The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge road racing season is about to begin and it starts with the battle for the streets of St. Petersburg.
It is always a wild affair and, this year, it’s the season opener with two 50-minute sprint races as part of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. We open our season there as does the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The St. Pete event is a fun because everyone enjoys the Florida weather in March and people that have been in the cold are now ready for springtime. Even I can see how the weather matters sometimes. You can walk around the circuit and feel the great atmosphere.
I live in Bend, Ore., with my family. It’s a great place to raise a family but it can get cold there. In fact, we had a lot of snow this year in the Pacific Northwest. I did my share of digging out with the heavy snow pack. It was great for my upper body workout program but it can get old throughout the winter.
Just this week I was training with Alpine touring, a form of snow walking and hiking. Then you can ski down the hills. It’s great for an aerobic workout and good for training for the racing season as well in the thin air at about 7,000 feet.
Our GAINSCO team made some changes from last year’s No. 99 Red Dragon, with the biggest being a switch from the McLaren 650S to the Porsche 911 GT3 R for this year’s Pirelli World Challenge season.
It was a learning curve last year with the McLaren as we hadn’t had any real experience with the 650S. Bob (Stallings) wanted to make the change to Porsche and I wasn’t complaining as I have driven the Porsche previously.