to compete in the season finale, earning a 6th place finish in the first race of the doubleheader event. He will race the No. 30 ESM Elan DOP02 for the 2016 season.
Technology entrepreneur and investor Naj Husain joined ESM for his first full season in 2015 after building a career in Radical Sportscar competition on club and national levels with the SportsCar Club of America (SCCA). Husain competed in the majority of the 2015 season, earning a top-10 finish at VIRginia International Raceway. He finished off the season with a 9th place finish within the Master Class. Husain will return to compete in the No. 3 Elan DP02.
Although commonly associated with former race car drivers Greg Hobbs, and David Hobbs, young Andrew Hobbs has worked diligently to honor the legacy of his father and grandfather as he continues to build his own motorsports career. After a successful career in karting, Hobbs also graduated from Skip Barber Racing School before competing in USF2000 and F1600 Formula F series. In 2015 Hobbs joined ESM for the Mazda Lites season finale, also his series debut, impressively earning 7th and 5th place finishes. Hobbs is currently only slated to run the No. 31 Elan DP02 for the season opener at Sebring International raceway, with the rest of the season to be determined.
“I’m really excited for the team we have assembled for the Lites Championship in 2016,” said ESM Team Owner Scott Sharp. “We have a great group of drivers who all have tremendous potential, and I fully expect each will have the best season of their careers. Furthermore, they are all great personalities who will provide strong chemistry for the team, and that is hugely important! We have worked tirelessly for the last 3 months to tear each car to the bare tub and build back perfectly. I expect great performance from our cars!”
The season opening event at Sebring International Raceway takes place March 16-18, hosting two rounds on the 3.74 mile, 17 turn circuit.
I couldn’t be happier to be signing with ESM for the 2016 Mazda IMSA Lites Championship. I did one weekend at Road Atlanta with the team and was very impressed. It was such a natural fit for me coming in. They run a very professional outfit and everything just seemed to click with me and the team. It also really helped that I had the best race in my career going from the back of the field up to a top ten in the rain.
There is a great group of guys at ESM and I feel we can make some great strides in the contending for the championship and wins this season. It’s going be fun to grow together and see what we can accomplish. We’ve done a lot of work to get ready for the season and I’ve been training hard. While I haven’t tested as much as I would have liked in the IMSA Lites I’ve been staying fresh by running a bunch of Pro Mazda tests the last few months.
I’m excited for the season to begin. I’m coming in with some big goals and to fight for top 5’s and the podium each and every race. My driving has come a long way and last year was a big step forward for me. I’m looking forward to continuing that momentum to get some continued success with ESM.
Oval racing – a very different beast indeed, yet a whole new challenge. This was my first foray on the “straight….straight, left & repeat”. I had tested on a 5/8 mile oval in November at Memphis International Raceway. We did two days there and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was very happy with how I drove and how quickly got adjusted to the new driving style.
Driving an oval is completely different. There is a level of finesse that must be achieved with every input. Many ovals do not require the use of the brake and Memphis is no exception. You are full throttle down the straightaway and then as you approach turn in for turn one there is a slight crack out of the throttle, as you come up to the apex and entry into turn two you are feeding more throttle back in so that a little before you exit turn 2 you are back to full power approaching turn 3 & 4. You repeat that process over and over again. All the while trying to drop your lap times by tenths of a second. At Memphis you enter high into turns 1 & 3 and drop down to the low line before rising back up on exit of turns 2 & 4.
Our team engineer, John explained to me that road courses fall within the 1 to 10 scale, whereas ovals fall with the 0 to 1. Essentially that means that everything is magnified. You will feel every small setup change on the car on an oval where you wouldn’t feel those small ones on a road course.
After the Indy road course my teammate Max and I heading down with the team to Memphis for a one day test to be ready for the upcoming race at Lucas Oil Raceway back in Indianapolis.
The day began with about an hour of half of solid track time, getting reacquainted with the oval sensation and nuances. I was playing around with my line going through turns 3 & 4 when I realized I had come in way too high into 3 the result was that I was coming out of 4 too high and before I knew it I had slammed the wall really hard going around 104mph.
