Photo: IndyCar

Q&A: “Josef, the Indy Car Driver” book author/illustrator Chris Workman

Leave a comment

One of the elements that made Josef Newgarden’s Road America weekend busier than a normal one was the fact his children’s book – “Josef, the Indy Car Driver” launched during the weekend.

Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series is the subject and featured driver in the book, written and illustrated by Chris Workman.

Workman is the owner of Apex Legends, a content creation and publishing company that looks to find and create the next generation of race fans. NBCSN lead F1 and IndyCar announcer Leigh Diffey has written the foreword.

The hardcover picture book is available via ApexLegends.com/store and Amazon. A donation to Racing for Kids will occur for every book sold at the store.

We caught up with Workman at Road America. Here’s his thoughts on the creative process as the book launched:

JN-Poster-Framed_e46276bc-3a19-4d38-a018-d1edd2a2f24d_1024x1024

NBCSports.com: What was the buildup process to getting the book created and launched?

Chris Workman: “We’d done an IndieGoGo campaign last fall, and that was to get some interest around the book, get some pre-sale and so forth. This is the official launch, this weekend.”

NBC: Of course now to premiere it here after what’s happened the last couple weeks (Newgarden’s accident at Texas and pressing on through the pain) has to be a bit surreal!

CW: “It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I was watching via timing & scoring and saw him drop to 22nd, quickly went to Twitter and we thought, well this is unreal. I’ve been in contact with him a little bit, but his big focus was getting ready.

“When I heard he was going to be here, it was just amazing.”

NBC: What was the idea behind the book? Was this your idea? His?

CW: “It was my idea I brought to him. My first book was on Le Mans in the ’60s, so I wanted to do something more modern and current, and just look at the overall landscape of drivers in IndyCar, Josef immediately came to mind. He won Alabama last year.

“So I began to approach him about the concept, and he was immediately on board. He saw it as something different, as a unique way to get fans engaged and educated.

“I chose Road America. I was going to do Alabama – Barber – or Toronto initially because he won there. But once Road America got back on the schedule it was like coming home. It was the first race I ever went to. I grew up in Milwaukee. It’s very personal to me to tell the story for kids getting excited and motivated about racing here, because you couldn’t tell the story at a cooler track when all was said and done! All the stars aligned.”

NBC: We get to see Josef in a team dynamic on a regular basis. How was he to work with for you? What was the feedback and process between you two?

CW: “He was primarily like, ‘I like what you are doing, and I want to respect your creative process.’ So run stuff by him and his manager. ‘Hey guys is this correct?’ But for the most part Josef was relatively hands off on the formation of the story. He immediately bought into the idea of his telling about how he became a driver, because he wants to help other kids realize the path of going from – in his case, a motorized scooter – all the way from racing in his neighborhood to becoming a racing driver. We wanted it to be attainable. There’s two parts about his career, then the race, then join it together.”

NBC: Does Josef work because he’s one of the drivers sellable and appealable to the next generation?

CW: “The biggest challenge for the book was trying to make it current so the fans can recognize it and see turn on TV, and see similar to what’s in the books, with legs. It’s funny to see how the paint schemes have turned up, how they actually are versus what I predicted. Some I got right, some not! Dixon in a dayglo yellow would have been a complete unknown. That was challenging.

“But in Josef’s case, the fact he’s around for a while and Direct Supply is huge here, and supported him, gives that some legitimacy. Odds are good there will always be a Direct Supply car – at least in Wisconsin – so year-to-year there is continuity.

“He’s such a kid at heart!”

INDYCAR announces several rules and protocol changes for 2018 season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series opener is still more than six weeks away (March 11, St. Petersburg, Florida).

But several rules and protocol changes that will impact much of the 17-race season were announced today by INDYCAR officials.

First is related to Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 19-20, one week prior to the 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing:

* Driver and entrant points will be awarded to the top nine qualifiers for the race. The pole winner earns nine points and the second-fastest qualifier eight points, with awarded points decreasing by one point for each position down to one point earned by the ninth-fastest qualifier.

* Race points for the Indianapolis 500 and the 2018 season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 16, will still pay double the normal points for driver and entrant.

There are several other changes on tap for the season, as well.

Here’s a quick rundown of those changes (information courtesy of INDYCAR):

  • The qualifying order for all oval track events except the Indianapolis 500 will be determined by entrant points entering the event. The qualifying order will run in reverse order of entrant points, with the highest in entrant points qualifying last. A car without entrant points will be placed at the front of the qualifying line. If more than one car has no entrant points entering an event, a blind draw among those cars will determine their qualifying order at the front of the line. The qualifying order for the Indianapolis 500 will still be determined by a blind draw.
  • Times have been set for the series-wide open test at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix Raceway), scheduled for Feb. 9-10. The track will be open to all cars from 3-6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. ET both days. INDYCAR has also added four hours of track time on Feb. 8 (3-7 p.m. ET) for rookie drivers to complete their oval test assessments.
  • The series-wide open test at Portland International Raceway will be held Aug. 30, a day prior to the beginning of the Grand Prix of Portland race weekend. Indy car racing returns to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 11 years in 2018.
  • A schedule change for the month of May will see the INDYCAR garages closed on May 13 – the day after the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – to allow teams time off for Mother’s Day. The track will not be open to the public on this day. The garages will be open on May 14, but there will be no on-track activity.
  • Practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 begins Tuesday, May 15 on the IMS oval, with the first two hours open for rookie orientation and veteran refreshers, then to all cars. Practice continues May 16-18, ahead of qualifications weekend May 19-20.
  • INDYCAR is granting teams that did not participate in fall manufacturer testing with the universal aero kit an additional half day of private testing. The testing is limited to one car per team and must take place in conjunction with the team’s first on-track test of 2018. Each team is permitted five hours of track time and two sets of Firestone tires.
  • Working with Firestone, INDYCAR has increased the tire allotment at five events. The race weekends at ISM Raceway (Phoenix), the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Texas Motor Speedway, the streets of Toronto and Iowa Speedway will see teams receive an additional set of tires. In a related change, drivers outside the top 10 in the point standings will no longer have an extra set of tires available to them for the opening practice session of a race weekend.
  • The minimum car weight for 2018 has been increased by 10 pounds – to 1,620 pounds for road and street courses and short ovals, 1,590 pounds for superspeedways (both do not include fuel, drink bottle and its contents, driver and driver equivalency weight) – to accommodate for new parts and additional on-car cameras related to the universal aero kit all competitors will run in 2018.