The purpose of this blog is to inform those who are interested about my journey as one of three students from around the world who earned placements at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing as a result of the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy. Family, friends, colleagues, aspiring engineers, and any other followers are welcome to visit this page and, if desired, give me feedback or ask questions. It is an effort to streamline documenting the next 12 months for all of these varying audiences, some of which do not participate in social media.

I have never written a journal, never written a blog. This is a first for me. This being the most meaningful and fantastic opportunity I could ever dream of, I would like to share best I can the details of what goes on in my day-to-day during the academy. I am incredibly honored to have won a placement at Infiniti-Red Bull Racing, and I seek to make this opportunity worth everything it possibly can be.

I will write once or twice a week, depending on the accumulation of events and catching up on the previous few days. If you'd like, you can sign up for email notifications for when I create a new post! See the link toward the bottom of this page. I hope you all enjoy, and thank you so much for visiting!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Hope's First Visit

Now to the personal side of my life for a bit.  My girlfriend, Hope, visited for the first time the week before Thanksgiving.  She lives in Michigan, where we had met in the early summer of 2013.  At the time, I had been interning for SRT Motorsports at the Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills.  I decided to go back to CrossFit, something I had started in 2012, and I found CrossFit Bloomfield, a box relatively close to my hotel with better reviews than others in the surrounding area.  Hope was a coach there, and we immediately got along and built up a good friendship.  We joke about who asked who out first, but we both know it was her ;)

Hope and I met here, at CrossFit Bloomfield
We both love it!

Oh, and she is also a professional massage therapist.  Winning.

Come the end of the summer, we decided to stay together as I was confident that I’d be coming back for a career with Chrysler, and the long distance woes would be more than worth it for the 9 months I’d be in Maryland.  The University of Maryland is a whole 10 hours away from Michigan.  We shared a lot of visits with mutual friends and family, and we had a number of fun road trips together.

One of many road trips!

As we learned more about each other, our shared values and our fundamental differences, our relationship continued to grow stronger.  Trust, imperative in a long distance relationship, has been natural for us…a good and comfortable balance.  Her support of my studies and countless hours building the Formula SAE racecar at Terps Racing was unbelievable, and though it’s something I needed in order to be successful, it meant a great deal to me. 

Hope came out to the filming for the IPEA winner edit

And we had shadow puppet fights like we're 16 years old.  Never stop having fun!

Of course I’d like to think that I've done a decent job supporting her as well, and I've really enjoyed being a sounding board for Hope as she’s exploited her ambitions and developed her careers as a CrossFit coach and massage therapist.

Then I got the email for the Infiniti Performance Engineering Academy.  I knew this was perfect for me, and when I called her to tell her about it, I was nervous about her response.  But without hesitating, she came to the same conclusion, that it was perfect.  “How could you not go for it?!” was more or less her response.  The idea of me moving to the UK seemed a long shot for me, though right from the start, Hope said she knew without a doubt that I was going to get it.  Of course we were sad at the prospect of me not ending up in Michigan, but her support along with that of my awesome family and good friends was unreal.  As we know, I went on to be a winner in the academy, and her support didn’t waiver for a second.

"Always choose adventure."

Long distance goes to a whole new level when it becomes international, and the decision to stay together was a big one.  We've approached it in a really healthy way, looking forward to adventures, living life fully, and taking the moments for all that they’re worth.  Communicating often and having the next trip planned to look forward to is always a big help to avoid the potential struggles of long distance, and we've been doing great!

Hope flew in on Thursday the 13th and got to Milton Keynes in the evening.  Jason and Will gave a nice warm welcome, and we had a great time catching up.  On Friday evening, Sam came over and we all hung out for a while.  Continuing a tradition, Hope brought out a bunch of Nerf gun pistols, and we had an epic match in the flat between all of us.  Well, Will had a few interesting moments while wearing a clown bowtie and a driving helmet.  But we all already having fun, and it was nice for Hope to get to know the boys.

On Saturday, we went into London.  We got a late start and went to Piccadilly Circus to start off in a typical urban London setting.  It was fun watching Hope take in London and sharing it all with her. We walked around there for a while, hitting up Chinatown and moving toward Covent Garden.  Before we ended up getting there, I looked up a good Zagat-rated burger place in Soho, and we headed that way.  I hadn’t been to Soho before, and it’s a really neat area.  It reminded me a bit of the charming areas around Boston’s Quincy Market actually, with the relatively low skyline and vibrant atmosphere.  The burger place is called Honest Burgers, and it was phenomenal.  Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures near it, but it a boutique place off of the main streets that would be difficult to find if not for the internet search.  The prices were totally fair, and the burgers were delicious.

