Edwards was sublime to watch from the grandstands

Sean Edwards leads a pack at Austin (Tony DiZinno)
0 Comments

Others who knew Sean Edwards or witnessed him in his international races will offer far better, likely longer, tributes. I can only offer a pair of reflections on his ability from a fan’s standpoint.

Earlier this year, I was doing PR for one of the teams racing in the American Le Mans Series. The team had not made the trip to Long Beach, and so I had the rare – but enjoyable – opportunity to watch the ALMS race there from the grandstands observing Turn 10.

It’s as good a corner as you’ll see on a street course – a sweeping left-hander that challenges drivers to push hard enough but not overdrive as immediately after completing the sweep, you have to brake quickly into Long Beach’s signature corner, the hairpin. At the same time, you have to acknowledge faster prototypes are going to be overtaking, so you have to be constantly aware and allow room without getting too far off line.

And it was there, you could see Edwards sawing at the wheel, pushing relentlessly, just that fraction of a second quicker than his rivals in the ultra competitive and often overlooked GTC class. It’s a spec class, so in the single make of Porsche Cup cars, the fans had the chance to see Edwards excel at his maximum. It marked Edwards’ first, and sadly only, ALMS victory.

Later this year, with those PR commitments dropped, I again went to an ALMS race but simply as a fan for the ALMS/FIA World Endurance Championship joint weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

My dad and I had the opportunity to cheer, scream and gasp as we watched the final half hour of the ALMS race. Here was Edwards, leading Damien Faulkner in another Porsche, fighting neck-and-neck throughout the circuit. Faulkner got past through traffic but only after an incredible defense offered by Edwards.

It was like watching two maestros conducting a symphony at once.

Sadly today, one of those two is gone.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

3 Comments

Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.