I had taken quite the wallop and ended up giving myself a good deep thigh bruise from my leg slamming the shifter mount. Luckily that was the extent of my injuries, aside from the damage to my pride. The car was quite badly damaged on the right rear. The caliper had shattered into a number of pieces and sliced right through the wheel rim. Plus lots of other metal pieces of the uprights etc were sheared off.
The crew spent hours working their tails off to get the car back together and with 25mins to spare we got back out for few installation laps before calling it a day. I was disappointed that I had lost the track time which I had so desperately needed.
Finally it was time to head back to the racing capital of Indianapolis. The USF2000 series had a great oval seminar clinic where we were fortunate enough to have one of the indy legends, Rick Mears, join us. We also had the pleasure of Carlos Munoz, Simona de Silvestro, Bobby Unser and Derrick Walker also talk to us about techniques and how to begin to master the art of oval racing.
Thursday we had quite a bit of track time at Lucas Oil Raceway. It is another 5/8 mile track and is virtually identical to Memphis. The big difference is that Lucas Oil Raceway has progressive banking unlike Memphis which is the same constant angle from top to bottom in the corners. With the progressive banking it makes cars run the high line to take advantage of the better banking and thus get quicker speeds.
This was a big adjustment for me to have to make. The first session on track had some really cold temperatures and with the memory of my crash at Memphis fresh in my mind it caused me to be way too tentative and nervous. I really struggled to get comfortable that first session. I was running slower than I should, fighting the different higher line and not getting temp in my tires making the car feel unstable. I needed to go quicker yet I was having the mental blocks and doubts to prevent me from doing so. I was quite frustrated with the first session. I was also way off the pace.
I knew for the next session that I had to get my head out of my *^# and step up and drive. I got out there are went at it. I started finding a bit of the rhythm that is needed to help conquer the oval and soon enough my times began to slowly drop.
It wasn’t until the last session of the day that I got my personal best of a 23.654. I was happy with that but knew that there was more out there. I needed to charge into turn one and lift later than I had and carry more speed through. The same was true heading into turn 3. I was coming off the corners well and getting to power reasonably well but carrying more entry speed means you come out quicker.
Friday was a day off to enjoy Carb Day at IMS and the Indy Lights race. Saturday we were back at it. We had a morning practice session where I was going to do some qualifying simulations. Oval racing has a much different qualifying format where it is single car unlike road courses where we are all on track and have 30mins to get our best lap time. We did the first simulation on a set of scrub tires and then I came into the pits to switch to stickers for the next simulation. I really struggled getting the tires up to temp. I was way too cautious coming out and took too long getting that intial slick coating off the tires. That caused me to have less grip and that quickly turned into a lack of confidence. I hadn’t done well on the qualifying simulation on the stickers but stayed out and managed to equal my personal best lap time.
Next up was qualifying. Each driver had to draw numbers to see what place we would start our session. I had drawn #10. I sat on the grid in pitlane watching the other cars go out while trying to listen to Rob Howden announce the lap times. I knew I had to push harder than I had done before and that I had to put it all out there. I was quite nervous as I awaited my turn and was feeling lots of pressure, as everyone is solely focused on the car and driver on track.
Each car had their out lap, one hot lap before coming to start/finish to see the green/white/checker. That means two timed laps. The two laps are added together so its critical to get them both right. Finally it was my turn. I put all my fears aside and went at it. I knew I didn’t want to start at the back of the grid for the race which meant I had to give it my all. I went out for my out lap and pushed hard to get heat into my tires. I had my one hot lap and then as I came out of turns 3 & 4 I approached the start of my timed laps and the green flag. I knew I didn’t get the run out of 4 that I had wanted because I had got to full throttle a smidge of a second later than I should have.
