“Although it was a tough week with unexpected problems, in the end, we were quick” – Garrett Grist
Although the results sheets will not reflect it, 2012 Team Canada Scholarship winner Garrett Grist enjoyed a strong showing at the internationally renowned British Formula Ford Festival, and quite ably displayed the quality of driving talent produced by this country.
After a day of seat making, pedal adjusting, track walks and getting acclimated with his host team, Cliff Dempsey Racing, it was all down to business for the first day of testing.
Wednesday brought the first on-track session under wet, but drying, conditions. Learning the new track under such challenging conditions, Grist kept pace with the fastest cars, posting times in the top five by the end of the first test period. With times continuing to drop in the second round of practice, Grist maintained his top five status until a fuel pump failure led to a fire in the engine compartment, ending his day prematurely. Quick work by the track workers saved the car from serious damage, and the CDR mechanics had the car ready for Grist’s return on Thursday morning.
An ‘off’ on the rain-soaked Brands Hatch circuit cut short Grist’s test time, and the problems continued on Friday as a faulty carburetor in the car was ultimately diagnosed and replaced. Despite his issues, Grist was able to consistently stay near the top of the timing sheets.
Facing a dry track for the first time that week, Grist went straight into Saturday morning qualifying and the Team Canada driver was eventually rewarded with the fifth fastest lap.
Making his first career standing start in the afternoon’s quarterfinal heat race, Grist’s challenge became even more daunting as the skies opened up, soaking the short, Indy track.
The start proved to be a struggle for the Team Canada entrant as he bogged down, losing five spots by the first turn. Fighting back, Grist eventually clawed his way into the top five, but was forced to postpone his charge for fourth as a full course caution was declared. A surprise green flag coming into the final lap caught everyone by surprise, and, benefiting from a spin by the driver that he had been previously pressuring, Grist assumed the position, taking a well-deserved fourth place finish.
The final day of the Festival was run under dry, but cold conditions, adding another element of challenges to the semi-finalists.
Having secured a second row starting spot due to Saturday’s result, Grist made a good getaway and completed the first lap amidst a five-car train. On new and cold tires, Grist patiently waited for the handling to ‘come in’, but his opportunity to charge never came as a pursuing car made an impossible passing maneuver heading into Druids and the resulting contact left the CDR car highsided on the curbing. Despite the best efforts of the race marshals, the Team Canada effort ended in exactly the same spot as it had one year earlier.
Reflected Grist, “Although it was a tough week with unexpected problems, in the end, we were quick. I would like to thank all the sponsors who made this trip possible. I appreciate their help and support.”
“Not the ending we wanted, but we can hold out heads high,” commented Team Canada co-founder Brian Graham. “We really did have a car and a driver who, no doubt, would have made the final and you never know what can happen, once there. Garrett put on a brave face after the race and if not for some serious bad fortune to start off our venture, I am very confident that we could have been even stronger. Cliff and his whole team did an outstanding job for us again this year.”
Concluded Graham, “We will now look forward to building the Team Canada Scholarship with our supporters. This scholarship, of course, only exists because of the help we get from our supporters, we thank each and every one of them as they all play a part in the programme. We have big plans to grow the programme and will be making some announcements shortly that we hope will boost our efforts.”
The Team Canada Scholarship is made possible with the support of a long list of supporters. The two primary sponsors are Grote Manufacturing and The Race Drivers Guild of Canada, both of whom were instrumental in the programme’s creation. Also supporting the TCS is Hallman Construction, LSI International, General Lewis MacKenzie (RET), Bollenbach Insurance, Eformulacarnews.com, Door Doctor, Harvan Engineering, Rod-End Mechanical, Bamford Produce, RMB Inc, The Leda Krikorian Foundation, Altwood Doors, Bruce Gregory/ Calabogie Motorsports Park, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Inside Track Motorsports News and Formula Tour 1600.
source: Brian Graham