Bruce Martin

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IndyCar’s Bryan Herta remains hopeful through COVID-19 shutdown

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Colton Herta’s father, Bryan, is sometimes asked for advice on a variety of topics by his son. They can range on questions about racing or about life.

As a team co-owner of the No. 98 Honda at Andretti Autosport, Bryan Herta is often consulted on business and performance topics.

Herta usually likes to have the answers.

But he struggles with one question that has hovered over the NTT IndyCar Series since it was shut down on March 13.

“When do we go back to racing? It’s complete conjecture,” Herta told NBCSports.com. “Not knowing is hard.”

In the face of adversity, all Herta can do is hope.

“I’m hopeful,” he said. “I don’t want to say I’m confident because I don’t really know. I don’t think anybody does. I’m hopeful. We have to follow what the government is advising and what other sports are doing as well. I’m hopeful we can go back to racing.

“In my mind, personally, do we go back to racing without fans at first? Are they closed events, but still bring it to a television audience? It seems like it is going to be a longer, slower process to have crowds of people. But I don’t really know.”

Bryan Herta (left), Michael Andretti (center), Marco Andretti (right) — INDYCAR Photo

In addition to his partnership at Andretti Autosport, Herta also owns an IMSA Sports Car team at Bryan Herta Autosport. It’s a Hyundai Motorsport effort that competes in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

While that team has shut down, Herta’s operation is giving back to the community by creating safety masks for first responders in the state of Indiana.

“On our IMSA team, we’re going to try to do as much as we can,” Herta said. “Some of our guys on the IMSA team are building some safety masks for first responders for the State of Indiana. We’re going to chip in and do as much as we can before they tell us, ‘Let’s go. Load your trucks. Let’s go racing.’”

Herta’s effort is separate from the Andretti Autosport program that is currently building framework for medical face shields.

“We’re assembling masks,” Herta explained. “Andretti has 3D printing technologies and are making parts to assemble safety shields. We are going to do some of the assembly and prepping them to go off to hospitals around the state of Indiana.

“We’ve worked through a number of groups in the state, including the Indiana Economic Development Commission. When we got shut down, we told them we have people, trucks, a facility and if we could help the community, let us know. That was a couple of weeks ago.

“Just this week, we were asked to help assemble masks. We told them we would be more than happy to help.”

Herta said the IMSA team started off with 1,500 masks a week but could increase that to 3,000 to 4,000 a week if needed.

“We’re still working through all of that,” Herta said. “We are working with crews of 6-8 people to keep the numbers small for social distancing.”

Herta is one of the many in racing that are doing their part in the battle against COVID-19. It helps take his mind off the long, seemingly endless days that remained unknown before racing can return to action.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500