With just a couple of days to go until the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, I thought I should write a little blog explaining it and how I got to where I am.
The Mazda Road to Indy Shootout is basically the ‘first step’ on the whole Road to Indy ladder. This year, about 20-25 Champions/scholarship winners from around the world were awarded a nomination into the shootout. I received my nomination by winning the BRSCC British National Formula Ford 1600 championship. Although everyone’s nomination has the same value, it is great to have won it by dominating all season just to give me that extra confidence boost. I won 75% of the championship races this year and when we travelled to the three trophy races it was great to win again, especially at the Festival at Brands Hatch in front of Jeremy Shaw.
The shootout will consist of driving sessions over two days, Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th of December. These sessions will include mock practice sessions, qualifying and ending with a race on Wednesday afternoon. Over the two days lap times/race finishing position will not mean everything, we will all be assessed on attitude, consistency, speed, not making mistakes, ability to overtake and provide feedback.
I have been very busy over the past couple of weeks trying to do as much preparation as I can before this once in a lifetime opportunity. One aspect that I have been working on a lot is physical training. I have been going to Declan Brennan’s renowned DBSM Centre of Excellence, so I have been up with Declan and working with his Trainers, Nutritionist, Physiotherapist and Psychologist to ensure I am 100% fit and ready next week!
I have also been doing a lot of work on iRacing trying to learn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as much as I can. I have never been to the track before, and I know that a lot of the other nominees have. Since I was a child playing racing games on my Play Station or Xbox, I have always loved Mazda Raceway and the idea of a blind apex, three storey drop that is the Corkscrew is just amazing.
Media and PR is a huge part of being a racing driver these days so all year I’ve really put a big push on improving my interview skills by watching back interviews and being very harsh on any mistakes and trying not to make them again.
I have to say the support I have received from firstly the BRSCC and also from absolutely everybody in the Irish Motor racing scene is unbelievable. Walking around Mondello getting congratulations from everybody, at the Crash and Burn premiere being wished good luck by Tommy Byrne and having people coming into Murray Motorsport asking for me and just having a chat about the whole thing. Irish Motorsport is such a tiny little community, so to have everyone get on board to help me try and break into the USA is astonishing, and very encouraging.
I will try and give as many updates as I can through my Facebook Page Niall Murray Racing and Twitter @niallmurray5 and be sure to know that no matter what the result will be, it will be an amazing opportunity to travel to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and drive against some of the toughest competition from around the world. If I come home without the cheque it certainly won’t be from lack of trying!
Until next time,
Header Image from Gary Hawkins, above image from Jakob Ebrey.