28 April 2010

Ready to Rumble!

You may not know her yet, but you soon will! Let me introduce you to Justine Jackson, one of this years VW TDI CUP drivers. She's 19, fresh up from karting, and ready to rumble! She won her place in the TDI Cup Series, and garnered a grant from Lyn St. James' Project Podium, to help offset the cost of racing!

Justine contacted me in January after reading an article about Helle Nice on the ESPN F1 racing site. The message was very timely, as I had just returned from Helle's village of Ste.-Mesme, outside of Paris, that afternoon, having spent most of the day there making plans for the ceremony to place the marker on Helle's grave. Little did I know, Justine would become such an important "spoke in the wheel" . She did not hesitate when I asked her to place the Foundation logo on her car.

I am going to wish her much good luck, quick reflexes, and smart decisions in her upcoming race in New Jersey this weekend, and leave it at that point from me. I am putting Justines press release regarding her first 2 races below. Kevin York, of York Motorsport Group, said in an email to me today that he is " impressed that she has an apparently genuine ability to take what she experienced during that weekend and spin it positively", and that she does. She has processed her performance, and is happy with it as a beginning. Please let her know you support her in her efforts. It's very important at this time in her career. She may not feel it, but she is courageous, determined, and inspiring, both to those of us who never tried racing, and already to those who are looking up to her as a role model, both in her native Jamaica, and those watching her here! Helle would be proud!
The following is Justine's official press -


The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series kicked off its season with its two opening rounds at the VIRginia International Raceway on April 23-25. Justine Jackson, rookie driver in the #40 Project Podium sponsored car had a great weekend finishing 21st and 19th in Races 1 and 2 respectively. But it wasn’t the results that made her weekend a great one.

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series marked the first time that Justine would race in a car having had 6 & ½ years of Karting experience. It all began on Thursday when Justine and her dad, Andrew arrived at the track early to get properly seated in her car and later on a track walk with driving instructors Jan Heylen, Andy Lee, Ryan Arciero and Mark Miller with on track action starting at 8 am Friday morning. In practice 1 Justine ended the session 14 seconds off of the pace but with further analysis of her data with the driving instructors and more seat time, by the end of race 2 Justine was 2.5 seconds off of the fastest lap of the race!

Race 1 was a good race for Justine. Despite running around the back, she was able to show why she loves to race and why she’s in this series having fought back and forth with guest driver Tony Swan and huge race veteran. Race 2 was a bit of a disappointment. Justine got off to a great start and picked up 2 places going into turn 1 but was unintentionally tapped on the rear bumper and spun. Returning to the track she spun again, forgetting that her tires had dirt on them. She would lose 23 seconds to those ahead. Despite a bad first lap Justine kept her head down and fought her way back up, making up those 23 seconds finishing a respectable 19th place.

Justine had this to say:

“What a great weekend! Despite some disappointing results I had so much fun this weekend, the most I’ve had racing in a long time. My goal for the weekend was to get comfortable in the car and to gain as much seat time as possible and that’s exactly what I did. And it showed in my improvement in my lap times and confidence on track. It was so awesome getting to work with all the other drivers and the driving instructors who were so willing to help out! This race weekend was not only my first race in a car but my first race in the United States along with several other series. I was especially excited to see the Rolex Sports Car Series. I learnt so much throughout the weekend and there are so many great people involved in the series and I feel so blessed to be apart of it! A big thank you to my sponsors Project Podium and its partners, Jetcon Corporation, and the wonderful support of the Helle Nice Foundation. I could never have done this without my Heavenly Father and I’m so grateful for such a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to Round 3 at The New Jersey Motorsports Park and I can’t wait to get on track and continue to learn more and move up in the pack!”

Justine Jackson

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