Bryan Herta’s son, Colton, ready to follow in dad’s footsteps and tire tracks in Indy Lights

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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There’s following in a father’s footsteps, but Colton Herta is taking things one step father, so to speak, also following in the tire tracks of father and former racer turned team co-owner Bryan Herta.

The younger Herta is preparing to follow another path his father blazed, that of racing in the Indianapolis 500. The elder Herta is also a two-time Indy 500 winning car owner, including the car 2016 500 winner Alexander Rossi drove.

To follow his father’s path, Colton – who turns 17 on March 20 – is preparing for this year’s 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

Colton has a lot to live up to. His father was the 1993 Indy Lights champion. Colton also has prior MRTI experience in 2014, but was unable to compete in the Cooper Tires USF2000 championship due to age requirements – even though he still earned six top-10 finishes in his rookie year.

After two years of living by himself – and racing – in Europe, the younger Herta is back in the U.S. for 2017. He will compete in the Indy Lights Series for a new team that is a joint effort between his father’s Andretti Autosport organization and George Michael Steinbrenner IV, grandson of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“My dad raced against his stepdad in Barber Saab, so George Michael came to one of my Skip Barber races at Lime Rock Park,” Colton Herta said, in an interview with the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires. “We really clicked and he came to all my USF2000 races in 2014.

“He was working with my dad on the Andretti Autosport Global Rallycross team and gaining experience, and decided he wanted to do this full time. Michael Andretti was on board, so it all came together pretty fast.

“I hope we’ll see some of the Yankees players at the St. Pete race – their spring training facility is in Tampa and they’re in town Saturday and Sunday. And maybe Watkins Glen.”

Moving to Europe by himself was a big challenge, but Colton quickly developed not only a good support system overseas, he also raced for the noted Carlin team.

“I’d always wanted to race in Europe, so when I got the chance with Carlin, I took it,” he said. “It was a big eye-opener. I moved over there when I was 14 and lived on my own for two years. It was a big step but it really did mature me – sort of like going to college, if you went to college when you were 14 years old!

“Carlin is a really powerful team and they’re very good at what they do. Trevor Carlin and the whole team made the transition really easy for me. The engineers are particularly good at adapting drivers and I got into a ton of different cars – FIA F3, Formula F3, British F3, F4. It will be interesting racing against them this year!”

While his father remains at the center of Colton’s career as both an inspiration and supporter (and now co-team owner), Colton almost seemed destined to be a race car driver from almost after he was born.

“I did the normal kid sports like baseball and soccer, but everything always came back to racing,” he said. “That’s always been the main focus! I remember being in the motorhome and going to almost every race when my dad was driving for Andretti.

“I suppose I wanted to race because my dad did, and I was around it my whole life which amplified that. I started racing dirt bikes before I was 4 years old then raced karts from age 5 to 12. I’m not sure when it really got serious: it started with club racing, then some national championships then international racing. It just clicked. I really enjoyed working with the mechanics and working on the kart. I loved to see the progress.”

Being part of the Mazda Road to Indy will not only offer Colton additional experience in further developing his racing career, there is also one other key benefit: Indy Lights races at most of the same tracks and on the same weekends as the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“You can talk to so many of the IndyCar drivers, the guys who have been racing on those tracks for 20 years,” he said. “You have them as a resource.”

Being back on American racing soil for the first time in two seasons, the younger Herta is keeping expectations low for a start. But he definitely has higher expectations as he gets more comfortable as the season progresses.

“I don’t really have too many expectations,” Herta said. “I just want to see how it goes. We have a good car so I know we’ll be quick in preseason testing. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and not making too many rookie mistakes.”

As for how long he plans to compete in the Indy Lights Series, Colton has a very clear plan for both then and beyond.

“I think two years in the series is reasonable,” he said. “Hopefully I can do well, win a championship and move up to the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

Colton is also like his father in another way, both having a unique sense of humor. For example, when asked if he has a “hidden talent,” Colton reflects to one of the things while he raced in Europe.

“I am a good cook, since I’ve had two and a half years of experience cooking for myself! I can make a mean steak, but chicken teriyaki is my best dish.”

And when asked if he wasn’t driving a race car, Colton was very matter of fact of what he would be:

“Broke! I don’t know what else I could do. My talent pool is a little shallow, so it’s race car driver or bust.”

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Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.