Calderon Joins Foyt Team; Kanaan Back to Ganassi for 500

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES doesn’t start its 2022 season until the final weekend of February when it contests the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg on the Florida city’s streets and municipal airport, but fields are filling fast and new competitors are coming to the United States’ premier open-wheel racing class.

Last week Ed Carpenter Racing, celebrating 10 years in operation, announced that Conor Daly would drive full-time for the team where he’s been delegated the team’s road-course/street-course driver in the No. 20 Chevrolet-powered Dallara since 2020.

Now one of the longest-standing teams in INDYCAR racing has announced a new driver and car No. 11 Chevrolet-powered racecar: A.J. Foyt Racing has created a third, road/street-course-only entry for Tatiana Calderon, who has secured sponsorship from ROKiT, the cell phone provider who already sponsors the No. 14 that will be driven this year by 2021 Indy Lights Road to Indy champion Kyle Kirkwood. The No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA continues with Dalton Kellett, entering his third year with the team.

Calderon, the 28-year-old Colombian native is the first female driven chosen by the Foyt team to enter the INDYCAR series. No driver has been selected for the series’ oval contests – to date.

“I’m thrilled and very thankful to Jonathan Kendrick (co-founder and chairman of ROKiT), ROKiT and A.J. Foyt Racing for the opportunity to race in the NTT INDYCAR Series,” Calderson stated. “Ever since I started my single seat career in the United States eleven years ago, INDYCAR has been a reference for me and it’s a dream come true to be on the grid this year. I can’t wait to get to St. Petersburg for the first race of the season. I’m well aware of the challenge ahead, but this is the chance of a lifetime and I’m keen on making the most of it.”

Kendrick and the ROKiT Group of Companies have supported Calderon’s career since 2020, when she competed in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and Super Formula Japan. “One of our fundamental principles in the overall marketing of the ROKiT brand worldwide is our support and promotion of women in motorsport and, as part of that principle, we’ve supported Tatiana for a long time now,” Kendrick explained.

“We recognized her talent and charisma early on, which we’ve seen grow and develop, so we’re very excited to be expanding our partnership with Larry [Foyt] and the A.J. Foyt Racing team, by having Tatiana drive the No. 11 Chevrolet alongside Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet this season.We know Tatiana is already a role model to many young female drivers around the world, and we think the huge exposure of the NTT INDYCAR Series will serve only to increase her reach even further, to become an inspiration to many more women to get involved in motorsports,” Kendrick concluded.

For the past two racing seasons, Calderon has competed in Japan’s Super Formula, driving for Threebond Drago Corse. As well, Calderon has driven for Richard Mille Racing in the FIA’s World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 prototype class. She has been an Alfa Romeo F1 test driver for the past four years, beginning in 2018. Her extensive resume includes stints in Formula 2, Renault Series Formula V8 3.5 – where she was the first female on the series’ podium at Bahrain in 2017. She has also competed in GP3, European Formula 3 and the British Formula 3 Series, where she, again, the first woman to achieve podium status.

Like so many successful racers, Calderon got her start in karts at age nine and became a Colombian champion before reaching her teenage years. She drove her first racing car at 14 and was a member of Juncos Racing when the team competed in the former Star Mazda Championship, which is still part of INDYCAR’s Road to Indy ladder classes, now called Indy Pro 2000.

Calderon first tested the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July of 2021. The Bogota, Colombia-born and current Madrid, Spain resident’s success in that test prompted talks of competing with the Foyt team in 2022, and those talks resulted in A.J. Foyt Racing president Larry Foyt signing and extension and expansion of the ROKiT sponsorship, along with the hiring of Calderon, after she impressed Foyt with her capabilities.

“I’m thrilled with the continuation and expansion of the ROKiT A.J. Foyt Racing Team,” Larry Foyt said. “We welcome Tatiana Calderon in car No. 11, joining Kyle Kirkwood in car No. 14, both in the very cool ROKiT liveries. Tatiana showed a lot of potential in her test at MId-Ohio. With Dalton Kellett in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet, I think our three-car team is in for an exciting season.”

Both Calderon and Kirkwood are scheduled to test on the Sebring, Florida short course this week, while Kellett is intending to serve as an advisor to the two newcomers. Both ROKiT drivers will make their INDYCAR debuts the weekend of February 25-27 at St. Petersburg. Kirkwood and Kellett are slated for all 17 INDYCAR races, while Calderon is racing in 12 of the series’ contests.

In other INDYCAR news, Chip Ganassi Racing, who entered 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan as seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s oval runner in 2021, has secured an American Legion-sponsored Honda-powered Dallara race car for Kanaan to race in the 106th Indianapolis 500, now that Johnson has elected to run all 17 races in 2022. Kanaan, who has been racing stock cars in his native Brazil, continues his second stay with Ganassi’s team; he was the No. 10 driver from 2014 through 2017 before rejoining the Mike Hull-managed squad in 2021.

About Anne Proffit 865 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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