Trackside Online would really like to thank Garth Rickards for taking the time to blog about his experiences at the recent Chris Griffis Memorial Test.
The Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania native, who has only been racing for four years, began his racing career at the Skip Barber Racing School. After one season of “Skippy”, the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group sponsored driver progressed to the F1600 Formula F Championship Series, where his nine podiums, one win, three poles equaled a second place championship finish while driving for Team Pelfrey.
Moving up the open wheel ladder to USF2000 with the Palmetto, Florida based team, Rickards found himself in a season long scrap for sixth place in the USF 2000 championship. Preparing to be a professional race car driver is a career in itself, however like his sponsor Rahal, Rickards has found the time to go to College; just finishing his coursework at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.
His mother, who unfortunately passed away after a long battle with lung cancer in 2012, was the inspiration for him making the decision to pursue a professional racing career. Rickards recently signed with Pabst Racing for a second assault on the USF2000 championship, but is still looking to complete his budget. You can help him out by donating to the Come Ride With Me to Sop Cancer drive, where 10% of all money raised goes to the American Cancer Society.
Here is Garth’s blog:
“The Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Circuit of the Americas was absolutely awesome to say the least. This was my first visit to the facility and it was truly amazing to see it in person. As we drove closer to the track and I saw the enormous viewing stand it all sank in that I was going to be driving on a track that some of the best drivers in Formula one race at.
I rode in with a few of the Pabst Racing guys who I was testing with both days and was truly exited to be testing with them. I think I may have told them how pumped I was to be back in a car and testing with them just a few times…. or ten. Once we got there and the guys were unloading I took some time to check the place out only to realize we were going to set up camp in the Torro Rosso garage!
Towards the end of the day, Tonis (my engineer for both days) and I went on a track walk so that I could see each corner and take some more notes. It was a really productive track walk and I really enjoyed his comments, we even got to talk about how squeaky my shoes were down the long back straight. I knew at this point I was going to have a hard time sleeping because I was so exited even though I had been traveling sense 3am eastern. The team and I grabbed some traditional Tex Mex before heading back to the hotel and resting up for the saturday morning test session.
This test was much different than my first USF2000 test because I didn’t need to spend any time learning the car and was focused straight away on the track, my driving, and working with my engineer. It was difficult to gauge where we stood after the first session because it was full wet when we went out and then almost dry when the session was over, so tire plans played a major role in lap time. I wasn’t to concerned because our goal was to simply make sure my seat fit was ok and to get up to speed on a new track. Over all the first day was very productive. I felt comfortable right away with the guys at Pabst and was really happy with our progression throughout the whole test. It was quite different than being with Pelfey because at Pelfrey I was used to having four cars under the tent. It was definitely a change going to a smaller two car team, but I really enjoyed testing with Pabst because they are so focused and really made me feel at home.
Everyone always asks how the learning curve has been since my first time ever racing was in 2013 with Skip Barber. To be honest, Its been challenging. But since I’m still new to the sport compared to my competition, I really don’t know any differently. I’ve been raised and taught that if you really work hard for something and are truly passionate about it, you can make it happen. Of course I’m realistic with my thoughts and know it is extremely hard to make it in this sport but I don’t want to look back and say to myself ” man I could of put more into it”.
Also, my mother is a huge inspiration to me, watching her fight cancer for four years after her first doctor told her to go dig a grave, sticks with me every day. She was fighting for her life and unfortunately cancer beat her but in my eyes she won and proved that even given months to live she fought it for four more years. Thats the kind of focus I want to have in my racing. Of course I have had a lot of challenges the past couple seasons but it’s all starting to come together, and I’m really excited for the 2016 season because I have a really good feeling that I will be fighting for the championship.”