Happy and full, we headed out and walked through more of Soho and on back toward Covent Garden, going through the beautiful, narrow, brick-paved streets of the Seven Dials area.

Seven Dials

Covent Garden, as with a number of other neighborhoods in London, is beautifully lit up for the holidays. We enjoyed walking around there and stopping in some of the many shops.  It was a packed Saturday night, and the streets were crowded like how Rockefeller Center in New York City gets toward the holiday season.

Covent Garden

After a while, we decided to go to Harrod’s.  If you don’t already know the name, Harrod’s is an uber-luxury department store with some semi-affordable stuff too for the rest of us.  It’s also one of the best places to see supercars, as the store attracts wealthy individuals from around the world including some oil-rich Arabs from the United Arab Emirates.  Hope and I walked around the different levels, gathered 2 kinds of hot chocolate, a few awesome sweets, and a few other tiny gifts for ourselves and others.  We also browsed some super expensive areas, including the caviar and oyster bar and market, chess sets, and the art and sculpture selection.

Some of the luxurious offerings at Harrod's

Afterward, we went back outside and gazed at the windows, which reminds me of Macy’s displays in New York City during the holidays too.  The façade of the building looks fantastic decked out in lights.

Impressive window displays at Harrod's

We took a wrong turn searching for a Starbucks around Harrod’s, and it led us to this beauty parked on one side of the store, the first time I’d ever seen one.

Stumbled upon a Bugatti Veyron outside of Harrod's

After that, we found the Starbucks we were looking for and relaxed there for a while before making the decision to trek toward Buckingham Palace and to stop at Nando’s on the way for dinner.  It was a nice night out, and walking was preferable…we just had to catch the train by 11:29 to get back to Milton Keynes.  We were able to catch a meal at Nando’s before they closed, after which we hustled on over to the palace. It’s also a pretty sight at night.  We took a while to take it in and take some pictures.

Buckingham Palace at night

We had a narrow window to catch the tube for getting back to Euston on time in order to catch the train to Milton Keynes.  Needless to say, I was a bit freaked out when the entrance to the Green Park underground was closed.  It turns out that the entrance on the other side of the street was open.  So, we were able to get back to Euston with a decent cushion of time.

Except that the 11:29 Virgin train didn’t exist on Fridays or Saturdays!

We found out that the last Virgin train had left nearly 2 hours earlier at 9:45.  Wonderful.  However, we talked to an official who wrote a short note on our tickets to explain that we had essentially made an honest mistake.  We boarded a London Midland train, which takes about twice as long to get to Milton Keynes and on which our tickets weren’t strictly valid.  The train was absolutely jam packed, and a conductor never made it to us, so we didn’t have to deal with any messiness about the tickets.  We made it home and passed right out after a long, great day in London.

Unfortunately, Hope had a developed a cold by Sunday, and rather than make another day trip anywhere, we decided it was best to just chill out.  I made some soup, and we drank the 4 kinds of hot chocolate now in the flat, watched some movies, and had a relaxing day inside.  It was nice.

This ain't the soup your mom made you as a kid...avocado roasted red pepper soup with sweet chili sausage

During the week, I still went to work, and Hope’s cold worsened, so we avoided traveling for the rest of the visit to avoid exacerbating it further.  More soup and hot chocolate was consumed.

At the factory, I was introduced to Ricciardo for the first time as I worked on some stuff for the simulator.  From our brief interaction, I could tell he is a genuine guy with a very good sense of humor, but also very professional and focused.  There’s still a bit of shock to working with stars like Ricciardo and Vettel, and in general realizing what incredible talent that we work with at Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

On Wednesday evening, I brought Hope to the factory.  It was fun to show her the little that I could at the time…the car on the wall, the trophy cabinet, and the impressive presence of the building itself.  Sharing where I’ve been able to get to in life and seeing her excitement for me was great.  It was a nice ending touch to her first visit.

Hope was able to check out a tiny bit of where I work :)

Thursday morning was a bit sad as we had to say goodbye.  It went by so quickly!  Thankfully we have another visit to look forward to very shortly…can’t wait for the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Christmas party!

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