Rayhall (center left) and Falb (center right) won ELMS opener. Photo courtesy United Autosports

Rayhall: Reliving a dream start at Silverstone with United Autosports

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Editor’s note: Sean Rayhall, one of America’s rising driving talents, will file a series of blogs throughout the year chronicling his season in the European Le Mans Series, with Zak Brown’s United Autosports team in its Ligier JS P3 Nissan. His first looks at a dream start to his campaign, where he and co-driver John Falb won Saturday’s 4 Hours of Silverstone. 

Hello everyone! Here is a small recap of our week in Silverstone!

From my base in Atlanta, we had a nice flight over to London Heathrow, and thankfully Delta hooked me up with an upgrade to business class, which doesn’t happen often. I met up with my teammate John Falb at the airport and we headed to Oxford for a quick bite before getting situated at the track for our test Monday. John told me if I wasn’t P1 this week that he was sending me to the chopping block!

Luckily, this was the only chopping block Rayhall dealt with in England. Photo courtesy United Autosports

We had a very productive test Monday with United Autosports, which was important going into the race weekend. The car seemed good on the long runs which was our main concern going in, and we turned a quick lap or two that made us happy with our setup.

It’s rare you get time off during a race week so we went to London for a day to check out some things there. To be honest, it’s pretty cool seeing things that we hear about in America but don’t always get the opportunity to view in person – case in point, Big Ben and the London eye were pretty special to see!

Big Ben. Photo courtesy United Autosports
Sightseeing in London. Photo courtesy United Autosports

Our team owner Zak Brown arranged a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre just for us Wednesday morning which was
amazing. When you get to see cars Senna and Hunt drove and learn personal stories about Bruce McLaren at this facility, it’s surreal because these are things you just don’t get to do every day. It was an eye-opening experience for sure!

Falb and Rayhall head to McLaren. Photo courtesy United Autosports

Once back at the track, we had practice and qualifying over the next few days and this went really well for us. The car was handling even better than our test on Monday thanks to some final touches by the United crew, which put us near the front every session. We qualified second, and the thought of two Americans sitting on the front row for this European Le Mans Series race at Silverstone was surreal to John and I because there aren’t many of us competing in Europe at the moment.

Race day came on Saturday and I couldn’t have been happier, because a week of anticipation staying in England was starting to get to me. We had a strategy to just basically push 100 percent like a sprint race the entire four hours, but to conserve tires that we had to do two hours on each set. So, you have to put a lot of thought into that; going flat out is tempting but you also have to have the tires underneath you to run the same pace for a full two hours.

At the start of the race, I made the pass for the lead going into Turn 3 and shut the door on the polesitter and never looked back. We actually had a small fuel consumption issue that changed our strategy, so I was on fuel save mode the entire two stints while trying to leave the field. We ended up with an 1:30 gap to P2 when I got out.

John had two great stints! He was very quick and maintained a good gap to the field. That being said, when you’re watching from the pits, it was the longest two hours of my life!

We were able to grab the win and I hugged my engineer G-Baby (Gary Robertshaw). I just call him that because he hates it, until he made me get off of him on the pit lane. Also, our teammate Filipe Albuquerque was able to make a pass for the win in LMP2 in the last 3 minutes of the race! So it was a double win for United Autosports, and all three of our cars ended up on the podium! (The No. 3 car got promoted to third in class at the end of the race -Ed.)

Words can’t describe the feeling of that day, the amount of support from our team, my girlfriend Danielle, family and friends, as well as, the best fans I could ask for was remarkable and I am beyond thankful for each and everyone of you!

Thanks for reading! Will have one of these articles for each Euro trip this year! Back to work for Monza 🙂

That winning feeling… Photo courtesy United Autosports

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/