POV: MAAP Intern Jack Gavin
“I found something where I can combine my automotive passion and interest with the skills and knowledge that I’ve learned from the classrooms at JMU.“MAAP Intern, Jack Gavin
Daytona 2022, what an experience! After my first motorsport experience with Cole and the JDC Miller Motorsports team in October 2021, I was bitten by the motorsport bug and had been looking to get more involved in the racing world. I asked Cole if it was possible to be more involved in the 2022 season and he knew just the person to put me in contact with. I was offered a spot as the Data Engineer on JDC’s Audi TCR program just before the new year. Before I knew it, I was on a plane heading down to Daytona International Speedway with equal parts nerves and excitement. Before the race at the end of the second week, the team had multiple test sessions to get the car dialed in and get comfortable with each other. I had done some preparation with data acquisition before going to Daytona, but it had been for fun and without any motive. During the first couple of practice sessions, I was really thrown in the deep end and new information was coming at me out of a fire hose. With some late nights, guidance from Cole, and the helpfulness of the rest of the crew, I was up to speed just in time for the race with newfound skills and knowledge. Our practice sessions went off without too many hiccups, and we were one of the faster cars going into the race.
The race fell short of my first-timer, over-excited expectations and our little Audi snapped an axle not an hour into the 4-hour race. This was pretty crushing to everyone after the two weeks of effort the crew put in. But after 35 minutes, the car was off the air jacks and heading back out on track as the excitement continued. I am also the Fuel Strategist for this season, and it was very nerve-racking doing this for the first time. It was my job to make sure we put in the perfect amount of fuel to make it to the end of the race with the least amount of fuel remaining in the car. My heart was beating fast as I watched the car go around the track for the last couple of laps. I checked my calculations 2 or 3 times a lap it felt like, just to calm myself down and tell myself the car was going to cross the line.
As I watched the car cross the line with the checkered flag flying above, I felt a couple different emotions. The biggest one was relief that I brought the car across the line with enough fuel and did not let the team down. As I was packing up my things on the timing stand, I felt a big smile come across my face. I was happy that I found something where I can combine my automotive passion and interest with the skills and knowledge that I’ve learned from the classrooms at JMU. After my Daytona experience, I can see myself pursuing a motorsport engineering career. My time at Daytona would not have been possible without MAAP, Cole, and the awesome friends, donors, and people behind MAAP. It would be an understatement to say that I am excited for the rest of the season, and what the rest of my career looks like. Thank you MAAP and Cole.