At the beginning of the inaugural Formula Dodge National Championship season, there was little to distinguish Canadian Anthony Simone from a crowded field of accomplished karters and amateur racers. By season's end, there was plenty to set him ...
At the beginning of the inaugural Formula Dodge National Championship season, there was little to distinguish Canadian Anthony Simone from a crowded field of accomplished karters and amateur racers. By season's end, there was plenty to set him apart, and it was best reflected in points [most] and in finishing order [first]. Simone registered a record six wins en route to becoming the first Formula Dodge National Champion. Along with the title, Simone has earned an invitation to compete in the Skip Barber Big Scholarship shootout, to take place this November. The shootout is an opportunity for the young racer to advance to a fully funded season of racing in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Simone recently spoke with the Skip Barber News about his phenomenal championship season.
[Skip Barber News]: Tell us about your season. As a novice racer, what were you looking to get out of it? What did you get out of it? [Anthony Simone]: When I started I didn't really know a lot about the Skip Barber organization, I had never run in any of the series'. I wanted to win the championship but I knew there were lots of guys who were faster than me, it was going to be tough to beat them. I went to the first race weekend at Groton and I did all right [31 of a possible 42 points]. From there I figured I had a chance to compete and win this thing. What I got out of the season is that I ended up winning, though it was very difficult along the way. A lot of guys were trying to do the same thing I was. But it turned out very well. I'm particularly proud of my six wins over the course of [a 12 race] season.
SBN: How were you able to learn the vehicle so quickly? You seem to have taken to it and familiarized yourself in a very short time.
AS: Every time I got in the car, I got more comfortable with it. I didn't really have the budget to do extensive testing so I really had to make the most of my seat time. I tried to focus on what the car was doing and to get a good feel for the vehicle. That's what I did and it made the learning curve a lot shorter. Just by concentrating on exactly what the car was doing.
SBN: What skills do you continue to work on most?
AS: I believe that every time I get into a car, I try to focus on consistency and avoiding mistakes. I feel I should deliver good laps every time. I concentrate on braking points and turn-in and picking up the throttle. This year I made and got away with some mistakes. I've got to work on that, really concentrate on no mistakes. That's the only way you can continue to win. When you start moving up the ladder against better competition, you can't get away with them [mistakes]. It really is attention to detail and focusing on all the little things.
SBN: Was there a particular race or event that gave you the most confidence this season?
AS: I'd say the first race at Road America, the short course, when I recorded my first win. I thought, "I can beat these guys." I started to know the car. Then it was a matter of more focus and paying attention. I wasn't sure beforehand, but after Road America, I felt more confident. I tried to apply that mindset to the rest of the year in trying to put wins together.
SBN: What kind of preparation are you doing for the upcoming Big Scholarship shootout?
AS: I'm training a lot with weights. I have a bit more time than during the season so it's a chance to really prepare for the shootout. I've been training hard every day, focusing on the opportunity and thinking all the time about what I will do when I get there.
SBN: Tell us about the camaraderie with the drivers over a full season, the fun aspect of racing.
AS: All the drivers were amazing; great on- and off- the track. I'd race with all of them again. I knew they weren't going to do anything stupid in competition. All would give you room needed. And off the track, they were just a bunch of fun guys as were the people at Skip Barber, the mechanics and instructors. The Skip Barber personnel always gave me quality advice and I'd really hone in on the instruction.
SBN: What are you doing market yourself as a racer?
AS: Currently, I have my own web site [and have for most of the year]. I've also got a couple of managers and they are seeking appropriate sponsors for the Barber Dodge Pro Series for next year. They also do all my public relations in Canada, generating press releases to the major media channels. I realize that in racing, if you don't promote yourself, and get other people to notice who you are, it makes it more difficult to reach your ultimate goal of racing, mine is to race Champ Cars. This team has really done a good job promoting me. A lot of people now know who I am and what I've been doing all year.
- Andrew Torres