2020: My Year In Review

Introduction

2020. Oh. My. Goodness. 2020. 2020 has been one HELL of an insane year for every single one of us and I'm no exception.


In light of what's been an absolutely insane, bonkers and in some cases unbelievable year - I've decided to write not just a cheesy Facebook Post - but instead a "Megablog" - going through the top moments of each month throughout the year. This megablog will not just be an "extended" list of the events of 2020, but too about how and why 2020's "episodes" have affected me.


I know it's more than a half-hour read (35 minutes divided into 12 months/"sections" - each month being a 3 minute read) but I assume my older audience read books which are no doubt...longer than half an hour - so take this as a book. Sit down, get comfy, grab a coffee and enjoy.


Lastly, I'd like to apologise about the amount I mention iRacing (and little about my real life) but with the world being in the state it's been - and me being locked in for months (like many of us), iRacing has turned half a year into a half a dozen bearable months.


With the rambling done and out of the way, let's start by rewinding the clocks back to January 1st, 2020 when this whole extravaganza began.

January

The first few days of the year actually started pretty well. I wished my iRacing Account a happy first birthday and 5 days later, congratulated my own bones for making it 19 years outside of the womb.

One could argue that there was more of a celebration for my iRacing account hitting 1 year, than myself (19) but I didn't mind.


I still remember my very first day on the service (Jan 14th, 2019) like it was yesterday....

My First Raceday!

To give an idea of how big 2020 was for Kabort - an staggering 39 out of Kabort's 50 or so currently active drivers (Excluding bots and our Korean friends) were hired during the year 2020. In the meantime (Jan), Kabort still had a slightly sour reputation within the community. Some slightly less than perfect races and hanging around the near the back of the field meant that despite being gold in colour... we were certainly not there by standard. This was only worsened by an absolutely abhorrent (2hr 40 min) practice race for the Daytona 24 Hours in which I showed some incredibly appalling and disgusting driving standards. The Official iRacing Daytona 24 Hours didn't go much better either, a driver signing up for the wrong car meant that I - nor our entry (team) could compete. From here, things took a turn for the worst...



Late January saw the passing of the pilot, Kobe Bryant and 7 other passengers onboard a helicopter bound for a a basketball game at Camarillo.


I personally didn't know Kobe, nor did I know his name very well (bar the shouting of "Kobeee" at school basketball games), but it was hugely upsetting no matter.


The middle east and America also threw some missiles at each other and the world thought that world war 3 was upon us. Fortunately it wasn't and everything was stabilized, but it really set the precedent for the year.


February


The year only continued in heart-ache and pain as ferocious fires continued to rip through Australia - decimating everything and everyone in its path, this lasting for over 6 anguishing months.

After the fires were controlled, it was confirmed that 36 people perished as a direct result of the fire (445 later due to smoke inhalation).


46 million acres of land were burned with an absolutely devastating 500+ million mammals, birds and reptiles unable survive the deadly fires.


This was beyond tragic especially because of my unbeknownst love for the country.


In response to the fires, asked Milner Media (an iRacing Painter) if he could produce me some liveries for the iRacing Bathurst 12 Hours.


The three cars Milner would be painting were the: Audi R8, Ferrari 488 GT3 and Mercedes AMG GT GT3. Myself, Will (Burfield), Jonathan Kerns and Korean Jongpil Jung at the helm of the Ferrari.


Still to this day, in December 2020 - I'm absolutely baffled at how the Bathurst 12 Hours was still a part of this year - it felt like more than a decade ago!

I've discussed how the others got on in the the Bathurst Blog, but for us, despite drafting in Jongpil Jung at the very last minute, the 11 Hours and 15 minutes of Bathurst went sublimely - and we were even potentially on for a top 5 finish...


But it was the 12 hours of Bathurst, and I was in for the last stint.


After having had contact with someone at "The Cutting" I wanted to apologise to them (via iRacing's in-game text chat) along the Conrod straight. So I did.


In doing so, the car drifted onto the grass. Opon trying to return to the track, the car slid from underneath me - two overcorrections later and I was sliding. Hitting the wall was an inevitability. We'd finish the race in the pits.

This was beyond painful for me - I actually cried at one point - all this hard work (over 10 hours worth!) and it turned out to be for absolutely fuck-all-nothing. This was nobody's fault but my own, and I had to accept it. This certainly was a hard pill to swallow.


Granted, we finished 7th, but there's something about boasting about a top 5 at the "12 Hours Of Bathurst" that cannot be beaten. Especially when done whilst hot-seating with an incredibly close friend. It may have been a 12 hour race, but it all came down to the final hour and my actions truly marred what had been a simply phenomenal performance by all.


