The Dodge dually rumbled into Toronto Motorsports Park with it’s cargo in the trailer behind it. A pair of Formula 1200 cars and enough spare parts to fix anything that could go wrong.
There was really nothing to be nervous about. Daniel has been to TMP many times, and he’s driven faster cars than this. But this is the first day with a new team and a new series. Vallis Motor Sport has been competing in Formula 1200 for decades. For Demaras, it’s day one.
The power-to-weight ratio of a F1200 car is not that much different than a kart. But now the driver has to factor in transmission, suspension, and 1,000+ lbs. of car to throw around. Vallis reminded Demaras not to try to set a new lap record. Just relax, have fun, and get used to the new equipment.
The BRD FV1200 has a championship pedigree. The upright seating position and narrow cockpit allow for better driver visibility and steering comfort without compromising the aerodynamics of the car. Demaras had experience with the 4-speed gearbox from his drive in the F2000 car at TMP last year, so there was no learning curve.
After the first session, Demaras felt the race car uses impacts different muscle groups than he was used to. No more pounding of the ribs like in a kart. This time there was strain in the arms and neck.
Mostly it was a pain in the butt.
The seat is non-existent. The driver sits on an aluminum plate that also counts as the floor of the car. The seat back doubles as the firewall between the driver and the engine, transmission and fuel cell behind. Daniel had felt his legs going numb while driving, so adjustments were made.
Bill Vallis is a soft-spoken guy with years of experience. He doesn’t make anyone around him feel stuid for asking stupid questions, and he generally has a likeable quality to him. This is probably the secret behind his 40+ years in racing. Just be a genuinely nice guy and enjoy what you do.
During the driver coaching sessions, Vallis encouraged Demaras to use heel-toe techniques while downshifting, and explained that unlike many race cars with straight-cut gears, the F1200 has helical gears with synchros, making gear shifts very easy. Feeling comfortable now, Daniel returned to the track to try out the techniques.
There were no stopwatches, track maps or MyChron data on this day. Just a chance to test out the new racing machine Daniel will compete in during the 2022 racing season.