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Racer Laura Poorter Competes for K&N in the Ford Focus Midget Series
A new track, a new team and not enough fuel were all part of a challenging weekend for 17-year-old Laura Poorter at Altamont Motorsports Park in Tracy, California. The Holland native competes for K&N Engineering in the Ford Focus Midget Series.
Holland native Laura Poorter at Altamont Motorsports Park
“We have a great team of individuals,” said K&N Sports Marketing Director Charles Maier. “But, we were not working together at the beginning.”
Laura speaks several languages and one of the problems was terminology, said Charles. “For example, Laura would say the car does not have enough grip in the front. But, an American would say that’s a push, the car’s got push,” he said. “We are working on using the right language to be able to understand and communicate more effectively.”
By the end of the first day on Friday Laura started to get into some respectable times, but on Saturday the team had a setback. “We missed the first practice because the track schedule was not posted,” said Charles. “Laura was a little frustrated, but we went into the second practice with all the refinements and changes that were made on the first day.”
17-year-old Laura Poorter competes for K&N Engineering
“Laura raced Karts in Europe where the competition can be very tough. Drivers almost always try to take each other out and put their karts in the corner first. “They’ll do almost anything, risking their body or someone else’s body to get there,” said Charles. “I told Laura that it’s not that way in America, that drivers are much more forgiving. That for the most part is true to road racing, but not in circle track and definitely not in USAC.”
After Saturday’s practice Laura told Charles, “What have you done, you said these people are nice and I should back off and give space, but these racers are driving as if they are in the Belgium kart championship.” Charles responded, “You are right, I watched you out there and they were driving all over you, sideways, over the top, around you.”
Laura was really frustrated and Charles looked at her, smiled and said, “Can you handle it?” Laura said, “Yeah, I can handle it but you didn’t tell me this is how it’s going to be!”
Laura realized she had to be tougher. It was okay because no one was driving dirty, just aggressively, said Charles. “She qualified six out of 18,” Charles said. “I was really pleased because it was the first time at Altamont, and her second time in the K&N car.”
USAC has a very interesting way of taking the qualifying positions and inverting the first five cars to the back and then splitting the field. Laura started the first heat race at 6, stayed out of trouble and ended up beginning the main event 14 out of 18.
In the first 10 laps Laura drove from 14th to 7th place. “This was great because the first 7 cars out of 18 just pulled away from the field and the remaining 11 were just falling behind,” said Charles. “It was clear she was on pace with the leaders.”
The race was great, they were dicing it up. Laura was bumping a guy in 6th position and trying to take his spot for two or three laps, but the driver in 5th position ended up sideways. The racer in 6th position took the inside to avoid crashing into the 5th place car and Laura caught the tires of the 5th place car and went up in the air.
“She was flying and went to the outside of turn two and ended up off the track,” said Charles. “Luckily there was no wall and she drove from the dirt back onto the track into last position. She was not hurt and there was no damage to the car.”
Laura drove her way back up three more positions, there was another accident and more yellow flag laps. She ran out of gas on lap 20 out of 25. “They don’t count yellow flag laps in Ford Focus Midget and we set up the car with the least amount of fuel possible,” he said. “As a team we need to learn how to better gauge our fuel consumption. It was a serious disappointment.” Laura finished at 17.
The team was bummed after making so much progress. “Keep in mind that her car was in 7th position, and the guy she was bumping ended up finishing 2nd,” said Charles. “If she stayed with him, Laura could have come in 3rd place.”
K&N knows about cars and knows about racing. “Laura is in K&N’s driver development program, the key word is development,” said Charles. “We did not hire a gun that has been driving a hundred races a year in USAC to come and teach us how to drive a midget and how to set up a car. Laura is a great driver when you put her in a car and say drive it to the best of that car's ability.”
Madera Speedway is next for Laura. It will be a good learning track, said Charles. “Laura is getting a good indication of pace and the aggression level she needs to be at. Ultimately it will be better.”
Follow Laura's progress throughout the racing season at the
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K&N Engineering, Inc., with headquarters in Riverside, California, has been the world''s leader in performance filter technology since 1969, serving the needs of the automotive, motorcycle, marine, industrial and military markets. K&N is heavily involved in nearly every form of motorsports from off-road and powersports to drag racing, stock cars and road racing. For more information about K&N Filters, please contact K&N Engineering, Inc., P.O. Box 1329, Riverside, CA 92502-1329, (800) 213-4182 for a dealer near you, (800) 858-3333 for technical service/questions, (951) 826-4001 Fax, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.knfilters.com.
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