Mishael Abbott Moves to Formula Atlantic for 2008 Sebring, FL (January 6, 2008) -- Mishael Abbott is back on track and for the 2008 racing season she will be driving a Formula Atlantic with goals set for the Sports Car Club...
Mishael Abbott Moves to Formula Atlantic for 2008
Sebring, FL (January 6, 2008) -- Mishael Abbott is back on track and for the 2008 racing season she will be driving a Formula Atlantic with goals set for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Runoffs and a National Championship with K-Hill Motorsports.
Last August Mishael had the opportunity to drive a Formula Atlantic (Ralt RT-41) at Virginia International Raceway with K-Hill Motorsports; qualifying fifth and finishing third at the Oak Tree Nationals. She then decided to make the switch from the C Sports Racer and Formula Mazda she had been driving in 2007 to Formula Atlantic. Her next race had to wait a few months since plans for a December 9 wedding were taking up a majority of her weekends.
Mishael exchanged vows with Tyler Neier on the beach in Jupiter, FL and even before taking their honeymoon trip, took her husband and headed to a familiar track, Sebring International Raceway, for the Winter Vacation Nationals, January 3-6, 2008.
Unofficial practice was Thursday and Friday and Mishael used the time to shake-down her Formula Atlantic and get comfortable with the car both on the track and her positioning in the cockpit. Saturday qualifying was divided into two sessions on the 3.7-mile long course. During the morning session she only completed a couple laps when the throttle stuck open. Mishael hit the "kill switch" and kept from wrecking. She restarted the car and proceeded, but a few turns later the accelerator stuck again. This time she pulled the car off the track and had it towed back to the paddock. The problem turned out to be a heel stop in the footwell that came loose and rolled onto the accelerator.
The afternoon qualifying session started out better when she posted a quick lap of 2:06.942 (104.93 mph) on her second lap but going into turn 17 on her very next time around, the back end locked up and the car came to a halt. A shifting locknut had backed off resulting in the gearbox being completely destroyed. Unfortunately the gearbox couldn't be repaired and a replacement wasn't available before Sunday's race so Mishael was looking at an early trip home. Her time would have started her sixth on the grid of twelve Formula Atlantics.
Mishael's father, Paul Abbott, was racing her old Formula Mazda but amidst all the distractions with Mishael's car, his times were slower than hoped and he was to start near the back of the pack. They decided to have Mishael step into the car for Sunday's 15-minute morning warm-up session and afternoon race. During the warm-up session she was nearly 10 seconds faster than her father had been and upon climbing out, immediately started making adjustments to the car including gear selection and suspension setup.
The driver switch necessitated that Mishael start at the very back of the combined race group of Formula Atlantic, C Sports Racer, Formula Continental, Formula Enterprise, Formula B, and Formula Mazda race cars. Right at the drop of the green flag she started making her move through the field. She passed twenty-seven drivers in total, including cars in all race classes, before the end of the thirteen-lap race. Mishael finished fourth in the class of thirteen starting Formula Mazda's.
"It was disappointing to not make the Formula Atlantic race," said Mishael afterward. "We really learned a lot in the time I had in the car and were making steady improvements. I was glad to be able to get in my old Formula Mazda and make a run through the field. It was a lot of fun but at the same time I was running very cautious since there was no reason to risk anything."
The move to a Formula Atlantic race car provides both new challenges and opportunities for Mishael. The car is faster, more nimble and brakes quicker than other cars she has driven, allowing her to further enhance her driving skills. Racing a Formula Atlantic provides for an ideal return to professional racing and poises her for one of the world's premier open-wheel racing series.
"There is much more for me to learn about the Formula Atlantic," Mishael said. "I can improve my braking and gain confidence in the car's handling. I am looking forward to the rest of the season with K-Hill Motorsports and our sights are set on the SCCA Runoffs this year."
Mishael Abbott's next race is at Road Atlanta, March 23-24. Before then she will go to the K-Hill Motorsports shop facility in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania to pour a specially fitted bead seat and will schedule at least one full test session in the Formula Atlantic.