What a Ride! National Championship reflection

What a ride!  The Skip Barber National Championship presented by RACER has reached its conclusion. In my last e-mail I shared what it was like to go for and achieve victory. Since that time you all and others have sent me over 150 e-mail's of congratulations. It took half of yesterday just to read and reply them! I sincerely thank you all for your care and friendship.

So then, as you haven’t heard the tale yet, we did one more race, Round 14 of 14, on Wednesday at Mid-Ohio. In the morning I was feeling like I had just won the biggest job audition of my life. With this new role, it was back to work to put on a good show for the people there, and for everyone else watching via the Internet.

In Qualifying I had a feeling the car was going to be pretty low on grip to start out. We were almost a second off pace in the opening laps, struggling to carry corner speed in all the faster turns like Turn 1 and Turn 12. I just kept plugging in the laps waiting for the track to warm up and the tires to come up to pressure. Near the end of the session I put in my string of laps, all within a tenth of a second, and one flyer to secure Pole Position and a track record. A good exclamation point!

In the Race, I started from Pole and held the lead for a lap. Cole Nelson passed 2nd place starter Jordy Vorrath and was right behind me. Cole and I traded the lead for about five or six laps, usually swapping in the brake zone of Turn 7. Nelson was on a mission to outscore Vorrath to take 2nd in the overall points. But Jordy was not about to concede!

Half way into the race I was passed by Cole, and didn't see Jordy using both our drafts to get a major slingshot into the braking zone. Jordy went from 3rd to 1st in that corner, more to the surprise of Cole who was sure he had the lead. Those guys nearly hit at the apex, but their car control kept the contact at bay. They would do this near miss many more times into Turn 7.

Meanwhile I would make my first big error of the weekend in Turn 1 and give a position to Matt Varsha, then to Garret Zine. There I was, in 5th place. I thought, okay, it doesn't matter where I finish, but it DOES matter that I do my best. So, enough errors, lets get back to work.

As the race wound down, I found my way back to 4th place, then had a shot at 3rd, but Cole closed the door in the last turn (as I would have done to him) and I remained 4th at the finish.

At the podium, wise cracks abounded, photographs were taken, but the real satisfying part was watching the top 3 race finishers chase our Pit Lane Coordinator - Randy Buck off the podium to soak him with our substitute champagne (bottled water). Our beloved Mr. Buck had cleverly kept the drivers under control all season long despite our whining and complaining that we were always DOP (down on power) or other malady we probably made up for an unfair advantage.

After the race, season trophies were handed out by Divina Galica, our recently retired Senior VP of Racing, and by Bob Varsha, the SPEED Channel analyst who's son Matt Varsha finished 4th overall in points. One parent was so overcome by the emotion, he fell over backwards destroying a portion of our hospitality tent.

And so ended the 2005 National season.

What's next for Gerardo? My 2006 season began the next day, Thursday, with calls to sponsors and teams. I'll most likely be in the Star Mazda series. Of course, we are considering Atlantic, but Star Mazda is still a very compelling choice and probably the right step for a guy out of Formula Dodge. Look for an announcement in the coming weeks.

Thank you all, once again, for showing me your care. You have all made me stronger, wiser, and better prepared. I see racing as a dream job. I don't see why anyone couldn't achieve their own dream job, whatever it may be. If somehow by doing what I do teaches others to do better with their own lives, then I may have discovered the ultimate satisfaction.

Thanks also to the Skip Barber company, for providing this championship opportunity and the $100,000 scholarship award for 2006. Thanks to the office staff, mechanics, instructors, series officials, and the corporate partners Dodge, BF Goodrich, and Quaker State, without whom the series would not be the quality driver training championship that it is. Thanks to the BMS Group (www.burrismotorsport.com) for marketing and promoting my career.

Rick Roso's season finale recap is here



Round 14 of 14, September 6, 2005, Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 15-turn, 2.4-mile (no chicane) road course

Race length: 17.5 laps of 2.4-mile, 15-turn road course for 42.0 miles
Time of race: 28 minutes, 06.175 seconds
Winner's average speed: 87.108 mph
Margin of victory: 0.364 seconds
Lap leaders: Bonilla, 1; Nelson, 2; Bonilla, 3; Nelson, 4; Bonilla, 5;
Nelson, 6 - 7; Bonilla, 8; Vorrath, 9 - 13; Nelson, 14; Vorrath, 15 - 17
Fastest race lap: Nelson, 1:34.669 / 91.265 mph, lap 14
Fastest qualifier: Bonilla, 1:34.410 / 91.516 mph

Start position in parentheses:

© Gerardo Bonilla 2015    info@gerardobonilla.com