Quest For Micra Cup
I had been talking to the Micra Cup organisers for about a month, but the only way to confirm a car was to jump on a plane to Canada first, with no guarantees it would happen. With potential racing options running out for 2017, and a limited budget of my own personal savings, I asked myself a question:
"Do I travel halfway around the world to a country I've never been to, with no confirmed car to race, means to transport, maintain, or store the car organised in advance, and risk every cent to my name, just to keep my dream alive?"
Almost every significant decision in my life has revolved around the dream to become a professional racing driver, but this one had the most uncertainty.
Taking my own advice
When I get asked for advice about life, I'm usually the first to encourage people to chase their dreams. If it's something you would regret not doing, and the risk/reward ratio is favourable, just go for it. Follow your heart, chase your dreams and give it everything you've got.
While the anxiety from the uncertainty was almost paralysing, I knew it was time to take my own advice. There was no guarantee of anything leaving Australia, but if it didn't work out the worst case scenario would be a trip to Canada, and my racing plans for 2017 would be the same as before trip. So in the early hours of Monday 1st May, I booked my flights to Canada.
No time to waste
With the first Official Nissan Micra Cup Test Day less than a week away there was no time to waste, so I was on a plane on Wednesday morning only 2 days after the decision was made. From there it was a continuous 42 hour transit from Brisbane to Quebec City to take care of the first and most important part of the puzzle - acquiring a car.
The organisers of the Micra Cup were very helpful in gathering as many details about the car as possible before I made the trip, but we all know buying a used car is a gamble at the best of times, let alone a race car. To make matters more complicated, there was no time to test the car first. It was a matter of meeting the owner, inspecting the car, confirming important details and then the decision would be mine.
There was the additional challenge of a language barrier. Quebec City is one of the biggest French speaking cities in the world and unfortunately I speak ZERO French. In normal circumstances I would have made my best effort to learn French before the trip, but two days wasn't quite enough!
While some things were lost in translation, luckily the owner of the car, Jacques Belanger, spoke reasonable English. Jacques was a very friendly guy with over 20 years of motorsport history and importantly, he had good results in the car I was planning to buy.
This was it. Take the risk, buy the car and continue the racing dream, or go home and go back to the drawing board...
I arrived in Quebec City at 2pm Thursday, and by 5pm the deal was done. I am now the owner of a Nissan Micra Cup Car.
Race for seat time
With the most important step of acquiring a car now complete, the next goal was to find a way to transport it 250km to the Official Nissan Micra Cup Test Day at Circuit ICAR on the outskirts of Montreal on Sunday (7 May).
While it isn't mandatory I attend, with the high level of competition in the series, every lap in the car before the season starts will be invaluable, so I need to do everything possible to make the test day.
Fortunately, Jacques has offered to help me make the 3 hour trip to Circuit ICAR with the car and also stay for a few hours to get me started. Furthermore with the help of the Micra Cup organisers, I have a place to store the car at the circuit after the test until I came up with a permanent plan.
I can confidently say this is the furthest out of my comfort zone I've ever been, but I've already met some great people on this adventure and can now look forward to the main reason I am here - driving a race car.
My French is limited to the basic greetings and "Parlez-vous Anglais?" (do you speak English) which has also lead to some funny moments, especially when the other person can't speak English, but at least my charades skills are improving! Staying in cheap hostels and living off the free breakfast some days to save money has also been a challenge, but it's also lead to some great conversation while sharing my story of why I'm here in Canada.
I still don't know how I'll transport the car and where I'll store it past the test day, or how I'll prepare the car for each race weekend, but I'm working hard on that and hoping to have a plan by early next week.
I have a lot of work to do before the first round of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Toronto on May 19 to 21 so it's full steam ahead until then. It will be a big weekend as part of the Pirelli World Challenge round so I'm doing everything I can to be ready.
For now I'm simply looking forward to jumping in the car and learning as much as possible on Sunday. It's crazy to think, a week ago this was still just an idea...
PS: Thank you for all the support so far, it really does mean a lot! I'll be doing my best to keep you up-to-date with all latest through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and this blog so join me on my Quest For Micra Cup!