It’s always good to see former drivers put themselves into the management and ownership game. If you look at the IndyCar Series and its collection of teams, you’ll find most of the owners have raced competitively in the sport.
Standout racers and champions like Roger Penske, A.J. Foyt, Michael Andretti, Chip Ganassi, Dale Coyne, Sam Schmidt, Jimmy Vasser and Bobby Rahal have full-time teams. Ed Carpenter races and owns his full-time, two-car team. Former drivers Michael Shank and Ricardo Juncos also take part in INDYCAR competition, albeit on a part-time basis as they attempt to grow their stakes into full-time competition.
Today an American racer, Elton Julian, who competed successfully in both the USA and in international competition, including Formula One, announced that his endurance racing team, DragonSpeed, returns to U.S. competition in the IndyCar Series for the 2019 campaign.
The five-race endeavor includes the 103rd Indianapolis 500 as the team’s sole oval contest, together with entries at the season starter in St. Petersburg, Fla., at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, on the lengthy Road America, Wisc. road course and at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Ohio.
DragonSpeed makes its initial foray into the American open-wheel universe with Chevrolet power in a new Dallara chassis. The car is allocated to 33-year old Briton Ben Hanley, who enters his fourth season with the team having earned standing as one of the world’s leading sports car racers. This new group makes its on-track debut during the official INDYCAR pre-season test at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), set for February 12-13, 2019.
DragonSpeed is no stranger to racing success. The 2017 European Le Mans Series champions are part of the FIA World Endurance Championship and intend to bring their regular LMP1 and LMP2 machinery to the US for January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona twice around the clock winter classic, as well as the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring in March. They’ll also compete in June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“IndyCar is enjoying a major upswing, thanks to the quality of the racing produced by current regulations,” said Elton Julian, team principal. “The fans see it, the teams see it, the manufacturers and sponsors see it and I think NBC saw it when they decided to take on the television coverage.
“With so much interest from new entrants, we’re also grateful for INDYCAR’s support of our bid to join the series and to Chevy for making room for us in their engine program. For the team,” Julian continued, “it’s a matter of our growing experience catching up to our ambitions.” He noted that endurance racing has allowed DragonSpeed to enhance its abilities in preparation, race engineering, pit stops and strategy.
“We also have strong open wheel credentials up and down the team, and Ben’s pace and exceptional detail feel for set-up and ties should be a great asset,” Julian proclaimed.
“None of this is to underplay the difficulty of the challenge ahead, because the IndyCar Series is the toughest series we’ve ever contested, with the world’s biggest race as its centerpiece. On the other hand,” he added, “we didn’t go from club racing a decade ago, to a Pirelli World Challenge title in 2015, to prototypes at Le Mans without climbing a few mountains, and I take a lot of confidence from the talent and spirit of the people we’ve put together for the next summit.”