Please wish the newest member of the Trackside Online a warm welcome! Max Hanratty, a Wisconsin native and Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda rookie will be blogging for us this season. The 21 year-old is driving the Juniper Networks/SynerComm Inc. sponsored No. 6 for ArmsUp Motorsports this season.
After spending the last two years racing F1600 in Canada with the Spectrum Factory team Exclusive Autosport on the treaded Toyo Tire, the transition to the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 series on the Cooper Tire has been challenging. The series is very competitive, and the track time is limited. With exception to the Skip Barber Winter Series, this will be my first year racing full time in the US. The first time I ever stepped in a racecar was July of 2012 when I did my 3-day racing school with Skip Barber. If it wasn’t for the help of a friend and his 5-speed Honda Civic, I don’t think I could have gotten the Skip Barber Formula car moving.
The track walk at the start of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was a huge tool for me going into practice one. I was able to see just how narrow the course is and get a good sight picture before I got in the car. I had very little time to learn the track as it was somewhat damp in practice one and it started raining mid way through practice two. After talking with the team we decided it wasn’t worth risking the car in wet conditions since the qualifying/races were going to be dry. It took me some time to find pace in qualifying. In Race One, I was able to just barely avoid a turn 1 pile up that took out several cars. After the restart I was able to gain a position before making contact with another competitor which caused the second full course caution of the race. Luckily the car was undamaged and I was able to bring the car home in 11th. Race two was a little more challenging for myself. We made a few changes to the car overnight that made it amore difficult to put the power down, which really made it tough to pass. After a horrible start I was able to gain back a few positions and take advantage of others mistakes.
I am thrilled to be with ArmsUp Motorsports this year. With the shop being only two hours from my house, I am able to go use their CXC Hydraulic Simulator to learn the tracks we will be going to all year. They have been crucial in my development so far and have created an environment where I can continue to learn and improve. I have been working with Linear Sport Owner and driver coach Steve Welk, who has played a large part in helping me make the transition to the new car and series.
On our final day at the track, I had the opportunity to do a tweet up with my teammate James Dayson, which was a good way for us to interact with fans, answer their questions, and to get more people interested in our careers.
I want to thank Juniper Networks and SynerComm Inc for helping to make this season possible. We were able to give some customers a behind the scenes VIP experience at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This week, we have Rounds 3 and 4 at the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana with the IndyCar Series headlining the event.