Friday, April 13, 2018

Indy Cars Current Crop of Cool Californian Drivers

No Fenders Tomaso chats briefly with then Marussia F1 Reserve Driver Alexander Rossi at Will Buxton's Bigtime Bash at Austin during the 2014 USGP weekend. (The Tomaso Collection)
After all, The Raisin State has produced some of the Sport's Best Drivers over the years...

Otay, I'm almost done with my current fascination over The Raisin State, which naturally was sparked by my very enjoyable Roadtrip Thar this past January.

Which set my mind Ah-wonderin' just how many of today's IndyCar drivers Hail from  California? Especially since the first of their two Home races is just round the corner on the lumpy Streets of Long Beach. Which hopefully I'll be able to catch this coming Sunday...

Charlie Kimball
DOB: February 20, 1985; Age 33
Chertsey, Surrey; UK
Team: Carlin
Car No. 23
First Race: St Pete, 2011
Seasons: 8
Wins: 1
Poles: 1

As I'd previously surmised, Charlie was born Across thou Puddle when his father Gordon was "On Assignment" working for McLaren International in Bloody Woking, England, alongside some Bloke named John Barnard.

As surely Charlie got his motor racing "Bug" from his father's career as a multi-winning racecar Designer, whose cars have won the Indy 500. Not to mention race Engineering  somebody with the first name Ayrton to the 1990 F1 World Championship!

With Grizzled Journo' Joe Saward doing his usual Yeoman like job expounding upon this last winter in his yearly Fascinating F1 Facts series...

Yet the young Charlie grew up in Camarillo, California, where his family has farmed Avocados for decades now in Ventura County. which recently No Fenders 'Offical Photographer CARPETS' told me how Charlie was on local Indianapolis Radio mentioning how the Farm was burned badly during last year's Uber' destructible Thomas Fire!

And instead of repeating Thyself over Charlie's racing career, what I'm more interested in now, is how he'll progress after spending his first seven seasons in IndyCar driving for The Cheepster', aka Chip Ganassi.

As Kimball's move to another team makes me ponder a Questione I've had before, about how drivers careers change, or falter after leaving one of the "Big Three" IndyCar teams, i.e.; Penske, Ganassi and Andretti.

Although I've long been more intrigued over whether or not a race driver can progress after leaving the lofty confines of el capitano', nee Roger Penske or Ganassi, or if it's ultimately the Zenith of their Open Wheel Racing career? Having pondered this ever since Ryan Briscoe got a second chance in Indy Cars when Cheep' threw him a Lifeline to drive his third Indy 500 entry in 2013 - the year I met him briefly at Mother Speedway.

Next he took over J.R. Hildebrand's seat at Panther Racing before landing a Fulltime Gig with Ganassi for 2014 after Dario Franchitti's sudden retirement after his horrendous wreck at Houston! Before being replaced by Sage Dangerboy' Karam for the 2015 season.

And I'll admit for the majority of his IndyCar career, I've not been a Fan of Charlie's, even if he seems like a very pleasant Chap. But somehow that changed all of a sudden last year with One Lap Down's Jeffrey Iannucci's typical Wordsmithing Brilliance, when naming him "Narly Pinball." Causing me to see him in a totally different light!

While Charlie and his wife's affinity for Canines and the Outdoors only further changes my tune towards the Californian...

Naturally, with Carlin being a brand new IndyCar team this year, it'll take a little time for results to come, albeit Carlin's a multi series Championship winner Across thou Puddle in the Bloody UK,

Not to mention reportedly having had some 200-plus Drivers pass thru it's doors upon it's Stairway to the Pinnacle 'O Motorsports, nee Formula 1. With just a few being Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Takuma Sato, Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen amongst others.

Alexander Rossi
DOB:  September 25, 1981; Age 26
Nevada City, California
Team: Andretti Autosport
Car No. 27
First Race: St Pete, 2016
Seasons: 3
Wins: 2
Poles: 1

Everybody knows that Alexander Rossi unexpectedly won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 upon his maiden outing at the Brickyard in 2016.

And I've regaled Y'all 'bout having actually met him Wayback in 2014 in Austin, when he was still an aspiring Formula 1 Driver, who's now currently the latest Yank' to race in F1, albeit very briefly, before being Out-funded for his seat in 2016! Ergo the switch to Indy Cars, which I'd say the moves worked out pretty well, Eh?

And Rossi's definitely been on a Charm Offensive ever since winning the Indy 500, having most recently competed in this past season's Amazing Race on CBS with his roommate Conor Daly.

But try as I might, since I do like Rossi, and definitely feel he's the "Biggest Threat" of these four Californian's to fight for the IndyCar Crown vs. Penske's trio, Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal. Along with being on the path to Super Stardom, Thars' just Somme-thun' that makes me hesitate towards choosing who I'm calling the new "Joe Cool" as one of my Top-3 Favourite Drivers this year.

Especially since the Driver he gave a LUV' Tap to at St Pete, nee the past Young Wicky', now just plain Robby, or formally known as Robert Wickens beat Rossi for the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series title.

Having prattled on before 'bout how I'd predicted Rossi, Wickens and Esteban Gutierrez to be the next Rising Starz' trio in Formula 1 as far back as 2011, albeit didn't get round to mentioning it 'til the following year's Young Drivers test at yas Isle.

Spencer Pigot
DOB:  September 29, 1983; Age 24
Los Angeles, California
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Car No. 21
First Race: St Pete, 2016
Seasons: 3
Wins: 0
Poles: 0

For Mwah, Spencer's still a bit of an unknown IndyCar talent, albeit knowing he won the Pro Mazda & Indy Lights titles in 2014-15 respectively. Then taking his Lights Championship's cheque to Boobie Ruble's enterprise, making his first three IndyCar starts for Bobby Rahal & Company, including the Indy GP and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, which he finished 25th.

Afterwards, "FAST EDDIE," aka Ed Carpenter signed him as his "Twisties" (Road Course & Street Circuits) specialist for the remaining seven races of 2016. Which Spencer retained this role for his Sophomore campaign, plus a "One-off" drive at the Brickyard for his past team Juncos Racing.

Pigot has steadily improved, and will run his first Full season for Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) this year aboard the No. 21 entry, although I have to say I found Rookie Jordan King's Debutante outing at St Pete as ECR's new Twisty' Pilote far more impressive then Spencer's outing.

But I know, One race doesn't define Yuhs, the weather was Wacky; Yada-Yada-Yada. But King certainly shined in ST Pete, only outperformed by Wickens...

Kyle Kiser
DOB:  March 5, 1996; Age 22
Santa Clara, California
Team: Juncos Racing
Car No. 32
First Race: Phoenix, 2018
Seasons: Rookie
Wins: 0
Poles: 0

Kyle Kiser, the reigning Indy Lights Champion made his IndyCar debut on the Oval at Phoenix International; Err ISM Raceway, qualifying a respectable 14th and finishing P21 after contacting the wall on Lap-174. And will make just his second ever start on totally different terrain at Long Beach this weekend.

Although Kiser's never Wowed Mwah, as he seems to be more cut from the "Steady Eddie" (Lawson) mold. Thars' another past Californian driver who was known for his smooth consistency, known as Rocket Rick' Mears.

So who knows how Kiser's IndyCar career will ultimately pan out? As I'd Arse-sume' his and current Team Owner Ricardo Juncos first goal will be to secure funding to run an entire season next year.

(Photo C/o Nelie Austin' Photography)