Photo: Carlin Media

Colton Herta set for Indy Lights in Steinbrenner/Andretti linkup

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Talented 16-year-old teenager Colton Herta, son of Indianapolis 500-winning team owner Bryan Herta, will make his return Stateside in the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

The junior version of “Hertamania” has starred in Europe the last couple years with Carlin, and this year won four races in the EuroFormula Open championship. He has raced in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires before, competing in all but one weekend of the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. He missed the St. Petersburg weekend that year as he wasn’t 14 yet.

Now set to become one of the youngest drivers in Indy Lights history, Herta’s confirmation at Andretti Autosport is brought together following a linkup between the Andrettis and the Steinbrenner family.

The No. 98 Dallara IL-15 Mazda entry will be branded as a joint Andretti Autosport/Steinbrenner Racing effort, run by George Michael Steinbrenner IV, Hank Steinbrenner’s son and a grandson of longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Sean Jones, the youngest Steinbrenner’s stepdad, is a business partner of Bryan Herta’s, notably on the Bryan Herta Rallysport Red Bull Global Rallycross program.

“The Andrettis want to be partners with Steinbrenners; the Steinbrenners want to be partners with the Andrettis,” Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Times, in a piece which was first to announce the news this morning. “It’s a natural match.”

Herta completes Andretti’s expansion to a four-car lineup for 2017, along with previously announced teammates Dalton Kellett (No. 28), Nico Jamin (No. 27) and Ryan Norman (No. 48).

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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