February ended with Luxembourg making all public transport completely free, a nice little positive to end the month on.

March In terms of my school/college work/educations - things weren't going so well. After smashing the first year of my Level 3 Media and ICT BTEC's (separate) the previous year, this year was a totally different story.


Partially to do with the fact that the the TA (Teaching Assistant) was no longer able to aid/support me due to the course regulations, I massively struggled during the academic (college) year of September 2019 - 2020.

I fought hard to "stay afloat" and keep up with my college work (Media, ICT and my hopeless attempts at GCSE Maths) and all bar one topic, I was only just managing to keep my head above the metaphorical water.


This one topic- this "anchor" if you will, was coding. With little to no help available, I was being drowned by the coding task - so much so that the teachers were beginning to get incredibly concerned at the amount of work I was doing during those lessons. I don't care if it was just to display text or whatever - it just went straight over my head and was just boggling to me. A teacher with a thick Frecnh accent probably didn't help matters either.


The (at the time) epidemic quite literally saved my arse. It was like being stuck out in the Atlantic ocean in a rubber inflatable dinghy and a giant cargo ship or coastguard comes and plucks me out of a pretty sh*** situation. In Mid-March (specifically, the 16th), the government announced a lockdown and forced schools, colleges (and I think uni's too) to close.


People would complain that it (the lockdown) started much too late - and other than an excuse to stop coding (course) I didn't - and still don't have an opinion on the matter.


In the beginning, everyone thought that this would last at most a month or two (some even saying a week or two) before everything would return to normal, and we'd return to normality...how wrong we were...


For me, I hate to say it, but the lockdown came at a very good time.


On our last day at college - I told Emma, one of the SEN workers at my college, I'd use the week off (assuming it would be a week) to attempt to catch up - or at least make some sort of progress the coding "assignment" and make proper use of what was essentially was a "get out of jail free" card.


This was so that on the (then) high-ish chance that I'd return, I would be in a better position then when I left and maybe I'd be bumped up a grade at most or be able to begin to swim instead of just treading water.


Turns out...we didn't. We didn't return from the mid-march break, so my anxiety levels skyrocketed. The GCSE's were off in the summer months and there was no sign of the lockdown easing - and with currently no Maths GCSE - I was an anxious wreck - worrying about what would happen with my GCSE's - if I'd have to sit them later in the year, re-take them, or hope that my predicted grades would be enough to tell a positive story. To add to my concern, in late March, my father was diagnosed with Myeloma.


Myeloma is a form of non-terminal Cancer, after his physical condition started to deteriorate - I think, as a family, this was some of the hardest times - I remember during spring that I'd go out to the front wall of my house in a flurry of tears to sit and just cry - our last meal together was one not of peace, but of tension and tears - and one I hate to look back on.


Initially, there were thoughts that it could of been a fracture or other moderately-severe diagnosis, but unfortunately we were all proven very, very wrong.

From then on we didn't really seen each other too often. Yes I drove them to hospital, but with me being 23/7 (one hour sleep) on the computer/iRacing, there would be very rare occasions where we'd actually see each other. Probably my way of dealing with shock or what happened, but it reduced conflict (somehow) and though Anti-Social and selfish, the solidarity helped me live a semi-normal life inside.

~

Dare I say it, Joe Bradley was one of the ones who kept me out of misery

Some may just view this as just another Facebook Post - but I believe it was the start of something massive....

As stated in the "Starting Something New" blog, I suggested that because I thoroughly enjoyed them (the Watkins Glen, Phillip Island and Charlotte Practice Races) I wanted it to be turned into a league or something a little more more long-term and that's exactly what happened....


This was the birth of the "MOFO Covid Cup" (It being named during an earlier and less severe time during the pandemic)

During the opening "official" race at Summit Point there were only 8 Racers, (1 DSQ), myself in the 2011 McLaren livery finishing 4th of them...

This series/championship/league was an absolute blast and really helped distract me from the harsh realities of life.


What was so good about it?

I think that everything combined gathered together to create a very "warm" series.


Prior to the practice race at Watkins Glen, I had never driven a Skip Barber car before (me not yet discovering the joys of open wheel at this time.) Since driving it, I found out that it was one hell of a blast (despite not having the greatest top speed) especially when chucking it and sliding it through corners - aggression being the key to fast lap times. The competition wasn't bad either - aside from the "random" (normal/one-off) members joining just for the hell of it, MOFOalso had some long-term members including some pretty big names in the commentary scene such as the likes of Ben Constanduros, Joe Bradley and Nick Daman.


I think what also helped this series (and the fun factor) was the fact that there were "fixed" setups, meaning that everyone was running around in the same car narrowing the results down to pure driver skill instead of technical or mechanical advantage.


I may not have been up front fighting for Top 5's, podiums or wins - but there was a huge variety of talent - and nearer the back I had my own fun battling the guys at my own pace which was also really cool - the fact I didn't have to be "alien" fast to have a great race.

Finally the reason that the MOFO *ahem* Cup kicked off - the real world was - and still is - a dark, miserable place with lots of bad news circulating and we all needed something to cheer us up - and oh boy did it!


During this series, I'd make some life-long memories, including a monster pile-up at the start of the Silverstone round (Round 2), and an awesome battle with Joe Bradley at Spa Francorchamps, where he taught me a thing or two about racecraft. (don't go for every gap, sit behind and build up momentum over a lap to get the slip-stream on the back-straight) Silverstone

Spa Francorchamps


The championship/series/league would finish in May, and I'd finish in the top 10 in the drivers championship - which was an absolutely incredible achievement for me, one of the youngest/least experienced on the grid - and I'm actually quite proud of myself for!


Any Problems?

Honestly? Yes. A couple. I view myself as a young Max Verstappen - ambitious. Overly ambitious. Some of my moves were certainly questionable and I may've needed to be "reined in", and slightly calmed down.


My biggest problem was going for moves that weren't on, but over time I eventually learnt.


Just like in the real world with Max Verstappen - I too was "reigned in" and got a control of myself (eventually) and so has Max.

Off-Track


In terms for off-track, there was also a small issue - Blogs.

I loved doing them - and still do - but with a race on Tuesday and Thursday, I liked to do in-depth race-reports, and with a time-limit (of the next race) to pump the blog out, I got a little bit behind.


With the real-life issues I was already dealing with, this was an unnecessary load of stress and probably un-needed too.


In terms of official racing, it was the Sebring 12hrs and myself, Will and Lance Cropper (who made a brief appearance at Kabort before dissapearing into the mysterious dark depth (left))


It was an absolutely stellar performance from all and I certainly had a blast, even if I had a wobble or two.

Top Left: On the edge of adhesion

Top Middle: Finding An Escape Road

Top Right: Creating Track Art...Robin Style

Middle Left: The Sunset was blinding, but stunning

MIddle Middle: Crossing the line after 12hrs Middle Right: Crossing the line in darkness was a relief Bottom Left: Well earnt donuts. It was a well-deserved result

April


The entire month of April would pass by during the Covid Cup Skippy Series (every Tuesday & Thursday Night for 12 weeks), however April was also a massive month for me - both in iRacing and in the Real World.


For starters, despite the lockdown, I still got my Maths 1-1 sessions (try and put these behind me, don't really like discussing the m-word)


I'd like to dedicate this month - and this area to give a massive shoutout/mention to Emma Wicks, who was not only part of the Learning Support team at my college, by a personal tutor too.


Throughout April, her and I were in email contact, and she sent fairly frequent emails to ask me how I was getting along and allowed me to discuss (in any detail) about how I was doing both mentally, physically and with my work.


She really helped me talk/discuss my issues with regards to my father and what would happen in the summer. At the end of one Email she'd quote the legendary Niki Lauda which, looking back, I should have probably taken onboard or looked deeper into - but I'm glad that in November, I properly read it and could refer back to my life at that period.


"From success, you learn absolutely nothing, From failure and setbacks conclusions can be drawn.  That goes for your private life as well as your career." 

Just as my troubles were boiling comfortably in a pan of anxiety and stress, 2020 decided to take another absolute hero away from us. Stirling Moss on the 12th April at the grand old age of 91.


I know this is going to become all too common - especially as my heros and the people I know, love and look up to are going to grow older and eventually pass too, but this never prepares you for the breaking news and announcement and you never expect it to be one's "last day".


No doubt we'll lose amazing people in 2021 too - it's inevitable and unstoppable, we've just got to spend as much time as possible with those we love and cherish the most...although in the climate that's very difficult. Tell your loved ones you love them.


It's been a very tough 5 years for motorsport fans across the globe - motorsport has lost many true heroes - most notably Justin Wilson (1978 - 2015) (37) John Surtees (1934- 2017) (83) Charlie Whiting (1952-2019) (67) Antonie Hubert (1996-2019) (23)

Nicki Lauda (1949-2019) (70)

Stirling Moss (1929-2020) (91)


A livery was made in his memory. Rest In Peace Stirling, you'll never be forgotten <3

In more positive news, Kabort got their first two podiums!!


I've done blogs on each of these individual podiums (ELMS at Monza) and (Nurburgring vVLN) - me being a part of the latter squad!


Before going onto the events of May, I'd just like to say for about a week, I was a part of a group who were making the world on Minecraft - making a little start on my road...however judging by the sheer quality of the builds that have already been built I felt a little bit "worthless" and like I didn't quite fit in - so quicker than I joined I left again...but yes, I was a part of the team for a second.


