Charlie Martin entered last weekend’s opening round of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America at a legendary track she’s only seen in simulation, in a country she’s never raced in, and having to learn a new car. The next new world to conquer for a pioneering trans pilot who climbed many mountains already.
She ended the season opener at Laguna Seca in California last Sunday smiling with teammate Jason Gagne-Keats with a flying third-place in class, after having to make a comeback from a previous day’s disappointment.
“We’ve worked very hard through the off-season to prepare for this so it’s great to have that work rewarded,” Martin said. “Of course, we know we could’ve had more to celebrate if fate hadn’t played its part on Saturday but that’s motor racing.”
The fates of racing hit hard in Saturday’s opening race of the series. The Martin/Gagne-Keats team qualified third fastest on the Lamborghini Cup division grid, the division of the series specifically for drivers who have the least amount of experience with the tracks in the series.
In the second corner of the first lap, Martin was rear-ended and spun. She recovered to push back into contention, carding the fastest lap in the class to place the car back into contention. By the end of the stint, she had made up the time and position lost and handed to the car to Gagne-Keats in third place.
The damage to the antilock brakes on the Lamborghini Huracán Evo2 from that first-lap derailed the effort. Gagne-Keats was forced to take a bitter DNF as the brake system was faltering.
Race 2 on Sunday was a reversal of fortunes that started with reversing the order within the team. Gagne-Keats drove the opening stint for the first time in his career and and kept the team close during what Martin said, via Twitter, was a “tidy opening stint”.
Martin took over with 20 minutes left the 50-minute sprint event, and continued her strong pace from Saturday. She put up the fastest lap in the class for the race, and set a class record for the track in a relentless effort to track down then-third place Rodrigo Vales.
With 10:30 left in the race, she went past Vales to move into third in class and the racing fates smiled on Martin as she flashed past the checkered flag to finish 3rd in class and 25th overall for the event.
For the second straight year, Charlie Martin would open a season standing on the podium. At this time last year, she was holding up winning hardware in the Britcar Endurance Championship. On her Instagram, Martin beamed about her successful debut on American soil.
“Laguna Seca was the first US track I learnt on PlayStation when I was a kid,” she recalled. “Standing on the podium on Sunday, it made me fully appreciate the power of believing in your dreams, believing in yourself, and believing that anything is possible.”
The season continues with round two at NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans May 20-22.