Hello everyone! It has been a year to remember and I thought after recently returning from Russia, it would be a good time to write a blog recapping our year and the trip overseas. First and foremost, I can’t thank everyone enough who has been following along and supporting us this past year. Your support means the world to me.
At the beginning of this year, it was unclear whether or not I would even be able to race. With two weeks before the start of the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda season, I was without a team and unsure of where to go. That was until we spoke with Don Conner at DC Autosport with Cape Motorsports. Only a week before the season starting, we signed a deal with DC Autosport, did a test day at MSR Houston, and were preparing for the 2018 championship. Fast forward six months and we were able to accomplish some amazing achievements. Together, we were able to win four races, finish on the podium 11 times and finish in the points in all but one out of a total of 17 races. We also now have the record for most consecutive races in the points for the F4 United States Championship. All of this secured us the championship, and with it, a scholarship valued at $230,000 to race in the F3 Americas Championship in 2019.
The $230,000 scholarship is not the only reward for winning F4; another one of the highlights is being invited to the year-end FIA Prize Giving ceremony. This is a very prestigious ceremony where all of the FIA champions from around the world, including the likes of Formula One drivers and teams, World Rallycross and World Endurance Champions, and junior formula champions from around the world come together to receive their championship trophies. This year, the prize giving ceremony was located in St. Petersburg, Russia… in December. Needless to say, it would be a new experience for this California kid but I could not have been more excited.
Both myself and my mom would be going on the trip so we got our visas and passports together, along with the heaviest coats we had and flew off to Russia! After 24 hours of travel time, we arrived in St. Petersburg. While I had traveled out of the United States before for the Team USA Scholarship, this was my first time going to a country where English wasn’t the primary language. This definitely made things like calling a taxi, asking for directions, or ordering food hard but it was also so much fun trying to communicate in different ways! A lot of times it involved pointing, acting out, and I will admit Siri may have made an appearance to help translate every now and then. We came into Russia a day early so we had time to do some sightseeing. We hit a lot of the major attractions including the Hermitage, Faberge Museum, Summer Gardens (which probably look a lot nicer in the summer I might add), and also got a cool, up close look at Hamilton’s F1 car which was on display in the city center. I was definitely geeking out over seeing his car, but little did I know I would be standing on stage with him later that day as well!
The Prize Giving Ceremony was held at the Great Philharmonic Hall. It was an incredible venue and wonderful atmosphere. There was a big crowd of fans gathered around the main entrance. As I walked through the front doors, I was greeted and taken over for a quick set of photos before mingling with the rest of the guests. As dinner was about to be served, we sat down at our table. Along with myself and my mom, there was Moises de la Vara from the NACAM Championship, F4 China Champion Jordan Dempsey as well as the German and Swedish F4 champions. Live Russian music was being played on stage while we ate our dinner. The F4, F3 and F2 champions from around the world were then taken backstage where we were all briefed on the procedure for getting on stage to receive our championship trophies. They counted us down and we all walked on stage for the trophy presentation. The eyes of some of my racing heroes were watching us as we stood on stage. It was such a surreal feeling.
The rest of the night was packed with fellow racers getting their trophies along with some special awards going out to personality of the year (Hamilton) and Rookie of the Year (Charles Leclerc). The night concluded with the F1 stars receiving their awards. Seeing Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel receive their awards was really fun to watch. Kimi was really having a great time which we usually don’t see in TV broadcasts. At the very end of the night, they called all the champions on stage for a photo together. I tried to snag a picture with Hamilton but the bodyguards were very good at their job. I did however get to chat with Kimi who was very accommodating! While it was hard to get much time with him as the majority of the drivers wanted to speak with Kimi, I did get to tell him congratulations and he gave me some words of encouragement for my future racing goals. I thought this was a really cool experience to share with the soft and short spoken “Iceman”.
All in all this is definitely an event that I will never forget and I am so happy I was able to experience this with one of my biggest supporters by my side! Thank you again to everyone who made this possible and in particular to SCCA Pro Racing, Honda HPD and Onroak Automotive. We are already working on our plans for next year and hope to have an announcement within the next few weeks!