Kabort continued to shine, as Lars Bachmann, Robert Land and Justinas Ribelis somehow managed to bag only Kabort's third podium in history in an LMP1 at the 6 hour ELMS (Endurance Le Mans Series) race at Road America - as a (then) team principal and team owner - this made me chuffed and incredibly proud


April's special event was the Nurburgring 24 Hours, and after a little bit of unnecessary livery drama on my behalf, we were ready to hit the track. Nurburgring Blog



May


May saw the second season of the MOFO Skippy league/championship start - and for me it went worse than expected with incidents/crashes in the first four races of the season (Watkins, Concord, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta) before managing a points finish at Nurburgring (second of the season after Road Atlanta).


My MOFO Shenanigans can be read here:


Part 1

Part 2

Season 2 saw me run under my "own skin" sporting the Kabort livery instead of 2011 McLaren

Even during May, whilst I was filling out my student finance (4 months from the start of the next academic year) I had doubts of weather I'd actually be going to university - or weather I'd re-take the college year - each presented its own benefits - re-taking the year meant I could start from a clean slate and try again and try harder at my courses, whilst going to University would be a dream come true.


May slipped by pretty quickly despite the MOFO Troubles.


May also saw me learn to cook a new meal - sausages and pasta - and although simple - it was like tying shoelaces - year(s) to learn, seconds to master and remember.


I hate open flame, Food Tech at my secondary school was an absolute nightmare and I dreaded the hob - especially open flame and "could have liked the teacher more" Later in the year I'd find out that the uni would have an electric hob niccee


Before I knew it, it was the end of May - the 30th of May marking one year of Kabort's existence. It may have been a low-key celebration but to me it was a lot - having something I owned and created last a whole year - 12 months, 365 days is just - I haven't even had a relationship that long...the only things I own lasting that long are models and soft toys (deal with it).


The very next day something absolutely baffling happened...Evie (Reddick) messaged me saying that she found me someone that I may potentially have interest in (as I've been looking for a long-term girlfriend from before humans learnt to walk) - this wonderful woman turned out to be Annie Mae Segal...

and as cheesy and cliche it may sound - it truly was love at first sight.


She wanted the same out of life as I did (live independently, marriage, kids etc. - a detailed plan for the future) and wasn't half bad looking either! On 31st May 2020, we began dating.


It may not have been the smoothest of relationships - none are, but the fact we are pushing through, and despite one anothers flaws, we are still dating to this day.


A YouTuber I occasionally (rarely) watch said something about relationships in a recent (November) video - and I really, really agreed with it (of course, this was in a video format, so I got rid of much of the filler)


"Marriage is not always all good shit, there's a lot of days in relationships where you argue and you have bad days or you guys don't talk much, if at all, it's kind of what happens. There's kind of ebbs and flows in relationships and that's what keeps them interesting a lot of the time because if you agree on everything and everything's always perfect, at the end of the day, that's not really a healthy relationship"

A few disclaimers - Optimus is a YouTuber, not a scientist or relationship expert, so don't take this as factually correct or gospel.


This quote was taken from the middle of a video talking about Cardi B tweeting about her ("abusive?") relationship with rapper "Offset."


You can watch the whole thing here if you are that bothered by it - but yes, I believe that not every single relationship is perfect, but as long as you trust and love one another, stick by one another and don't verbally or physically hurt or abuse one another - a relationship with good and bad days is still a very good one - and at the end of the day - it should be between the dating couple weather they stick together or not. Friends and families can offer advice, yes - but at the end of the day it's up to the couple to split or stay,



June

June was the month of experimenting on iRacing.


The start of June marked the second Week 13 of the year (the first being during March between Season 1 & 2, had me having a blast in the Porsche 911 Cup).


The Second Week 13, which marked the end of Season 2, saw me trying out new content in the form of the Brand New BMW M4, although I only did 3 of the 7 days.


After a hugely enjoyable experience in the MOFO Skippy Series, I tried my luck at iRacing's official Skip Barber Series and immediately put it on the second row of the Grid for the second week of the season (missed week 1 because I hadn't thought about the official series back then)

Never before have I ever had such a clear view of Turn One...and it's unluckily to happen again...

If it wasn't for my stupidity of not fuelling up the car come the race, I think I would have been battling for the win - however, I did not, needed to pit and finished 8th after a legendary battle with Giuseppe Calderaro.

My stupidity would pay off at the next round at Mosport, as I remembered to fill up the car after qualifying...and in an absolute shock result I'D COME ACROSS THE LINE IN 3RD POSITION!!!!!