Newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden’s road to the title this year had several key moments and people along the way that saw his potential to win races.
In his first full season in Europe in 2009, eventual Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nick Tandy saw that in Newgarden, by way of his late brother’s, Joe Tandy, race team – Joe Tandy Racing.
Newgarden had drawn the team’s attention by way of his performance in the 2008 Formula Ford Festival, after he and Conor Daly had won the year’s Team USA Scholarship. Nick Tandy picked up the rest of the story from there.
“I paid attention to him the last eight years. We saw Josef come over to the U.K. the end of 2008, via the Team USA Scholarship,” Tandy told NBC Sports.
“He raced in the 1600 division of Formula Ford Festival and won that in that class. I think I was racing in the other class at the time. So I kind of noticed what was going on with him.
“Then he decided it’d be a good thing, between he and his family, to race in the U.K.
“He joined my brother’s team, Joe Tandy Racing, as we started the team in 2007. It was well-established by then. He very nearly won the title in his first year. He won the most races of anyone in the season; he just had a bit of bad luck that cost him a few races.”
The year between the Tandys and the Newgardens was one of triumph and tragedy, as Joe Tandy lost his life that year in a road accident at age 26. The bond between Newgarden and Nick Tandy, 32, has remained strong to this day.
“We’ve been great friends ever since. It was nice when we raced at Long Beach, IMSA and IndyCar. We’d always check in on each other to see what he’s up to,” Tandy reflected.
Tandy said how Newgarden integrated himself into the European scene spoke to his determination to succeed, since it can be difficult for Americans living abroad to do so.
After his one year with JTR in the British Formula Ford Championship, where he finished second in points, Newgarden moved onto GP3 the next year with Carlin.
“He’s got on really well in U.K. He came over literally on his own. And sometimes that’s not so nice for young guys coming over, moving away from home,” Tandy said.
“He integrated into the team and our family at JTR. And he’s been part of the team ever since.
“So we’ve always followed him. It was great to see him win at Sonoma.”