It’s difficult to walk through the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda paddock without bumping into a team owner, engineer, mechanic or coach who hasn’t participated in an Indianapolis 500 at one point in their careers. Team principles like Jay Howard and Dr. Jack Miller and former F4 driving coaches like Scott Harrington, Raphael Matos and Gabby Chaves combined have a dozen Indy 500 starts.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” said SCCA Pro Racing Vice President Steve Oseth. “It’s very gratifying to see so many experienced owners, engineers and coaches in our series who are preparing our drivers for the next level in motorsports.”
For the entire month of May, Howard, who will start in his third Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, invited members of his Jay Howard Driver Development team to tag along to media events, practices and sponsor meetings for the ultimate teaching moment.
“Attending the practices was a great experience,” said JHDD rookie Christian Rasmussen. “It was cool to watch how the guys from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports work together to prepare for such a big event.”
Rasmussen and his JHDD teammate Teddy Wilson also hosted patrons at the annual Indianapolis Rev at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this month. The F4 U.S. drivers mingled with top IndyCar drivers and racing legends, while also serving as personal guides to guests, escorting them to experience a behind-the-scenes look at the Yard of Bricks and the IMS Museum.
“Being part of the build up to the Indy 500 has been an unforgettable experience,” said Wilson. “It has given me the understanding of what it takes to be part of such an amazing event from a driver’s perspective. The drivers do so much more than just show up for race day, it’s a whole month of media appearances, dinners, hosting sponsors, charity events and on-track activities that they all participate in. It can be extremely exhausting but rewarding all at the same time.”
Some of the JHDD crew also plan to attend the greatest spectacle in racing to watch their F4 U.S. team owner compete.
“I am very excited about watching my close friend and mentor Jay Howard in this year’s Indy 500,” said Braden Eves, JHDD F4 U.S. sophomore. “Jay says that it is important for us to know how to communicate with our engineers. During the race, I get to listen to Jay’s feedback and communication on how the car is performing, to get a better understanding of just how much detailed information a driver needs to give the team in order to be fast, which is an incredibly unique experience.”
Howard is slated to start the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in Row 10 behind the wheel of the No. 7 One Cure Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda car on Sunday.
“There is nothing more I would love to see than to have my drivers make it to IndyCar, that’s what my program is all about,” explained Howard. “There’s no place better than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to have an up and coming driver experience up close what is potentially ahead of them if they keep up the hard work and dedication. This month I have introduced my team to people in the industry that may hire them one day. I will do anything to help them, drive them, push them to fulfill their dreams and to keep fueling the fire of passion to be an IndyCar driver someday.”
Starting on Friday during Carb Day, the No. 5 CSU One Cure Lucas Oil Jay Howard DD F4 U.S. car will be on display in the Honda Fan Zone located in the Fan Midway inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We chose Jay Howard’s DD F4 car because of his tie-in to karting, his young F4 team, which I believe all come from that karting discipline, and his dream of racing in the Indy 500,” Honda Performance Development Commercial Motorsports manager Jeff Barrow said. “His ownership of an F4 team is surely an inspiration for his young team of drivers.”
Spectators attending race weekend can take pictures by the car on Friday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and on race day starting at 6 a.m.