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Ayrton Houk: Sights set

Over the past few weeks, I have been given some amazing opportunities and participated in one of the most historic Formula Ford races in the world, the Formula Ford Festival.

It was my first time at Brands Hatch, and I immediately loved the track. We had three days of testing on the shorter Indy circuit, and a series of 45-minute test sessions resulted in countless laps to get accustomed to the track layout in a wide variety of weather conditions from heavy rain, damp, drying, and fully dry. I qualified fourth for my heat race and managed to finish third. I was looking to ride my momentum into Sunday; however, a hiccup in the semifinal set me 19th on the grid on Sunday afternoon. A hard-fought race resulted in a 14th-position finish in the final.

Overall, the experience was amazing, and the entire Ammonite crew provided top-notch equipment for me and my teammates. Throughout the week, I improved my race craft tremendously and learned about the importance of consistency, especially in wet conditions. It was also great to see my parents come over for the weekend as well since it had been almost six weeks since I had seen them last!

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After the Festival, I was invited to join the Sullivan family for a quick trip to Ireland. We left the following day and flew into Dublin, then drove west to the Cliffs of Moher. I immediately noticed that many of the roads were much smaller than the roads that I have been accustomed to over in the United States. There were many points where a two-way road only had space for a single car and we found ourselves pulling over quite often to manage traffic. After a few hours we safely made our way out to the coast of Ireland and were met with a gorgeous landscape. I was awestruck by the beauty of the cliffs. The sun was setting and the sky was clear. It was an amazing sight to experience in person.

In the evening, we grabbed some fish and chips at a local pub and stayed in a quaint bed and breakfast before heading out the following morning for the airport.

Shortly after returning from Ireland, Jack and I were granted the opportunity to tour the McLaren Formula 1 shop. Driving in and getting to see the amazing facility, I was met with a sense of awe; getting to experience a place that I have grown up wishing to get the opportunity to see. We were welcomed very generously to see many of the influential cars throughout the history of McLaren. I was even able to see Ayrton Senna’s 1988 championship car the MP4/4! Along with multiple Formula 1 cars I observed production cars like the 750LT, the McLaren F1 and even a Speedtail. In addition, we were shown their vast trophy collection holding trophies from the beginning of McLaren Racing. It was an exciting day and a long-time dream of mine to visit the McLaren Technology Center.

The following day, Jack and I experienced an English Football League Championship match in London at the Queens Park Rangers stadium, Loftus Road. The Rangers were hosting Leicester City. The environment was lively, to put it mildly, and the fans were very passionate. I had a great time as it was the first football game that I have been able to see in person. Leicester City ended up beating QPR 2-1, but the game was tense down to the last minute!

Our hectic schedule saw us on the road again just one day later when we were able to gain the taste of a GB3 car with Ammonite Motorsport at Donington Park. It was stellar. Our day was set up with two sessions each, split with a lunch in between. The car felt like a raging bull! The acceleration was unmatched by any car I have been in before, and with the downforce I felt as if I was glued to the track. The track felt amazing to drive and flowed incredibly well.

The second session felt much smoother, as I was starting to feel more at home with the car and learn just how much grip it really had. Taking Old Hairpin at over 115 mph was quite the experience! Not just corner speeds, but the brakes were also incredibly powerful. I remember being thrown into my belts after stabbing the brake pedal. It was a dream come true to drive the GB3 car, and I want to thank Team USA and the Ammonite crew for making it a possibility.

My sights are currently set on the Walter Hayes Trophy coming up this week. Testing begins in just a couple of days’ time, and the weather is looking wet most of the week; however, I am excited for rain! We have been quick in the rain sessions at Brands Hatch, and I look forward to carrying that into Silverstone. With only one and a half weeks left, I have had an amazing experience in the UK so far, and I look forward to capping it off strongly this coming weekend.

– Ayrton

Story originally appeared on Racer