I was so focused on what I needed to do. Next time by I saw the white and before I knew it I saw the checker. I heard my spotter, and coach, Steve Welk on the radio saying nice job. I came into the pits got out of my car so curious about my times. A bunch of the guys from the team came up to me as I was climbing out and said congrats and how they were proud of me. I was finally shown the times and I was pumped. My first lap I had done a 23.217 and my last was a 22.866, I had taken 8 tenths of my best!!! I was stoked. I ended up qualifying P12.
Shortly thereafter it was time to race. We had two formation laps behind the pace car. I was tucked in nicely behind the gear box of the car in front of me as we came through turns 3 & 4 with the grid all packed up awaiting the green flag. I was on it and managed to gain 2 positions heading into turn one. I managed to lose a bit of a gap to the leaders and quickly found myself with lots of space around me.
A couple of laps later I had Steve begin the calls for an epic battle with one of my competitors, Ayla. We battled hard, she was working to get around me. I was running the high line and whenever she was trying to make a pass she would drop to the lower line yet off the corners I managed to get good exits, causing her to tuck back in behind. For lap after lap I heard Steve, “looking inside” as she dropped lower, “clear” when I was back in front, or “closing…two away, one away” as she got closer and two car lengths to one car length. Apparently Rob on the PA system was calling our battle for much of the race. I was lucky that we had such a great setup on the car and that I could run quickly in the high line and when I needed to pass the lapped cars I could drop to the low line and quickly make the move before popping back in the high line. I really enjoyed the battle I had with Ayla and for around 35 laps she couldn’t get past me. Then all of sudden she pulled up the inside and got past. I was surprised because I hadn’t done anything differently and hadn’t made a mistake. A lap later I was around 7 car lengths behind. I didn’t understand how she had got such a gap to me already.
On the next lap I felt like I was loosing power and a lap later I crawled into the pits to retire with a voltage issue. I was devastated. I had been having such a great race and drove my tail off. I had only made it 44 of the 75 laps.
I was really happy with how I had driven on Saturday and how I had overcome the mental anguishes that I faced. Qualifying had been a blast, which I thoroughly enjoyed, way more than I ever though I would. The race was one of my best starts and was a lot of fun. I loved that my battle for position with Ayla was one of the highlights of the entire race. It was great to leave Lucas Oil Raceway and Indianapolis being proud of myself and my continued progress.
Next up is my “home” race in Toronto, Canada. Despite being from Vancouver it’s the only race in my country so by default its my home race. I love the track and the crowd and can’t wait to hit it up.
Thanks again for following my journey throught the 2015 USF2000 series with Arms Up Motorsports.
If anyone has any questions they’d like to ask or comments about the blog feel free to get in touch with me
Facebook: James Dayson Racing
The Brickyard. What an iconic track filled with such rich history. Every time I come to this place I think about all those incredible drivers who have preceded me. It truly is such a humbling place to be and one that I cherish each time I drive it.
The road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fun blend of fast and challenging corners, as well as being a blast to drive.
Here’s a quick rundown of a lap around the road course. Turn 1 you come into going a little over 140mph. It’s a heavy brake zone with pressures hitting 1000psi before turning into the 90 degree left hander. You bring the car over quickly from left to right to set up a good shot through the left hander of turn 2. Turn 3 is a gradual right that is flat out and then you approach the high spend turn 4. After tracking out left its quick dab of the brakes with some patience off throttle before being flat out at apex and down into the esses of turns 5 and 6. Then it’s down the Hulman Straight to set up another heavy brake zone for the left hander of 7. On the exit you need to kick left a bit to make sure you have a good angle for the full throttle right turn of 8. You sacrifice 8 a bit to ensure you get the left of 9 just right. A light brake here and make sure you don’t track out too far otherwise you mess up your entry into 10, which is critical as you come onto the oval (actually turn 2, but opposite direction). Another harder brake zone for the right at 12 followed by another light dab of the brakes into 13. This is yet another corner critical for getting a good shot out of. You need to be patient before getting back to power so that when you do go to throttle you can be full for the run up to 14 which leads back onto the oval for the front straight.
We had a lot of track time at Indy, and the more the better for me, since I love being in the car and seat time is king.
