IndyCar

IndyCar: Jack Harvey debuts clever new series ‘You Don’t Know Jack’

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There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion in motorsports, particularly if it brings greater awareness of and fan interest to a certain driver.

And the more creative the self-promotion, the more attention the driver hopes he will get from fans and media.

Such is the case with IndyCar driver Jack Harvey, who this past week debuted a new mini-series of sorts about himself as a driver, his personality and interests, and behind-the-scenes scenarios of his team, Meyer Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Harvey is quickly becoming a fan favorite in IndyCar.

The new monthly get-to-know-me series of videos is cleverly dubbed, “You Don’t Know Jack.”

The goal of the videos is ultimately to get you to know a lot about Jack. The plan is to have a new video released on the third Thursday of every month throughout the off-season and into the 2019 season.

Harvey competed in six races for the Meyer Shank operation in 2018, with a top finish of 12th at Long Beach. He also was in contention for the Indianapolis 500 before falling back late in the race to a 16th-place showing.

But really, who is Jack Harvey? That’s where “You Don’t Know Jack” comes in. With Harvey and MSR set to do as many as 10 races next season – up from six in 2018 – and potentially a full-time effort in 2020, he’s hoping to attract more fans and interest to his team and himself.

Here’s the first video, followed by a Q&A with the 25-year-old Bassingham, England native on his thoughts behind the series.

Q) How did “You Don’t Know Jack” come about?

Harvey: It’s something my dad and I had been talking about for a while, like a website feature. It’s always been one of those things that has been on the back-burner, but we wanted to put something out there where people might not know or have easy access to – and give people a different insight – but it just never really happened.

But this year, our following is growing and it seems like people are always commenting or saying something might be a cool idea, or they’d like to learn more about something that we can’t always say. I thought that was a great idea, kind of like our old website idea. It kind of spiraled from there and into this. We kind of wanted something that would be funny and people would take it light-heartedly, but also informative and give people insight into what I have to do, what I want to do, all the people we work with, people you see at the track and don’t see at the track, the unsung heroes.

Q) The first video is very well done. It was the perfect balance of light-heartedness as well as informative-ness.

Harvey: That’s what we’re trying to strike. Some episodes may have a slightly heavier feel to them, but honestly, we just wanted to hopefully get a bit of traction, people might share it and retweet it. We felt that if we could just get it out there, hopefully it will go very well. It’s meant to be consistent every month, the third Thursday of every month. It’s one of those things where you want your personality to come through a little bit, and also know there’s a serious side to it. I was thrilled when I saw what was put together for Episode 1.

Harvey prepares for the 2018 Indianapolis 500

Q) How many episodes do you plan on doing? Will this just be during the off-season or will it continue into the season?

Harvey: Honestly, this is sort of a thing that we’d like to do every month (including into next season). With the (2018) season now finished, we don’t want to spank people with just rubbishing their time. We want to make sure we have something that’s worth looking at and it’s worth everyone’s time and the investment into to hope it goes well. Certainly, the goal is just to get the first video up and running. And we’re excited about the next one that will come out next month, and a different video every month after that. That kind of combination, if they start to fall the right way and get the traction we’d like to see, people will look at it.

It covers a lot of ground. It allows people to get inside the team and me, and also allows us to give back a little bit to our sponsors, to publicly acknowledge the support we get from them. It gives insight for people into me as a person. One of the things we might do in an upcoming episode is to do a shop tour of Meyer Shank Racing, as well as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, to show both of our teams. People don’t always know those things, they don’t always see it.

So we may have someone follow me around the race weekend and see from when I get up in the morning until I go to sleep. Another one might be what I do across an average week. I mean, I like to go to the movies. Maybe we could have a section on that.

I’d like to give them more than just what we do at the track. I’d also like to maybe do something on my fitness trainers and the importance of training, or some of the things our sponsors are doing because some of those things are pretty cool.

Q) Any other clever ideas on the horizon?

Another idea may be, my manager bought me a guitar for my birthday this year. He said I have too much free time on my hands, especially during the off-season. So one of the things we might do in an episode is, ‘Jack learns how to play guitar.’

Q) Given Will Power plays drums and Mikhail Aleshin (sat out this past IndyCar season) plays guitar, maybe you guys could form a band? 

Who knows, Will could play drums, Mikhail could play guitar, I could play bass because it’s easier to play than guitar, and then all we’d need is a singer. So if you know anybody, let me know. I’m not a very good singer (he said with a laugh). I feel like Josef (Newgarden) should be the singer because he just has that look (another laugh).

But given Will was singing the Red Hot Chili Peppers and did part of a rap song at Sonoma, maybe we can have him on drums and lead vocals. That would be awesome.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NHRA: Antron Brown takes major step toward team ownership

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There will come a day that when three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown wants to talk to his boss, he’ll need to look no further than in the mirror.

The New Jersey native announced Tuesday that he has begun to lay the groundwork to own his Top Fuel team, eventually branching out from Don Schumacher Racing.

“It’s definitely exciting, but at the same time, it’s also nerve-wracking because the buck stops here right now,” Brown told NBC Sports. “Now the coolest part is you get to help and drive and motivate and push the team forward, to make decisions and leave a legacy behind for my family.”

