Slade Miller Experiences The Ups And Downs of Racing
Timaru, New Zealand (January 9, 2005) -- Team USA Scholarship driver Slade Miller encountered a wide range of emotions -- and weather conditions -- during today's pair of Talley's New Zealand Formula Ford Championship races at Timaru International Motor Raceway. Miller showed great promise during the morning's 12-lap event, finishing eighth in the rain and turning some very promising lap times. Unfortunately, his high expectations for the weekend's 16-lap finale, run in dry conditions, soon turned to frustration when the car's handling deteriorated and he was further handicapped by a lack of straightline speed.
"It was just a dog," said Miller after finishing 14th in Race Three. "The understeer was the most horrendous I've ever had in a Formula Ford. It was just scrubbing [speed] terribly."
Race Two on Sunday morning was held in very wet conditions and saw Miller start 10th in his white, red and blue Team USA Scholarship/Doug Mockett & Company Stealth/Van Diemen. A good start saw him move to eighth on the opening lap, and he was soon piling the pressure on New Zealand veteran Simon Gamble's Spectrum.
"The visibility was horrible," said Miller. "I tried to make a pass a few times but it was really tough because when you got off line, it was really slippery and you'd lose all the grip."
Miller was reasonably content with an eighth-place finish in a race dominated by teen-aged Christchurch driver Andy Knight, taking the checkered flag in the midst of a train of cars headed by fourth-place finisher (and former series champion) Phil Hellebrekers.
Miller's 14th-place finish in the final race was enough to take his points tally to 102 for the weekend -- ranking him an impressive seventh among the 22-car field. Miller had been expecting more, but he still acquitted himself well and has much to look forward to as he will contest next weekend's New Zealand Grand Prix at Teretonga Park, Invercargill -- the world's most southerly race track.
"I was looking for better results but this has still been a great experience," said the 18-year-old from Edmond, Oklahoma. "I have met a lot of good people and learned a lot about what makes these cars work. It has been good to drive in all sorts of different conditions, and this is a very competitive series. I'm looking forward to going on to Teretonga and moving up toward the front with the Team USA Scholarship car."
Race 2 results (12 laps): 1 Andy Knight (NZ), Stealth/Van Diemen Evo2, 15m 44.603s, 68.143 mph; 2 Hamish Cross (NZ), Stealth/Van Diemen, +19.286s; 3 Shannon O'Brien (AUS), Van Diemen RF03; 4 Phil Hellebrekers (NZ), Spectrum 010; 5 Matthew Radisich (NZ), Van Diemen RF02; 6 Christina Orr (NZ), Stealth/Van Diemen; 8 Slade Miller (USA), Stealth/Van Diemen. Fastest lap: Knight, 1m 15.111s, 71.476mph.
Race 3 results (16 laps): 1 Knight, 20m 48.556s, 68.798 mph; 2 O'Brien, +0.154s; 3 Cross; 4 Gamble; 5 Orr; 6 Radisich; 14 Miller. Fastest lap: O'Brien, 1m 06.254s, 81.031mph.
Talley's New Zealand Formula Ford Championship weekend points: 1 Knight, 217; 2 O'Brien, 202; 3 Cross, 187; 4 Gamble, 145; 5 Radisich, 136; 6 Orr, 114, 7 Miller, 102; etc.