Wednesday was a test day and Thursday we had two practice sessions. The days were filled with making sure we had the optimal setup going into qualifying. I was very happy with my progress on those days. We knew the track would be quick and that the times would be close. I was happy to close the gap to the leader to 1.8 seconds and then the last practice session I was within 1.5 seconds, my closest yet this year.
I had been challenged in a couple of sections in the track. The first part was getting a good run off of turn 2 and by changing the way I put the car in there by getting a bit more roll (the side to side motion from left to right) in the car it was able to turn in better. I had also been having a slight lift off throttle and was creating a bad understeer for myself on the exit. By waiting for the understeer to come naturally and then lift it, allowed me to gain a few tenths.
Turn 4 I needed to make sure I tracked out to driver left all the way to set up a better turn in point. My biggest gains were in the very tricky complex of turns 7, 8, 9 & 10. By changing brake and throttle points to about 30 feet sooner I was about to roll more speed through the corners and most importantly get to power sooner on exits. Turn 13 proved to be my nemesis but that too began to improve.
It’s incredible the amount of work we put in by reviewing hours of video and data to scrutinize every second and every lap to see where we are losing time to our teammates. It is such a valuable tool to be able to use this information to help make us better drivers. Most people don’t realize the amount of time that we spend out of the car trying to find extra tenths here and there to go faster.
Friday morning brought about qualifying, I had a pretty good run, but I was a little bit off and my inconsistency hurt me with my result. I ended up qualifying P 14. I thought I would be a bit more mid pack than that and was a little disappointed. I knew the mistakes I had made and would have to put it behind me quickly, which I did as we had our first race a little after midday.
The sun was beaming down on the track giving a lot of warmth. We hopped in our cars and rolled to pre-grid before heading out behind the pace car for our formation lap. As we approached turn 12 the field formed up in position and as we exited 14 we saw the green. I had a pretty decent start and upon reaching the brake zone of turn 1 I had managed to find a gap between a couple of cars. I promptly took the spot and outbroke two of my competitors to gain the positions. I had one more I took going into 1 and then all of a sudden there was a car from further up the field who had spun. I was sandwiched and couldn’t go left. I swung out to the right but had another car beside me. I swerved to avoid the spun car but ended up clipping his rear end with considerable force. I ripped his rear wing right off. I kept going but by this point I was at the rear of the field. Now my attention had to turn to see how damaged my car was. I looked to see that my front wing was somehow miraculously still in tact and appeared to be clean. I kept driving and to my surprise was amazed that the car was in fine form. I had been incredibly fortuitous to come away from the incident unscathed. I guess my left front tire had hit his car at the perfect angle to not cause damage. Phew.
We went under safety car and I closed up to the field before the restart, which was not my best, I missed the jump and gapped myself slightly. I managed to quickly close the pack down and had some great battling for position. For the latter part of the race I struggled to get past a competitor despite numerous attempts. I kept closing and out braking him in the 1 and 7 but couldn’t find a way past. After reviewing video I realized I needed to do a much better job of boxing him out when I did pull up beside him in the brake zones. Lesson learned. I finished P12. I was very happy with my race and how I had driven, yet in the back of my head I couldn’t help but think what the outcome would have been after my great start and if I hadn’t clipped the spun car.
The next day, Saturday we had our second race. I was starting P15 and was anxiously awaiting the race to keep up with the work and progress I had been making. On the grid we were given the wonderful command, “start your engines.” I fired up and noticed that there was an error with the dash on my wheel. My engineer sprinted over to reset the system a few times but to no avail. I was going to be driving “blind.” I would have no lap counter, lap times, gear indicator no rpm lights etc. I was going to have to know my gear points based on sound and visually. Another challenge but one I wasn’t fazed by at all. I knew what I had to do.