Brown will continue racing for DSR this season while beginning the transition to eventual sole ownership of the new AB Motorsports in the future. Even when he officially leaves the DSR camp as a hired driver, Brown and his new team will retain a technical partnership with the Schumacher organization.

Moving toward team ownership is just a natural evolution for Brown, who previously ran his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team from 1998 until joining DSR in 2002. It’s also a move that potentially may lead other current drivers to start thinking about their own futures.

It’s no secret that many of the biggest names in drag racing – both drivers and owners – are getting up in years. John Force will soon turn 72, while Schumacher is 75. They’re among several others in the sport who are making contingency plans for their teams to continue to operate once they’re gone – and Brown wants to do his part to help the sport grow and flourish.

“When you’re able to have ownership, you’re looking at the talent coming up,” Brown said. “You’re able to reach down and see and give other people opportunities that you had. When I came to race for Don Schumacher at DSR, he’s given all these people at his place this opportunity to drive.

“But what happens when the Don Schumachers, the John Forces, the Connie Kalittas go? You lose all the owners of our series, so who’s next in line to take over that lineage or carry that torch? It’s a necessary means for the future for the upcoming people.

Antron Brown’s plans to become a team owner were embraced by his current team owner, Don Schumacher. (Getty Images)

“I’ve been in this sport for over 20 years. This is the next evolution of my chapter, the next page of my book. What am I going to do when I decide to hang the helmet up one day? I want to be there to bring that new crop of drivers and talent up and help mold them to be the best version of themselves to carry the sport forward and to share with them what was shared with me over all my years in the sport, from Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Big Daddy Don Garlits, Mark Oswald and Don “Snake” Prudhomme, all the people I looked up to.”

While Brown will start as a single-car team once he transitions to ownership, he hopes to eventually build AB Motorsports into at least a two-car operation, with his Top Fuel dragster and a Funny Car.

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The path to eventual ownership began nearly a year ago when Brown and Schumacher discussed the future.

“Me and Don had a heart-to-heart talk,” Brown said. “When I told him what I wanted to do, Don said, ‘Antron, I know this is what you want to do. I’ll support you in this.’

“That’s a cool experience when you have a gentleman that has done everything in this sport, from over 350 national event wins, 17 world championships – and I’ve done three with him – and is in every motorsports hall of fame there is.

“What is he going to do next? He’s making the sport better by pushing people like myself to do what I’m doing now. No matter how long it takes, I know I have him on my backside, pushing me to get to that point.”

Like father, like son: Antron Brown and son Anson, who is following in his father’s drag racing footsteps. Photo: Antron Brown’s official Facebook page.

His family’s future also figured into Brown’s decision. His oldest son, Anson, soon turns 16 years old and is heavily involved in NHRA’s Jr. Dragster program, as are Brown’s other children. It’s likely his son some day will follow in his father’s footsteps.

But don’t think that the elder Brown, who turns 44 in March, is ready to hang up his firesuit just yet.

“I’ll stop driving when I feel I’m not capable to drive no more and I’m not having fun no more,” he said. “That’s nowhere in the near future. I know I’m going to drive for at least another 15 years.”

Heading into this season, Brown will retain current sponsorship from Mac Tools and Toyota, as well as associate sponsorship from Hangsterfer’s on his 11,000-horsepower dragster. Global Electronic Technology also has signed on as a new associate sponsor in a multiyear deal.

“It’s no secret this has been a goal of Antron’s for a while now, and I’m happy to be able to provide the tools and resources needed for him to be able to successfully branch out on his own,” Schumacher said in a team media release. “It’s important for me to see my team members grow.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Brown burst upon the NHRA scene atop a Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998, earning 16 wins over the next 10 seasons. He joined DSR in 2002 and made the switch to Top Fuel in 2008.

Since then, Brown – who now resides in suburban Indianapolis – has gone on to become one of the winningest drivers in Top Fuel history with 50 national event victories, as well as three championships between 2012 and 2015.

That performance recently earned him AutoWeek magazine’s Top Fuel Driver of the Decade.

Brown also announced Tuesday he is reuniting with former crew chief Brian Corradi, who returns to the team after spending the last two seasons as co-crew chief for 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. Corradi will share crew chief duties for Brown with NHRA veteran Mark Oswald.

* * * * * * * * * * *

When he won his first title in 2012, Brown became the first African-American world champion in Top Fuel history. He hopes his move to ownership will continue to grow NHRA’s already significant focus on opportunities for minorities and females in the sport.

“I think it’s important across all spectrums, period,” Brown said. “I think a lot of fans see me, and they can relate to me because I am them. I came from a good, hard-working family in Chesterfield, New Jersey, which is right next door to Trenton.

“Everybody in my family from my great uncles to my grandpop made their own way, had their own businesses, from swimming pool to paving to septic tank businesses.

“One thing my grandpop said to me is the world is wide open. He said, ‘Son, you can have anything you want in this world, as long as you put the effort and put the work towards it.’ If people can resonate with my story from where I came from and where I’m heading, I hope it gives them this energy, this ray of hope that ‘if Antron Brown can do this, so can I.’

“That’s the only way for motorsports to grow. It’s for the young ones to get interested in it and I want them to know the opportunity is there. All they have to do is take it.”

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Brown will be among more than 30 Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers who will take part in this weekend’s annual preseason “spring training” test at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals Feb. 6-9 in Pomona, California.

Follow @JerryBonkowski