After GPI Indy Lights win, Sean Rayhall launches crowdfunding campaign

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Sean Rayhall and 8Star Motorsports scored a popular win Saturday in the second of two Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Now the young American and the Enzo Potolicchio-led team will look to raise the funding to continue beyond the road course onto the oval, for the most prestigious event of the season: the Freedom 100.

Rayhall today has launched a crowdfunding campaign via Gofundme, in order to garner additional support for the balance of the season.

The media release is linked here.

Rayhall led all 35 laps in Saturday’s race two, but the 20-year-old American felt the one-hour sprint race was longer or more stressful than some endurance races he’s been a part of.

“In my head, that was longer than the six hours I’ve driven in endurance races!” Rayhall said after the race. “Jack (Harvey) was probably faster than me, but I was trying to save my tires for the end in case he got close. The restart had me nervous but I used a little trick I picked up driving Late Model (stock) cars to keep him back. After that, the only thing that was going through my head was to keep hitting my marks.”

For the driver who starred in Potolicchio’s Prototype Challenge car last year and then was poised to move up with him into Indy Lights, before they couldn’t find the budget, merely being part of the win battle was surreal enough – let alone beating everyone.

“I never expected this. Racing against guys like Max (Chilton), RC (Enerson), Ed (Jones), these guys have been doing open-wheel racing for the last five or six years, while I’ve done endurance racing. I’m inexperienced compared to them; it was an honor yesterday just to be on the podium with them so to be able to win, I’m just blown away.

“In the end, it’s another race car. It’s a switch in your head; you go from one to another, you drive different styles and push in different ways but you get to a point where you can flip it on and flip it off. But it’s very emotional: Enzo’s almost like a dad to me. He looks out for me – you don’t have very many team owners like that.”

And now, the hope is driver and team get to keep going and build on the most recent race.

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.