I didn’t have the start I wanted but luckily the field had jumped the green flag and the start was waved off. On the second time by to green the field got it right and we were racing. I’d had a better start but couldn’t make up many positions. I was tight with the pack and made a great pass outbraking someone going into turn 7. It ended up being a fairly dry race for me as a couple of mistakes opened a gap to the field and I ended up pretty much racing on my own as I couldn’t close the gap. Racing by oneself is another challenge as you don’t have anyone to follow and battle with. It is quite easy to lose focus and towards the end of the race I certainly did.
I got quite confused as I rounded turn 10 and was shown a white flag and then again at turn 12. I thought I had missed the white flag, which signals one lap to go in the race, and the checkered flag. I came through turn 12 and noticed another car driving into the pits. I thought, oh well, race must be over and followed into the pits as well.
As I rounded the pit wall I heard cars drive past on the front straight and quickly realized I had made a massive mistake. The race was still on!!! The car I was following had a puncture. I had come into the pits a lap early. I was furious. I had thrown away a great result, I’d been running in P11 and because of my error I finished P15. I was devastated.
I went back to the trailer and struggled trying to calm down and forgive myself for my blunder. It took a while but eventually I was able to breathe again. This one is definitely going to sting for a while, but I can guarantee that I will never make that mistake again. The white flags I had been shown were to let me know that there was an injured car going slowly ahead of me. That was a good brain blank to have at that point in the race to forget the flags – DOH.
Shortly after the blunder we had the Indy Fan Tweet Up by the famous pagoda of IMS. I couldn’t believe how many fans had come out; it was awesome and made me think just how special this place really is. The fans here love racing and it is clearly evident. During the question period someone asked what the highs and lows are like in racing. I decided to own my mistake and shared it with everyone while it was still so fresh. It actually felt better sharing what had happened and helped me in my recovery from it.
All in all it was a great weekend and one that I am proud of despite what happened. I had raced hard and had some great battles on a level that I hadn’t had before in my short career. I had raced and succeeded on the most famous racetrack in the world.
Until next time, and once again thanks for reading.
If anyone has any questions they’d like to ask or comments about the blog feel free to get in touch with me
Facebook: James Dayson Racing
The last time I ran at Barber Motorsports Park was in February as part of our Winterfest races which comprised our pre-season races. The weather was very cold and wet, when the track started to dry I dropped a tire on the wet grass on the exit of turn 13 and was ever so quickly sucked into the wall, causing me to miss the first race.
Regular season brought new opportunities and challenges this time around at Barber. I was very excited to be back, it is such an incredible track and facility.
The track requires utmost attention to detail as the nuances of it make it a real challenge that tests each driver to the max. It is a flowing track and one in which the 17 turns have you always working and on your toes. The setting couldn’t be better, in the rolling hills of the charming city of Birmingham, Alabama where the people create a great welcome and warmth.
Barber can be split into 4 sections which are critical to gaining a quick lap. The first is the beginning. Your entry speed into turn 1 affects how you go through 2-3 which sets up the second straight down to turn 5. Carrying good speed and coming off the brake quickly will let you roll speed to the apex and getting back to power quickly will give you a better run down the next straight up to turns 8 & 9. You want to use all the curbing on the left of turn 8 and then be patient before rolling back to full throttle through nine and down to the esses where you are flat. Approaching turn 12 you turn in flat as the track drops away to the left. A quick dab of the brake and a downshift before reaching the apex of 13 and again you are back to full throttle leading through 14 & 15. Another light brake and two downshifts before rolling through 16. This a corner that you sacrifice in order to have a better setup for 17. A slight compromise and staying driver right will help you to be able to get to full power slightly sooner and stay that way through the banking of turn 17 and onto the start/finish straight.
The elevation changes at the track are much more dramatic than television or the on-board cameras perceive it to be. It is a thrill to drive.
Our weekend began with a promoters test day on the Thursday in which we had three sessions. The first couple was spent reacquainting with the track and getting in that flow and rhythm that every driver talks of achieving.
