‘You can slow a fast driver down, but you can’t speed a slow one up’
Indy Car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay made an appearance today (Mar. 9) in the Lakewood Auditorium to talk to students about the Grand Prix coming up this weekend and what it takes to get into racing.
Lakewood High School was specially picked to have this meeting by Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Hunter-Reay, who was born and currently lives in Ft. Lauderdale, has been racing since he was 16 when he started competing in go-karts.
"I started using my friend's go-kart and ran through the neighbor's yard and would piss them off," Hunter-Reay said.
Go-karts took Hunter-Reay far, all the way to Indy Car driving. As an Indy Car driver, there's a lot to keep up with to make sure you have a good race.
"You have to be successful on and off the track," Hunter-Reay said.
Hunter-Reay has to get weighed three times a weekend. He has to stay light to keep the gravity in the car centered because with the Indy Cars being small and lightweight, too much weight in the car wouldn't help as the driver turns corners.
"You can't breathe in the corner, so you have to hold your breath," Hunter-Reay said.
Kriseman to students about his experience being in an Indy Car.
"When we hit that first corner, I couldn't breathe," Kriseman said. "Have you ever seen that commercial with Mario Andretti and the guy in the second seat of the race car, where from Mario's point of view, it's going slow and the other guy is going really fast? That's how it feels."
Hunter-Reay races a 1,500 pound, 700-horsepower Honda Indy Car that goes to the speed of 230 miles per hour.
There are 12 members on the team and three engineers. In order to start the car, all engineers need to be on site.
"I love this industry and everything it represents," Hunter-Reay said.
Hunter-Reay didn't plan on being an Indy Car driver. He went to the University of Central Florida for engineering - a career path many of Lakewood's Center for Advanced Technologies students follow.
He gave the students advice for being successful, including the importance of being persistent, telling them that he didn't always have sponsors to help him start racing.
"I went to everyone I knew and (asked) them if they needed help working on their cars," Hunter-Reay said. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."