My First IMSA Prototype Challenge Race

Greetings from the (what feels like) the arctic depths of sunny Florida! This weekend was my first race in the IMSA Prototype Challenge powered by Mazda series and I had a blast. 
Going into this weekend my biggest goal was to be consistent and bring the car back in one piece. Going into practice one the temperatures were extremely low, making it impossible to get the cars up to temperature. Sticking to my goal of keeping the car on one piece I decided to sit out the session and wait for it to warm up. 

By time the second practice rolled around I was eager to get back on track. As soon I hit the track I knew right away the Performance Tech guys had set up my car perfectly. My muscle memory took over and I was able to relax into the car. The timing of the second practice lined up with the race the following day so I really focused on getting used to the car and track at that temperature. 

I returned to the track Saturday morning more relaxed than I expected. I knew I had to push hard, early to get the car up to temperature. I surprised a lot of people in qualifying by running a lap two seconds faster than the rest of the field and breaking a track record. I knew I had more in the car and couldn’t wait to get to the race.

Come time for the race I had a bit of difficulties on the start. The engine was not up to temperature yet so I decided to play it safe and hang back for a lap or two. As soon as it reached the right temperature I was able to breeze past my competitors into first place.

From there I decided to build myself a gap, reaching a 30-second lead on the field after just 20 laps. Unfortunately I hit some debris off of an LMP3 car and it cost me the race. Although I drove the remaining hour and 20-minutes with no left splitter or fender I can't complain about coming back from three laps down to finish seventh. The lack of downforce made the car harder to drive, but seat time is the key to getting faster so overall this was a great learning experience. 

Even though it wasn’t the outcome I wanted I was super happy with the weekend overall. My car felt great and I really love the Performance Tech team. It’s time I hop on the simulator and start getting ready for Sebring so I can be the best version of me yet. 

Wyatt Schwab