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Road to Sweet Sweet Victory in Georgia

If you’re looking for a good way to get to know people you recently met, place them in a minivan and take a 10-hour road trip. Most of us find it awkward to meet new people because we are shy or afraid of being judged. Being a new member of the team, I try my best to fit in and not make too much noise but, this crew is something entirely different. They are extremely welcoming and are not afraid to show you their personality. While enjoying a good joke or two and teasing each other about past embarrassing moments, there is an immediate seriousness when it comes to doing their job.

At 2:30am we reach our final destination, Lamar county speedway, a small go-karting track in Barnesville Georgia. We all got situated as best we could to get a couple hours asleep for the long day ahead of us.

As we awake to a slow rising sun the next morning, my back aching reminds just how comfortable sleeping in a car is. With the sun shining its light, I can now see ahead of me the track that we will be competing on today. Other teams around us who had also spent the night in their cars are beginning to wake up as well and prepare themselves for the day. It is 7:20am and in short, I am tired and my back hurts.

As I get out of the van and stretch my cramped legs. The air was cool and the sun was just reaching over the top of the tall pine trees giving a light orange hue around the area. I walk to the end of the track to meet up with the rest of the team and the car.

I arrive at our team’s trailer and stop for a moment to take in the realization of actually being at a competition with a race team. For me, this was a dream come true and I began to help in any way I could. I watch the team huddle around the car, going through the checklist making sure every component was safe, secure, and working properly.

Hearing the car start up for the first time at a track, released a euphoria within me. The sound resonating from the muffler was like the sound of a 50-piece orchestra playing perfectly in-tune. The race track was the grand theater and the team were the maestros that wrote the soundtrack of this beautiful machine. People all turned and looked to see what the sound was coming from, kids stopped, and spectators began to come over to get a closer look.

We lined up the car for the first practice, securely strapped Trent into the cockpit and got the green. The car took off like a bullet and tore through the turns of the short winding track. Upon close observation, the rear-end of the car was losing traction in the tight bumpy corners so we brought the car in. Stanfield took a look over the data from the computer and made the necessary adjustments to the rear suspension; loosening the rebound of the shock in order for the car to gain better traction. The car was back out on the track for another practice run, and performed flawlessly. From that point on, our only job was to let Trent run the car as fast as it could go.

OR-16 was so steadfast the entire day while the other teams struggled one way or another with mechanical issues. When it came down to the final time trials, all Trent had to do was keep the car on the track. A task much easier said than done. He set the time to beat at 23.318 seconds. Waiting and watching as the other teams compete to beat Trent’s time was agonizing. The only school coming close was Clemson at 24 seconds. Georgia Tech came out strong then quickly ran into mechanical issues as well as Kennesaw State. Reliability is a difficult achieve in a race car, but our engineers took on the task and built a car that can handle the brutal forces it has to endure over and over.

After the victory, we headed back toward Kennesaw State University and stayed at Casey and Mo’s house, members KSU Motorsports and good friends of ours. They were gracious hosts and even though they threw a party that night, most of us were exhausted and decided to head to bed early. The next morning at 7:30 we woke up, packed our things and left. All of us anxious to get home in order to finish homework due during the week.

Even though the weekend had long nights and long days, the experience was unlike any sporting event I have ever been to. To be a part of a team as fun and hard working as this one, I look forward to the rest of this year. From getting to know more members of the team to seeing the car in action and finishing first, was something I could most definitely get used to doing. There is a lot more ahead of us in which we need to do such as, getting OR-17 built and tested, have OR-15 up and running, and begin business preparations for Michigan. Winning this weekend just goes to show that FAU Owls Racing is up for the challenge that Michigan will bring this year.

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