Colton Herta will have a very familiar voice in his ear for the NTT IndyCar Series races this season, though in a way he never has heard before.
The Andretti Autosport driver revealed Thursday that his father, Bryan, will be his race strategist on his rebranded No. 26 Dallara-Honda with Gainbridge sponsorship. It’s part of personnel moves that also include former co-owners George Steinbrenner IV and Mike Harding leaving the team.
“It’s a little different; what’s kind of been nice, now my dad is actually my strategist, which a lot of people didn’t know that,” Herta said. “It’s very unknown in the media. Yeah, I’m looking forward to that.
“Obviously I lost George and Mike. I’m very grateful for what they did for me to get me into IndyCar. But looking forward this year, working with the whole Andretti crew, also my dad, which is going to be a big change for me.”
It’ll be the first time in Colton Herta’s career that Bryan Herta will call races for his son, who finished third in the IndyCar points standings with a victory at Mid-Ohio last season.
“Never talked to him on the radio until we were testing wintertime,” Herta, 20, said. “It’s been very different. I don’t think he’s ever heard me talk on the radio before. He’s always kind of put me in the best position for people that are very smart to work around me and help me with that.
“I think for most teenagers growing up, the last thing they want to hear is their parents nag them and tell them what to do. I understand that he’s right, but that is the last thing I wanted to hear.”
Though other father-son duos (Michael and Marco Andretti, Bobby and Graham Rahal) haven’t worked well as driver-strategist combinations, Bryan Herta, who also owns a sports car team, brings an accomplished resume for tactics. He was the architect of Indy 500 victories for Dan Wheldon (2011) and Alexander Rossi (2016), both with fuel mileage as an important component, and called races for Marco Andretti.
“Obviously, neither of us would do it if we didn’t think we could do it,” Bryan Herta told IndyCar.com. “We’re well aware of the potential pitfalls, and we’re going into this with our eyes open to avoid (any).”
Colton Herta said a similar demeanor should be the main key to their success.
“I think you can tell by now that we’re both pretty mellow,” Colton Herta said of his father. “We don’t get excited, and we don’t get upset or very sad. We stay pretty even. Our emotions don’t really get the better of us.
“I think the other personalities will get heated at each other, where I don’t think it would happen with us because of how mellow we are.”