Hackley School’s “coffee house” last night was amazing, and we performed “Speedway at Nazareth,” a song recommended by Dean Case at Mazda over a year ago. After playing bass, guitar, or piano with the house band throughout high school for other student performers, it was an honor to end my last coffee house ever with my own performance.
At Daytona, Connor and I finished a solid fourth in class among 20 competitors in the Street Tuner (ST) class, and entered Sebring determined to continue building points toward the championship. With the clock running out and ST cars on their final lap, Connor – who had fought our No. 18 up to 3rd place – began to stall within several hundred feet of the checkered flag. We had two gallons of fuel in the tank, but a mechanical issue caused our car to sputter as if it was dry.
The No. 25 ModSpace Mazda was a few laps down after being hit in the early stages of the race. Its driver, Stevan McAleer, may be a competitor, but he’s also sponsored by ModSpace – and we’re all focused on a similar goal: to see ModSpace’s name on the podium! He made a split-second decision to push the No. 18 the remaining hundred feet across the finish line.
What played out was a movie-worthy scene that had fans on their feet but also perplexed to see a driver pushing a competitor across the finish line. The background story is interesting, and IMSA published an article (click on the link below) that I wrote explaining what led to this epic moment.
While Connor drove our #18 ModSpace RS1 to the front of the pack during the last 90 minutes of the race, Fox Sports commentator, Justin Bell, visited our pits for an interview. After an hour of racing in the car, I had barely caught my breath before appearing on camera, but I was honored to have the opportunity to highlight our sponsor, ModSpace, our amazing RS1 team, and my co-driver, Connor Bloum.
The RS1 team, including owner Justin Bellinzoni, chief engineer Louis Malone, and our strategist, coach, spotter, and Jedi Master, Nick Longhi, helped Connor and I deliver a solid P4 finish (4th out of 24 cars in class) in our #18 ModSpace RS1 Porsche. After qualifying on pole, Connor drove an amazing first stint of our four hour endurance race, and delivered the car to me in the top position in our class. Through no fault of our team or drivers, a simple technical issue with our fuel hose delayed our pit stop, and combined with a drive-through penalty, we found ourselves in last place. No pressure…it’s only my first race of the season, my co-driver, Connor Bloum, expects me to return the car to him on the lead lap, and principals of ModSpace, our team sponsor, are watching the race stream on live TV! I focused ahead and tried to tune out everything except the voice of Nick Longhi, guiding me through traffic and past several competitors. An hour later, I was in the pits, jumped out of the car, belted Connor in, and stumbled into the pit box seat, mentally and physically drained but relieved. Louis gave me a pat on the back and some congratulatory words for returning the car to Connor unscathed and on the lead lap. Now with Connor – one of the fastest professional sportscar drivers in the world – behind the wheel, we watched the #18 ModSpace RS1 edge through traffic towards the front. With points awarded for our 4th place finish, we’re off to a solid start towards a season championship. I cannot thank ModSpace, RS1, Justin, Louis, Nick, and Connor enough for the experience and amazing first race of the season.
Today was an amazing start to our 2017 racing season, and my inhuman co-driver, Connor Bloum, drove the fastest lap in today’s qualifying session. Tomorrow, we start on pole! Additionally, we announced a new sponsor for our No.18 Porsche – ModSpace Motorsports! I can’t thank the amazing team from ModSpace enough for their support and encouragement.
You can watch tomorrow’s Daytona race, from 12:15 to 4:15, at IMSA.TV. Look for the #18 ModSpace RS1 Porsche in Orange/Chrome. You can spot this car from the moon, so it shouldn’t be hard to spot among the pack.
Below is the team’s official press release regarding today’s Pole win:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Connor Bloum, competing in the No. 18 ModSpace RS1 Porsche, secured pole position for tomorrow’s race at Daytona for the Street Tuner (ST) class. Connor set the fastest lap during the ST class qualifying session with a lap time of 2.04.900.
Connor returns to RS1, winner of the 2016 IMSA CTSCC team championship in the Street Tuner (ST) class, for his 3rd consecutive year. Last season, he secured three podium finishes while piloting the No. 19 RS1. Residing on the West Coast, Connor works as a professional driving instructor with the BMW Performance Driving School in Thermal, California. When not racing or instructing, he enjoys surfing and paragliding.
Joining Connor for the 2017 season is rookie Aurora Straus, a high school senior at Hackley School, Tarrytown, New York. In 2016, she competed in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, and two CTSCC races, securing two top-10 finishes. Aurora is currently the only female teenage sportscar racer competing professionally in North America. When not studying or racing, Aurora enjoys playing the guitar, bass, piano, and performing as an acoustic folk singer-songwriter. She was recently accepted to Harvard University’s class of 2021.