Friday morning we had another practice session and midday we had qualifying. I was improving lap times and pushing myself more. My goal for the session was to carry more rolling speed into the very quick sequence of turn 8 & 9, especially the high speed drop of 12 and rise up to 13. These corners are where lots of time can be gained if done right or lost if you make an error. Towards the end of qualifying I was on some good fliers when all of a sudden we had some issue. I had lost power, at first I thought I’d lost my gears. I pulled off on the escape road and tried to see what I could do, chatting with the team the whole time. Then I was able to grab a gear and headed back on track only to have the car lose all power. I tried rolling backwards to the escape road but couldn’t. Unfortunately I caused a red flag as they had to come and recover my car. This meant that I would lose my fastest lap as a penalty for causing the red flag. It was frustrating to have a voltage issue but that’s racing and things like that occasionally happen.
Things got sorted and late on Friday we had our first race. I was starting P15. I had a great start to the race and was right in the pack battling with my competitors. This is a challenging track to pass on and I never managed to make the moves I needed to. That being said I had one of the best races I’ve ever driven. Despite not getting the results I wanted, I got out of the car very happy with the progress I had made. I had achieved another personal best lap time and had pushed myself and the car to a different level. Those are the things to focus on while racing: if you keep improving the results will come. Being too driven by the results can often compromise the process that leads to the finish.
The next day we had much of the day off as we weren’t racing until late again. We spent part of the day watching some of the other races on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder which included the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights series. We then had the pleasure of welcoming back the fans from the Indy Fans Tweet Up. We brought them through the ArmsUp garage and showed them the cars. They certainly enjoyed getting the inside scoop and learning a bit of the behind the scenes of racing in USF2000. Our series autograph session at the Indy Fan Village was next. It was filled with many smiling faces of the younger fans who were incredibly well mannered and polite in their interactions with us.
Upon returning to the trailer I had the pleasure of meeting a young race fan and his father who had reached out to me on twitter. The child was so excited to be at the race and was an avid fan. I learned of some of his many interactions with drivers, mainly within IndyCar. It was great getting to interact with him and his father. They were incredibly appreciative and I was glad I was able to help enhance their experience at the race weekend. They will be attending the Indy 500 weekend and I told them to come back and visit us at our garage as we race on a different oval at the Night before the 500.
While hanging with my fans, well the two I previously mentioned, the skies opened up and gave us a fresh sprinkling and moistening of the track. The rain passed through quickly yet our race was slightly delayed as the track crew cleared as much of the standing water off the track. Finally it was go time. We had two formation laps behind the pace car, one more than dry races just to give all the drivers the opportunity to see how the track is. Then it was green flag.
I had a brilliant start from the back and a spin at turn 3 by a competitor gave me the advantage to take 3 positions. Wet races have been a struggle for me in the past, yet this time I embraced it even more and pushed myself to newer levels. I was more aggressive and craved greater efficiency in my execution in those conditions. I had some great battles for positions and was running fast lap times for the beginning of the race. I was going quicker than many of my competitors and gaining on them. There was a slight incident and we had a yellow flag bring out the pace car. On the restart I had a bad exit out of 16 and 17 and created a bit of a gap to the pack. I pushed hard and started closing on them in the latter part of the race. Unfortunately with a few laps to go I started seeing a warning pop up on my dash display. With two laps to go I barely made it back to the pits where I had to retire. It was incredibly disappointing as I was having such a good race and keeping great pace. It was a tough pill to swallow but things like this happen in this sport. Our team has always done a phenomenal job with the cars and our reliability. This was the first mechanical retirement from a race for the team since 2012. Hopefully it was the last for a very long time to come.
After the race we found out it was a voltage issue. I was proud that I had pushed as hard as I had and that my fastest lap had been done with only 25% voltage. Who knows what would have been.
All in all I left Barber very proud of how I had driven. It was equally sweet to get some recognition and confirmation of that from a couple of individuals in the media who cover our series. I can’t wait to get back at it at the hallowed ground of Indianapolis Motor Speedway for our road course race.
Until next time. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it.
If anyone has any questions they’d like to ask or comments about the blog feel free to get in touch with me
Facebook: James Dayson Racing