Herta Determined To Rally For Indy Lights Title

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Mazda Road to Indy 0 Comments

Colton Herta hopes to win the Indy Lights championship and graduate to the Verizon IndyCar Series. (Road to Indy photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Colton Herta has been in the spotlight from the moment he set foot in a go-kart at age five.

So the pressure the 17-year-old Californian finds himself under now, locked in a battle for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship, is nothing new.

But what is new are the stakes: a Mazda scholarship that promises entry into three Verizon IndyCar Series events in 2018 — including the Indianapolis 500 — and the chance to add to the lore already attached to the Herta name in American open-wheel racing.

Herta is also well-versed in the pressure that comes along with being the son of 1993 Indy Lights champion, former IndyCar driver and two-time Indianapolis 500-winning car owner Bryan Herta.

But this season in Indy Lights, only his second year on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, has established Herta as a formidable opponent in his own right as he took a victory at the season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., in only his second Indy Lights race.

Herta was thrust into the championship conversation even as the realization struck that, should he win the title, he would be too young to compete in an Indy car at St. Pete in 2018.

But this season in Indy Lights, only his second year on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, has established Herta as a formidable opponent in his own right as he took a victory at the season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg, in only his second Indy Lights race. Herta was thrust into the championship conversation even as the realization struck that, should he win the title, he would be too young to compete in an Indy car at St. Pete in 2018.

His racing exploits are well-documented, including a highly successful karting career, a season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the decision to make his own name in Europe at age 14 with European open-wheel powerhouse Carlin, two years racing European formula cars and the return to America this season with Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing.

Herta entered the Indy Lights championship this season with good friend George Michael Steinbrenner IV and backing from Michael Andretti’s eponymous team, as the duo set about a two-year plan to graduate to the top step of American open-wheel racing.

That plan nearly went out the window in March, as Herta outstripped even his own expectations by winning the second race of the year from pole position.

“It did change the mindset a little bit,” Herta admits. “We felt as though we were really in the championship fight at that point. The goal every weekend was to win races and do the best we could and get the most points, but it’s always been a two-year plan in the back of my mind, though if we do win it, it would be pretty hard to say no to that million dollars!”

“I’ve never done a second year in any series that I’ve run,” Herta continued. “It’s actually easier because you know what to expect. I had never been on many of the tracks we raced on this year, so it would help to come back for a second year, knowing what to expect from the tires as the race goes on and knowing what you want from the car going into the race. That’s why you usually see second-year drivers win the championship.”

Continued on the next page…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *