- 10 November 2016
Salem, NH - Steve Bamford found his way to the F1600 Formula F Championship Series in 2011, made his F2000 Championship debut at the end of 2012, and worked on improving each weekend - culminating in a dominating 2016 season that saw him win the F2000 Championship in the No. 7 Rice Race Prep Citation.
It was four years ago in October that Bamford, from Toronto, Ontario, made his debut in a Van Diemen in a cold weekend at Watkins Glen - finishing 30th and 20th in his debut.
"I found my way to F2000 via the F1600 Series," said Bamford. "I ran for a partial season in F1600 and loved the big fields in F2000 and the winged cars. I found Remy Audette's (2011 Champion) car avialable for sale and decided if I was going to run F2000 that was the car to have."
Coming into that Watkins Glen weekend, Bamford only had a single test session in the car at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
"It was a cold, wet weekend and I was simply trying to stay out of everyone’s way and not be a moving chicane," Bamford recalled. "In the first race I went off and had to sit and watch the other cars go by from the outer loop. In the second race I completed the race distance."
With Rice Race Prep, Bamford came back for 2013 and 2014 in that Van Diemen, and kept marching forward. He got faster and became a consistent threat in the Masters Class, and then moved into the top ten, and then became a regular in the conversation for the top five weekend in and weekend out.
"My goal was to keep improving each weekend," Bamford said. "We added people to the team to help improve the car along with helping to improve the driver. I was always striving to get better as the team was too."
Then came a big change for 2015, as Bamford switched cars and moved to the No. 7 Citation, which had previously finished second in the Championship..
After a strong debut at Road Atlanta, Bamford stormed to his first victory a month later, May 2015, at Watkins Glen.
"Winning there for the first time, I will never forget," Bamford said. "You never forget your first win in any series and it was a good battle.”
The 2015 season would continue with Bamford scoring more strong finishes and collecting podium hardware at seemingly every race.
This year opened with a strong showing with two wins at Road Atlanta, setting Bamford up for a season of dominating.
"Road Atlanta this year was a very good weekend as we had some tough times in both qualifying sessions yet were able to run hard in the race. We won both races coming from further back in the field," Bamford continued. "I think working with the team over the last two years made the difference in my driving style and I adapted some of that to the car. It was simply building on last year and coming into this year understanding the car much better along with confidence that I could win. Last year the car was new to me, it took me a while to learn how to drive it close to the limit."
Bamford credited his 2016 success to driving more consistently, and noted his improving lap-by-lap strategy.
"Continually looking for improvement lap after lap also made a difference as did being patient," he noted. "Sometimes I would push too hard and over drive the car last year. This year I was more patient which helped."
With a full team effort from Rice Race Prep, Bamford pointed to Watkins Glen, where a blown motor in morning practice saw the team install a new engine in time for important afternoon track time.
"For me I was able to believe in the team and that helped me realize if I did my job in the car they could overcome the mechanical challenges," Bamford added. "I wouldn’t be racing without Greg Rice who has helped me put everything together. Obviously everyone who has worked with Rice Race Prep over the years has been a huge help. You don’t win a championship by yourself."