Swedish rookie Thed Bjork had been looking forward to Vancouver, especially since the middle part of the season. Racing for the first time in North America this season, all of the tracks that the Barber Dodge Pro Series has visited in 2000 are...
Swedish rookie Thed Bjork had been looking forward to Vancouver, especially since the middle part of the season. Racing for the first time in North America this season, all of the tracks that the Barber Dodge Pro Series has visited in 2000 are new to him. Vancouver, while new to Bjork, was also new to everyone else in the Pro Series as it made its first appearance at the Concord Pacific Place street circuit in the heart of downtown Vancouver. That levelled the playing field for Bjork who was robbed of likely victory at Mid-Ohio. He has performed very well throughout his rookie season as he resides eighth in the overall standings and is the second highest-placed rookie.
Following is his account of his first visit to Vancouver, British Columbia.
After Road America I had decided to stay in the States. I flew to Washington DC, to live with a Swedish family in McLean, Va. Do they really run the entire USA from this town? Fortunately, I have some friends here- au pairs from Sweden. After the season is over I might return here myself and work as an au pair- the pay isn’t bad, and I would really get along with my co-workers. I think I could be quite successful in this city, and I think that really there is not too much difference between an au pair and a powerful US Government official. The Fogarty brothers said they would pay me if I would overthrow the government, but during a really busy racing season I don’t really have the time. I do think I could be President, though. As a racecar driver you never know what the next day is going to bring, but I had a great week training and relaxing for Vancouver.
My expectations for Vancouver were quite high. I really looked forward to race again after both Mid-Ohio and Road America. Because Vancouver is a street course, I knew that this weekend was going to be tough. I felt that I could do really well, but I didn´t know that the weather was going to make it even more difficult...
I flew in on Wednesday to Seattle and the first thing I saw was Mt Rainier rising through the clouds and made the sight of Seattle very impressive. At Sea-Tac airport I had to wait for my friend Magnus from Sweden to arrive later that evening. I am not allowed to rent a car because my age so Magnus was doing the driving on the road that week. During the day I took a bus downtown and walked around a bit for the fun of it. When Magnus came we drove up to Vancouver, and there we had a room downtown. It was a special hotel, very low budget, but just for sleeping it was okay and the track was just nearby. I don’t think I’d recommend it though. On the other hand we had a great place to eat around the corner, Rossoni Italian restaurant. I like to charge up for a race with pasta and chicken. I was surprised and disappointed when I went in the kitchen and did not find Nilton (Rossoni) preparing my meal.
Friday, the first day on track. First practice session and what happens? Rain! A wet street track and we go out with slicks! It felt like the time to take it easy and just see where the track took you. Learn the line. I don’t think that this day was anyone’s day, just before our first qualifying the rain started to come down again, now rain tires were put on and that took time from the session. Even more silly was that the track dried fast as soon as the session started, and some people started driving like crazy. At the end of the first day, we had just a few more fast laps before they called “black all.” If I sum up the first day in Vancouver, I got a few laps on a wet track with slicks and a few laps on a dry track with wet tires. This will make Saturday very exiting.
Second qualifying early on Saturday morning worked much better. We got more free laps in and I started to figure out the track. I ended in seventh position and thought that it was possible to do a good race from that position.
I prepared myself to do a clean race and 40 minutes of driving, as everyone knew that there were going to be some yellows. You just don’t want to be the one to cause them. I had some problems to get the grip right away and was fighting for sixth and seventh place.
It got crowded at the start but otherwise the race was clean. I had big problems in the end when we started to lap people. I caught up with the places in front of me but lost them totally when one of the lapped drivers almost put me in the wall. So a sixth place finish is better than ending up in the wall I thought. My expectations were set higher but circumstances made it not possible this time.
So I really look forward to Laguna Seca next weekend!
The race day rounded off with a party that we were invited to by John McCaig. It became a really nice evening…
Thank you John and Ann McCaig.