RS1 is also pleased to announce that Connor and Aurora will compete in the No. 18 with support from Modular Space Corporation (ModSpace), based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. ModSpace is the largest U.S.-owned provider of office trailers, portable storage units, and modular buildings for temporary or permanent space needs.
“I’m delighted to team with Aurora in the No. 18 ModSpace RS1, and to kick off our season on the pole position at Daytona,” said Connor Bloum. “This relationship with ModSpace is exactly what we all work towards in the sport. It’s a huge vote of confidence, and we will do our best to deliver for everyone involved.”
“Racing for ModSpace in the No. 18, with a seasoned pro like Connor, is a dream come true,” continued Aurora Straus. “Balancing school and racing has always been a challenge, and I intend to give ModSpace and RS1 my best efforts.”
Building on 50 years of experience, ModSpace serves a diverse set of customers and markets-including commercial, construction, education, government, healthcare, industrial, energy, disaster relief, franchise and special events-through an extensive branch network across the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.ModSpace.com or http://Blog.ModSpace.com.
RS1 -The Race Development Center is located in Pompano Beach, Florida. They offer products and services for racers of all experience levels. Their full service shop builds racecars, provides arrive-and-drive services, and manages a championship professional racing team in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. To learn more, please visit www.rennsport-one.com.
We’re preparing for our first official practice of 2017 – the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” – and it will be another year of balancing school, music, and a full season of racing. Just two days after I return to high school from winter break (and college applications!), we head to Florida to work with Jeff Segal and Nick Longhi, both IMSA GT and GS champions respectively, at their Miami “GPX Lab” simulator training. After a day training on a simulator with Jeff, Nick and I head to Daytona International Motor Speedway for three days of testing with RS1 in our updated Porsche Cayman racecar. My co-driver, Connor Bloum – one of the fastest professional drivers in North America – is a seasoned pro at Daytona, so I look forward to learning with Connor and Nick as it’s my first time at this famous track.
We’re preparing for our first official practice of 2017 – the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” – and it will be another year of balancing school, music, and a full season of racing. Just two days after I return to high school from winter break and hundreds of hours dedicated to college applications, we head to Florida to work with Jeff Segal and Nick Longhi, both IMSA GT and GS champions respectively, at their Miami “GPX Lab” simulator training. After a day training on a simulator with Jeff, Nick and I head to Daytona International Motor Speedway for three days of testing with RS1 in our updated Porsche Cayman racecar. My co-driver, Connor Bloum – one of the fastest professional drivers in all of North America – is a seasoned pro at Daytona, so I look forward to learning with Connor and Nick as it’s my first time at this famous track.
In the eve of the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup’s races at VIRginia International Raceway this weekend, I talked with Dennis Michelsen on Race Talk Radio about my feature in Mazda’s recent commercial, “The Driver in All of Us,” my amazing experience with ModSpace and Mazda Motorsports, and life as a younger driver in the series. Here it is:
I’m ridiculously excited for another weekend of extremely close racing this weekend at VIR; more details to come!
I was recently featured, along with a few other Mazda Motorsports drivers, in a Mazda USA commercial. All 3 minutes are filled with emotional, heartfelt stories that encapsulate perfectly why we all fell in love with the sport. The people I’ve met in this community have the most amazing stories- listen to some of them by clicking the link below.
In my first trip to the infamous Canadian Tire Racetrack, The Global MX-5 Cup had an action-packed and bittersweet weekend. Although contact in the middle of both races took me out of the competitive pack, I got to meet a group of local kids, many of them girls, anxious to meet some of the drivers in the Mazda MX-5 series. Despite two disappointing finishes, seeing the faces of young girls excited to meet women in motorsports offered a silver lining to the weekend and reminded me why I race.
Two days ago at Watkins Glen International Raceway, I nervously strapped in to the #18 RS1 Porsche Cayman in my first ever Continental Tire Series Challenge Race. Although I was starting from 24th in a large Street Tuner field, I knew that the guys at RS1 had given me an amazing car at a track I knew well, and I was excited to see what racing the new series had to offer.
After an hour and a half of some of the most exciting wheel-to-wheel racing of my life, I handed off the car to Justin Piscitell in 10th place, who then drove the car up to 8th!
The #18 ST was flawless, thanks to RS1 and their amazing team. Also, a special thanks for the support from team drivers Spencer Pumpelly, Nick Galante, Connor Bloum, and Greg Stretzloff. None of this would have been possible without Nick Longhi, GPX Lab, and GrandPrix.com. It was surreal to race in the same series as Stevan McAleer, last year’s IMSA Continental Tire ST champion and my mentor since driving my first car.
Also had the amazing opportunity, thanks to Mazda Motorsports, to meet some Mazda racing fans later that weekend, which is always a blast! I look forward to seeing everyone again next weekend at CTMP for our next Global Mazda MX-5 Cup with McCumbee McAleer Racing!