The Year of May

Blog, Pippa Mann

The month of May is without doubt my biggest, busiest month of the year. That will come as no surprise to most of you who follow me, but what might come as a surprise to you is how early May actually starts each year, and when it actually finishes.

In January I returned from some time off with my family in South Africa and hit the ground running. I spent time at the ROAR (and drove a Conti car for the first time), I met the guys at Prestige Performance, Lamborghini Paramus and Wayne Taylor Racing for the first time, I traveled to Bryan Clauson’s event at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, I competed in my first kart race in 12 years as part of TopKart USA Team Empower, I attended the Komen Perfect Pink Party, did my re-certification training with Porsche, and every other spare day I had was already focused towards trying to pull together my program for 2017—including connecting with the Auction Cause team who would run our online campaign this year, and starting to connect with all of the other drivers who agreed to take part.

In February our first partner announcements started rolling, and I was doing more karting, in more meetings, working anytime work became available, and spending as much time as I could inside the walls of PitFit Training. I was juggling fundraising planning, partner meetings, paid gigs as a coach, and before I knew it, the days in February were done. How could it possibly already be March?

With the first two months of the year already having escaped me, my plan was to write this blog when my program (for my return to Dale Coyne Racing for my sixth Indianapolis 500) was announced at the end of March. However as it turns out, the announcement came out right as I was driving back down to work another stint in Alabama, and I ended up parked in a coffee shop, uploading the story to my website with their wifi, before being back in my Honda Civic road car to continue the eight-hour drive. With early starts, and late nights spent chasing inbox zero, and more partner announcements, and social media content to create and schedule (so that it could be posted during my working hours where I don’t have my phone out), before I knew it I was already in April.

How on earth was it April? There were still partners to sign, my first test in the Prestige Performance Lamborghini Paramus Super Trofeo car to get organized, an online fundraising campaign to truly get organized, my first round of partner commitments (already ahead of May) to fulfill, and as much work as I could possibly fill between everything else so that my little business of one had enough of a float to get me through the month. You see, given May is dominated for me by race cars, I don’t have enough time left to do the rest of the work I do year round to stay afloat and pay my bills. Sponsorship for May comes in, and leaves my account again straight away. There is never anything left over, and the only way to keep myself out of the red is to work my tail off leading into the month so I have a cushion during.

Despite all this, I planned to write this blog in April. The announcement of my ride in Super Trofeo was announced while I was actually at the one test I was able to shoehorn into my schedule. But I was traveling straight from that test to more work in Birmingham, and it was only just over a week out from my debut US sports car race anyway. “I’ll write it after the race” I told myself.

Did I mention that our first race was actually in May? Yup, by this point May 1 had hit, and the campaign had launched with our first wave of items. I was also packing my suitcase with a new helmet that had no Honda logos, and a new driver’s suit, and driver polos with Lamborghini logos to head to Circuit of the Americas for the first time to compete in my first road course race in five years. I did actually write about that experience, and you can find my blog about the race weekend here, but I didn’t just want to regurgitate the same exact story here on my website. Then I was back in town, working with my confirmed partners while trying to confirm prospective partners, and still chasing potential partners while also working with the team on the final design for the car. I’m not quite sure when I thought I would find the time, but ahead of time I thought I could make it happen. Once I was back, and snowed under with everything I was trying to get done in just a few days before getting in the racecar, I quickly realized my planning might have been a touch optimistic. I promised myself I would get this done right after Race Day. We’re just over one week out now from the race itself, and I’m finally in a position where I have time to write, and quite frankly where I want to write.

This was obviously not the May I wanted, not the May I hoped for, and nor was it the race day we wanted or felt we deserved on the 63. But sometimes you have those months, and you have those races—it’s part of being a racing driver, and when you’re a part time driver your chances of sometimes having a May like that are higher than those who get to run full time. So many of you have reached out to compliment me on how we did, and while I am so grateful for your support, it just makes me gutted all over again that we left so much of our potential on the table this May. Given I don’t have the opportunity to get in an IndyCar again the next weekend and put that right, after a month, and a race, like the one we had, it just takes me a few days sometimes to pull myself up by the bootstraps, focus on the positives and move on.

Here’s the thing. While I’m grumpy about our race, and the way things played out overall, there are some pretty big positives to take. We are all disappointed with my best ever finish on paper at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Indy 500. I think that speaks volumes. It tells you how much better we know we could have been if we had just gotten it right on race day. It also tells you how much better we know we can be—and we plan to be—when we come back. Some things in racing are within your control, and some are outside, and we got hit by a double whammy of both this year on race day, but we still sucked it up and came home P17. That tells you something about my prediction that we could have been, should have been, up there in the top 15 had we gotten it right, and not have those circumstances unfold.

I also became the first-ever female driver to record a lap over 230mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this May. I still show in the history books as second fastest because we didn’t set it during qualifying, and right now I would still trade that lap for the type of qualifying run we wanted to have, expected to have, and hoped to have this May. But I’m sure I’ll look back on that stat one day and take in the fact it’s a number no one can ever take away from me. Some day another female athlete will run that track faster, but being the first to 230 will always stick.

My life from now goes back to a number of different endeavors. Back to rejoin the female karting team. Back again to focusing on the Super Trofeo racing campaign. Back to working as many gigs in the racing industry and at performance driving schools that I can fit into my schedule. Back to doing speaking engagements. All so I can get my head firmly above water again.

My attention also goes back to my partners. I now have commitments to fulfill throughout the calendar year to everyone who helped put me in the car and I have meetings, introductions, and planning to get this ball rolling for May 2018 while May 2017 is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

While the calendar has flicked over to June, and May 2017 is starting to begin to wind down, May 2018 has already begun.

» Blog, Pippa Mann » The Year of May

June 6, 2017