Guest Driver Blog: Daniel O’Donnell of Professional Awesome


Jeff Westphal Mike Lewin Driver Download Professional Awesome Global Time Attack NJMP New Jersey
In all seriousness Jeff was able to immediately download to Mike Lewin after his stint in the Evo VII; his input would prove valuable and improve the car. When I asked Jeff what he thought about the car he indicated it was very well sorted, made good power, and had great feedback. 

The New Jersey weekend was perhaps our toughest event to coordinate for in the history of Professional Awesome. For two weeks leading up to the race Mike was abroad in Turkey doing “work.” There is speculation he was constructing international Popeyes franchises, but he insists it was working on Caterpillar generators. Regardless, we were down a man due to Mike’s absence. This left Grant with the unappealing task of preparing the car with yours truly… You see, I am generally more hindrance than help. Luckily, the car has been running flawlessly all year and so preparations only involved minor detail work. We haven’t had to do much beyond changing the oil and occasionally washing the dead bugs off of our Evo since our appearances this year in Atlanta, Palm Beach and Minnesota.  Regardless, all the work fell upon Grant’s shoulders and as usual, he handled the burden well with his infamous gruff demeanor and Weezer playing on Pandora.

On top of Mike being gone, I had agreed to be a groomsman at my cousin’s wedding in St. Louis the weekend of the race. My plan was to go to the ceremony Saturday, fly to New Jersey right after, break records and bathe in champagne. Simple right? Well, apparently groomsmen have more responsibilities than just being at the ceremony and after some “gentle” persuasion and minor yelling; my family convinced me that I had to stay for the reception. This was beyond a slight inconvenience as this meant I couldn’t fly from St. Louis. What happened next was a blur that involved driving through the night to Chicago, catching a 6 am flight and arriving with just 3 sessions left to defend my previous lap record.

Professional Awesome Evo VII Global Time Attack New Jersey Motorsports Park Lightening Circuit
In watching the PA Evo crest turn 1 at NJMP Lightning Circuit it was apparent the suspension was sorted. Out of all of the cars I observed it appeared to handle the turn in to apex (which involved bouncing off the rumble strip) with the least amount of bump steer. While other cars would counter steer during this rebound the PA EVO was able to handle this with steady steering input. 
When I arrived in New Jersey I was greeted by the ever-flawless Jeff Westphal and that handshake. Although I knew he had broken my previous record, I had not realized he had done it so effortlessly. I knew the car was faster than last year, but for the first time I felt heavy pressure to perform. (WD: did the fact that I had my money on you help that Dan?)  I was exhausted from the travel, but all the familiar faces had high expectations for me to surpass Jeff’s time. (WD: Did I mention I don't like losing money Dan?) I thought to myself, “He set the time in three laps with an unfamiliar car; I will have to break his time in two laps!”
Professional Awesome Crew Mike Lewin Grant Davis New Jersey Motorsports Park
Grant Davis and Mike Lewin of Professional Awesome strategize on how to make me some $. I mean they discuss data to improve the car and put Dan ahead of Jeff!
First session over and I wasn’t even close. 1:11.9xx. (WD: the exact time doesn't matter because at this point Dan was still getting his ass kicked) Not good. Mike insisted I try and rest, but my mind was going over every turn, every braking point, anything I could do to improve my times. Then I did what anyone looking for the extra edge would do; I CHEATED. I looked at Jeff’s datalogs compared to my own and could see the points he carried more speed than me. He had gone into turn 2 a whopping 20mph faster; embarrassing to say the least! Armed with that knowledge, session 2 couldn’t arrive fast enough. Would I match the speed he carried? Was the lack of sleep hurting my focus? 
Jeff Westphal Daniel O'Donnell Date Overlay Global Time Attack New Jersey Motorsports Park
I asked Dan to send me the data overlay comparing him and Jeff. I was hoping to see Dan's lap before he cheated… Here we see just how much Jeff's data helped Dan. 

Once out on the track everything went away and it was just the car and I connecting the dots between turns. I took Jeff’s advice from Palm Beach when he suggested I drive with more anger. Sometimes I focus too much on being smooth and the aggression helps me push that little bit further for those few extra tenths. The car responded and everything clicked. I carried the extra 20mph in to turn 2 and I also figured out how to take turn 1 better than ever before; Three years at the track to learn one turn! (WD: Now that's progress man!

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