FPAUDI: Team USA Autumn Trophy Brands Hatch preview

More Visits and Some Testing as Cameron, Podlesni Prepare for Final FPA Weekend November 10, 2006 ---- Team USA Scholarship drivers Dane Cameron and Robert Podlesni have continued their hectic schedule in England and are now focused on the...

More Visits and Some Testing as Cameron, Podlesni Prepare for Final FPA Weekend

November 10, 2006 ---- Team USA Scholarship drivers Dane Cameron and Robert Podlesni have continued their hectic schedule in England and are now focused on the final three races of the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy Series which will take place this weekend at the world-famous Brands Hatch circuit southeast of London.

On Wednesday, the two California teenagers headed first of all to the UK distribution headquarters of Snap-on Tools, which has joined the band of Team USA Scholarship supporters this season.

"I think we were both in shock when we walked in to see a sign reading 'Welcome Dane and Robert, Future Champions,'" related Podlesni, "We met with Terry Barcham, the managing director, who gave us a tour of the facility. He also gave us limited edition Honda F1 multi tip ratcheting screwdrivers. It was fantastic to meet with him and discuss our careers, ambitions and thoughts on the racing. I want to thank him for his company's support of the Team USA Scholarship, and hope to put on a great show this weekend at Brands Hatch."

There was one more surprise, too, as Cameron explained: "Mr. Barcham was gracious enough to make a couple of phone calls and arrange a tour of the Honda F1 factory. As if Robert and I weren't lucky enough to have already gotten a tour of the McLaren factory, we were now going to get a chance to visit our second F1 factory in less than a week!

"It really is amazing to see so many people working together to create the best possible product they can," continued Cameron. "We were shown around several different areas and saw first-hand how every piece on the car is taken apart and crack checked after every race and test, either using ultrasonic testing on carbon pieces or regular crack check dyes under the UV light. After seeing the extent to which the cars are maintained, we began to realize why the F1 cars seem to have so few mechanical failures. It truly is amazing to see the effort that goes into running a Formula 1 team, and we began to realize why it is the pinnacle of motorsport."

"We saw some of the factory's new expansions and upgrades, including a new machine shop and a FULL SIZE WIND TUNNEL!" exclaimed Podlesni. "It is a very modern facility, with true race fans working there. We were able to see how to manufacture carbon parts and learn about the different carbon weaves, strengths and resins. It is all very complex, but when experiencing it first hand, it makes much more sense."

After another day spent at Jonathan Palmer's impressive Bedford Autodrome base, Cameron and Podlesni drove south to Brands Hatch. On Friday morning they met with Steve Wills, who had been so impressed with the duo's brief time in his Formula Ford 1600 Spirit chassis one week earlier at Snetterton that he agreed to make the car available for another day of testing. The youngsters were able to provide more useful feedback as Wills continued to develop his car, while Cameron and Podlesni took full advantage to get a proper feel for the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch "Indy" circuit.

"The track is a lot shorter than most tracks in the U.S. but it makes up for it in the layout as well as in the presentation," said Cameron. "The only place that comes close in the U.S. is the new Miller Motorsports Park in Utah."

"It was nice to have some knowledge of the track, and get some laps in a wingless car," added Podlesni. "Driving without wings really takes the art of driving back to basics. We want to thank Avon Tyres, Jon Baytos, Steve Wills and Brands Hatch for their help and support today. It was a tremendous help to both Dane and I."

The pair are now itching to get back behind the wheel of their Team USA Scholarship FPA cars. The weekend will comprise a practice and two qualifying sessions on Saturday, followed by three 20-minute races on Sunday.

"I have a handle on driving the Palmer car, which requires a much different style than I am accustomed to," said Podlesni, who lies fourth in the points table after the first three races last weekend at Snetterton. "I'm looking forward to this weekend as I want to make a bid for the championship."

"I cant wait to get started," added Cameron. "The track is fantastic and I am only two points out of the lead in the championship so I think I have a great shot at the title. With three races to go anything can happen but I know I will be right there fighting until the final lap."

-credit: team usa

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