If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

My name is Daniel Justice, and I want to be a Formula One Driver.

"Hahaha! That's hilarious!" Is what you probably said when you saw the article headline. Well, no probably not, since it's not that funny. You're probably think I'm silly saying that, because what I wrote in the headline is like walking up to the hottest girl in high school, the one with a dozen other guys chasing her, and saying "Let's get married."

Actually that's a pretty good metaphor, as every racing driver wants Formula One, though I wouldn't go as far as marriage, and I'd approach that girl at school in a less frightening way. But I understand your skepticism that I'm assuming you have, since you have no idea who I am. Right now I'm just a high school senior with glasses, who drives a 2000 Honda Civic (it's a stick!) and sits on his laptop all day reading Jalopnik, waiting for the next Doug DeMuro article. But today, I want to take a break from my monotonous routine to share with you my dream. Formula One.

To introduce myself, I'm 17 years of age, a senior in high school as I just said, a resident of a small (ugh) Virginian town, a kart racer when the weather is warm and the money allows, and most importantly, a major racing, car, and motorcycle enthusiast. I started karting in September of last year, at 16. Yes, I know that I'm fairly old to think about F1 as a career, but it's a disadvantage, not an impossibility.

What's the plan?

Race car driver is one of those top tier careers, on par with others such as rockstar, president, and astronaut that you dream about in your first years of life. My dream didn't start then regretfully, so I must make do at 17. Combined with me being in the States rather than Europe and with our shaky financial situation, the odds aren't in my favor right now. I've educated myself over and over of the requirements and how to get there, so I'm not ill informed of the task at hand.


So the plan is to go for the top of auto racing. Formula One. In 2015 I'll continue with my two karts, in 2016 we should be able to run a shifter kart, and after a few more years in shifters I might be able to make the jump to British Formula Ford and continue working up the ladder.

So where do I stand right now?

If you haven't already figured that out, take a look at the head photo above again. (Sorry Sparco, I would have created my own photo but I love your shirt that I got for Christmas so much. It's the Sparco Aspire shirt also) Look at the bottom. That little kart is where I'm at right now. With 2015 days away, I'll be heading into my 2nd competition season in a few months. I raced twice in 2013, but that was to get used to the kart. In 2014 we attended 5 events, 4 of which were road races which have a Saturday and Sunday race (I'll be posting an article about road racing shortly). Doesn't sound like much, but over those 5 races, I've gone 100 MPH, purchased a second kart, (which was used to achieve said speed) had a nasty crash throwing me out of my kart, blown up two motors, kept up with faster class karts, made many friends and experienced the genuine, behind the wheel racing experience.


The Racing

So now I'd like to take you through all my races with the GoPro that accompanied me through each one. Note that most of these videos are full 20-30 minute races so I don't expect you to watch them all through.


First up is my race in June at Sandy Hook Speedway, after a 7 month hiatus of being out of the kart.

This was my 3rd ever kart race, so I'm not up to F1 snuff yet. Not to mention some issues with wrong gearing, a loosened spark plug, and brake dragging.


Now for the first road race at Summit Point's Shenandoah circuit.

This is a really badass track, even when everyone else is passing you. I was the only one in my class though. We still had some teething issues with the kart so I was one of the slower ones. Didn't get lapped though. To this day, this remains the only road race I have finished without mechanical incidents.


Now we go down south, right outside of Danville, VA, to the most beautiful race track you'll ever see in the United States. I speak of course, of Virginia International Raceway.

Unlike the last race, we were there to stay for the whole weekend. Friday we set up shop, and Saturday and Sunday we were all business. We found out that right away we wouldn't be competitive with the others in my class, as our bodywork is pushing too much air. Such would be part of our many problems, because at 15:25 in the video the piston began having a meltdown as I neglected the carburetor. It failed fortunately right at the start of the pit entrance. I coasted in and refired the engine, but the damage was already done. I retired out on the track.


Then Sunday came, and the luck seemed to have ran out. The clouds urinated all over the track, but the racers were called upon to make the track race worthy when there was a break.

Sadly the rain came back shortly after, and we left the track disappointed. But we had a plan for the track right in our backyard. Time to go back to Summit Point.

With our new, more aerodynamic sprint-enduro kart, I set off for Saturday's race under darkening clouds. Being the only one in my class with the fastest kart, I ran away with the "lead". However as the 3rd lap began, mother nature wouldn't let us finish our race, and I would experience something that I'll never forget.

I laid on the ground for a second and the karter I crashed into helped me up. I had no injuries at all besides a bruised back. Oh and a damaged nerve in my back. Which I still feel even today. So I guess I technically did get injured. The damage to the kart only consisted of a bent rear bumper sitting on the back wheel. No problem though.

Sunday's race. I should add that the entire weekend we were having issues with the cylinder head getting too hot. No kaboom this time though. This was my only other race I finished, but I brought the kart in a few times to cool the engine. So not my strongest result. But we would be back again in October to the same circuit.

Round 2. The video above is Sunday's race, never got around to uploading Saturday's race. You aren't missing much though, just me grenading another motor. Also, if your KT100 is getting ready to blow, please do not try to be a hero and save it. Pull off to the side when it starts to go. But anyways, this race is my best performance yet, setting my fastest lap time while being faster than my 2 classmates. I was even faster than some of the 125cc karts, you can see some action at 9:50. The last race of the year would not end with a happy finish though. The issue was...


...I ran out of gas.

Yep, that really happened. I sensed the issue and brought it in before it ran dry. Still, it remains my most notable race.


Those yellow gloves don't match...

Don't worry, I'm changing that for 2015. Going to put some more orange in my gear choice. I have a thing for Orange.



Well that concludes the year-end report of my 2014 racing season. I hope I didn't bore you with all the videos, causing you to go back to the front page to wait for Doug's next article. Road Racing isn't exactly the orthodox way of getting to F1, but it's a great place to get used to high speeds.


Like I said, Formula 1 is my dream, and I am very serious about fulfilling it. My promise to you is that I'll be here, right on Jalopnik, updating you on any progress. If you hear nothing more from me in the future, it might mean the money well ran dry and I'm trying to become a lawyer or something. Or maybe the right rear tire on my Civic that's showing it's cords gave up right in the s-turns next to the Shenandoah river, plunging me into it's polluted depths.

Things should continue to pick up in 2015. We should be able to pull off more races with more seat time. We've got a long way to go though. Have a great new year and see you next time.


For races in the future keep up with my YouTube channel here.

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