SONOMA, Calif. – Ed Carpenter Racing made a 2018 driver announcement on Wednesday with confirmation Spencer Pigot is set to move into a full-time seat in the Verizon IndyCar Series, replacing JR Hildebrand.
Carpenter’s got another move of a bigger variety about 2018 coming up at the end of the calendar year.
NBC Sports can confirm the team will move shops from its hub on Main St. in downtown Speedway, Ind., at 1255 Main St., in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to the former Forsythe Racing shop located at 7231 Georgetown Rd., in Indianapolis next season.
Carpenter said the team will have to vacate its existing shop in Speedway by December 31, and is scheduled to move into the old Forsythe shop before January, 2018. The team’s staff has been informed of the change of location.
That Forsythe shop most recently housed the Nissan LMP1 program, which was shuttered in December, 2015 after racing only once at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Wink Hartman, the former co-owner of the team then known as CFH Racing following the 2014 amalgamation of the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing teams, owns the building in Speedway. Hartman is now running for Governor of Kansas and ceased being an official team co-owner once CFH Racing dissolved following 2015, and the team revived the Ed Carpenter Racing name before 2016.
A new tenant is likely for 2018, with rumors swirling it could be either Carlin, which has not formally announced a step-up to the Verizon IndyCar Series from its Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program, or Harding Racing, which leased space in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s shop in Indianapolis this year for its initial three-race entry with driver Gabby Chaves.
Carlin’s Indy Lights team is based in Delray Beach, Florida.
Carpenter’s team concludes the 2017 season with Pigot and Hildebrand this weekend, in Hildebrand’s home race not far from his hometown of Sausalito, Calif. and in his last scheduled drive with the team he’s been with over parts of the last four seasons.
Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.
If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”
The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.
Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.
But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.
“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.
“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”
Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.
If #F1 wants to start looking around for an American driver, Colton Herta has a suggestion for where that search should start. https://t.co/71PVeu6aBj
Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.
A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.
“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.
“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”
During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:
–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;
–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;
–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”
–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.
“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”