My 2018 Season: Teamwork, Learning, and New Opportunities!

The 2018 racing season isn’t quite over for me yet, but it’s already been a year of growth—both on and off the track—and new accomplishments.

In the Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Series, I could not have asked for a better team than Sick Sideways. They are the best team in MX-5 Cup, and even won Team of the Year! Sick Sideways had a driver on the podium every single race weekend, adding up to the most podium finishes of any team this season. I had set goals to be one of those podium finishers, and even though things got in the way of that happening, I still learned so much and made a lot of progress as a driver.

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I’m so grateful for everything Sick Sideways did for me this season, and for always providing a positive working environment. At Portland International Raceway, the entire front of my car was destroyed in Race 1 when someone got a little ambitious at the start and caused a turn-one pile-up. It sucked watching the rest of the race from the sidelines, but Justin Hunt, my car chief Tim, and other team members worked 10 hours straight to fix my car and have it ready for Race 2. The car was incredible, and I’m so grateful for their diligence. They really went above and beyond to get me back on track, and it resulted in a car that ran in the top ten!

Sometimes drivers don’t talk about it, but it can be so mentally draining when you have so much you want to accomplish. You just have to buckle down and get things done without the drama! 

I’m not the type to make excuses and I know I still have a lot of work to do. I have a list of goals that I want to accomplish in the near future. I made progress toward those goals this season, like at Monticello Motor Club, where our qualifying there was cut short due to a red flag. I only got two flyers in so I ended up qualifying 20th, which is not ideal, but we drove all the way up to 9thin the race. My lap time was on par with the top three cars in that race, and that shows positive progress.

As for the 2019 MX-5 Cup season, the series is dividing into two classes: ND.1 for the current spec cars and ND.2 for the 2019 spec. I’ve got some decisions to make about where I want to compete, so stay tuned for announcements about that.

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Many of you followed the weekly episodes of the Hoonigans competition on YouTube, where I came in runner-up. They told us nothing beforehand about what we’d be doing, so it was all a surprise. It’s just what you saw on the web series: for each driving skill, you got two practice laps, a short period to ask questions, and then you were expected to perform. And you had to do it with cameras in your face! 

Some of the driving styles were completely new to me, like stunt driving and drifting, but I thought to myself, “I could go home or I could do my best.” I got to work with well-known stunt driver Rhys Millen, whose coaching really helped. The coaches got to pick their drivers for each event, and Rhys picked me every single time, so that meant a lot.  All of the drivers worked really hard, and I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of it. I learned a lot and am proud of where I finished.

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Next up is the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. We’ve just announced that I’ll be part of an all-female lineup in a Flying Lizard Audi R8! My co-drivers will be Christina Nielsen, Aurora Straus, Laura Ely and Erin Vogel. This will be a fantastic chance to continue improving my skills as a driver, teammate and ambassador!

And speaking of being an ambassador, I’ve got a new partnership with Thorne, which produces health and wellness supplements that help athletes like me. You’ll be seeing more about my partnership with them going into 2019, but in the meantime, you can try their products at a discount by using my code, Ashton10.