AMERICAN TRANS AM TOUR: NATHAN HERNE’S COTA DIARY #2
Nathan Herne has hit the Circuit of the Americas track, he is meeting new people and he is finding out the intricacies of the American way of life.
In today’s diary entry, Herne speaks about coffee, food, CamelBaks and driving around COTA, and almost having a giant shunt!
“Day 4 is done and I guess you could say we had a small win today, and managed to get on track when we weren’t meant to.
“Originally we were going on to the track today for some testing before official practice started but then that was overturned after they found out who I was and what I had done in Australia.
“The jetlag is starting to subside although I’m starting to stress on what’s going to happen when I head back to Australia for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International. It’s taken me four days to get over it over here and I won’t even have two days back before I hit the track, so no clue how that’s going to play out!
“Before we went to the track dad insisted I had some fruit salad that he had gotten me, and wow. I don’t know what the go is over here with fruit, but I’ve never ever had a sour kiwi fruit in my life! Until now.
“Afterwards, we decided we’d try a Starbucks to see if that had normal coffee and luckily for us, it did. The drive through was strange being on the opposite side and at one stage the chick said something to me and I looked right when I should have been looking left!
“When we got to the track I had a quick scrutineering with the tech guys and part of that was having to get out of the car in a hurry – just as a safety procedure. It’s something that is definitely missing from Australia!
“I hopped in fully geared up and they made me grab the first extinguisher and kill switch with my eyes closed. Thankfully that was in the same spot as Australia, so it went quite smoothly. Jumping out of the car, I surprised myself in how quick I could do it. These cars would be quite interesting to see a driver change in in the future, with the hour long races they can do over here, they’re not honestly that far off being able to do it. Although refuelling with a jerry can and funnel would be interesting …
“Marc took the first session on and I was sitting in the pits twiddling my thumbs looking at my car going around this awesome racetrack! It looked pretty chaotic from the pits, but when I finally got out in session 2 … Jesus christ! There was well over 50 cars from different categories which is pretty out there to say the least. But factor in that it was a session dedicated for people who had never been here before or raced with the series and there was blokes flying around left, right and centre!
“It got pretty awkward at one stage, I worked out that I could still push under brakes to work out brake markers and just fire up the outside of people if they were pulling up faster than me, (generally the traffic was a car length or two from the outside of the road) and there’d be no dramas.
“There was one guy cruising around out there, doing the right thing and minding his own business, until a little Australian came up behind him at full pelt.
“Now from my end, everything was under control and I had everything lined up and in plan, although as he’s obviously seen me in the mirror and panicked, he’s ended up hitting the brakes harder and following me in whichever direction I started going! I ended up just turning left and pinning it to the apex so I’d miss him and sure enough he was starting to come down there as well! At that moment I quickly realised what could’ve happened and I thought to myself that I need to wind it all down a bit, although I conveniently found the only part of the track that didn’t have a vast array of cars spread around so that worked in my favour. No harm, no foul.
“But I felt I came to terms with the car pretty well, although this thing handles much more like a V8 Supercar than an Australian Trans Am. So it’s been a very big learning curve!
“We had ‘Chick-fil-a’ for lunch which was basically KFC except without the oil. One thing over here is that everything is deep fried so over the years they’ve worked out how to hide or get rid of the oil. It was different having a KFC type lunch at the track, although I guess it’s another new experience and part of being here!
“In the afternoon we went off to a bloke called Mark’s house, he’s a top fella, has been great to chat to the whole trip over here and has raced with the Stevens-Miller Racing crew in Trans Am before. Most of the people you meet over here are really unassuming, Mark was telling us about his daughter who was a world class skier and how they’d been to Melbourne to ski in the Yarra a handful of times before for a competition there, and once you went to the backyard and saw the lake you quickly realised that sport over here meant something completely different to back home! Although, to be up there with the world’s best, I’d assume you’d want to be skiing everyday!
“Mark put on a proper Texas BBQ for us, and it was bloody good! We finished the night with a tour of the man cave. It was the first time dad had been to Mark’s house after I had gone there the night before and he was blown away, Mark had a chopper (road bike) in the shed tucked away and dad was foaming at the mouth for the thing! Although I think the motion simulator was another thing that caught his eye!
“On the way home we stopped at Walmart so I could grab a pair of jeans and a CamelBak (the variety in there is mental) and called it a night.
“I could 100 percent picture myself living here with a cowboy hat in the future, although there’s still more to tick off in Australia first!
“Thanks to everyone for all of the support since I’ve been over here. It’s been a cool trip to say the least. Our first practice is at 5:30pm today, before Practice 2 and qualifying tomorrow.”