Jack Harvey of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian is one of four drivers in contention for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship title heading into the double-header series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 11-13. The champion is awarded a $1 million scholarship toward the Verizon IndyCar Series with three guaranteed races, including the historic 100th Indianapolis 500, in 2016.
PALMETTO, Fla. – After a sterling 2014 rookie campaign that saw him finish tied on points with eventual champion Gabby Chaves, Jack Harvey returned to the series this year with one goal in mind: win the championship and turn the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship into a drive in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series.
The early season favorite, Harvey has earned two victories (the Indy GP and the Freedom 100) and six additional podiums but cannot shake the rookie trio of Spencer Pigot (six points back), Ed Jones (18) and RC Enerson (36).
Harvey, 22, of Lincoln, England, began karting at the age of 9, working his way through the Junior British ranks and racking up no fewer than 10 British and European titles. Moving into formula cars in 2009, Harvey went on to win the 2012 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series title and earned two victories on the 2013 GP3 circuit before turning his attention stateside last season. Invited to join the British Racing Drivers Club’s “Rising Star” initiative in 2009, Harvey remembers the moments that led him to become a race car driver.
“There a few moments, really,” said Harvey. “It was always going to be my hobby but in 2006 I won the British Kartmasters Grand Prix and then was the youngest-ever winner of the British JICA Super One series. I was 13 years old and pretty much at that moment I realized I had the ingredients to go further. I just needed the opportunity. That opportunity came in 2008/2009, when the Racing Steps Foundation picked me up. I felt I could be a professional driver, but then I had the opportunity and the backing to actually make it happen, and that was key. Those really stand out as the moments I fully committed myself.”
Harvey empathizes with Penske Racing’s Juan Pablo Montoya, who earlier this week lost the IndyCar title in a tie-breaker, just as Harvey lost the Indy Lights championship one year ago. He hopes to take that knowledge – and the experience gained last month behind the wheel of Schmidt Peterson teammate Ryan Briscoe’s Dallara Indy car – and take the title he missed out on last year.
“I expected the Indy car to feel very different from the Indy Lights car, but it didn’t,” noted Harvey. “You feel it when your body sinks into the seat; you think it’s going to happen too quickly. But it didn’t feel that way. The Mazda engine in the Indy Lights car coupled with the extra turbo, you do experience that feeling of your body being pushed back into the car. That was good preparation for the Indy car. I was able to jump into the Indy car and feel comfortable with the speed. Mazda has done a fantastic job of giving us an engine that will help us take that next step. And Dallara delivered a great car. It’s much closer in style to the Indy car than the old car was.
“I’m very excited about Mazda Raceway; I’ve always wanted to race there. It will be a great finale for the entire Mazda Road to Indy. But I’ve been in this situation before, where I knew I had to win the last race to win the title. Last year, I had two poles and two wins in the last race weekend of the year so I feel very confident in what I can achieve as a driver and I’ve got massive belief in my team. We were the fastest at Mid-Ohio. I’m excited to get back in the car – I love this time of year. It’s just down to me and my team to get the job done. Winning the championship would definitely help our cause progressing forward into IndyCar.”
Once the season is over, Harvey can devote a bit more time to his other sporting endeavor, which actually helps him in a race car.
“Clay pigeon shooting is my other passion, but that really gets pushed to the side once race season starts. I went with my dad, enjoyed it and was quite good at it. I picked up on all these subtle bits that actually were helpful toward racing, though that’s not why I got into it. But it does keep me sharp in the off-season – you have to be quick, have good hand-eye coordination, understand what you’re doing wrong and be flexible. It’s like racing; if you get too serious, that can get on top of you. In shooting, if you don’t relax, if you go rigid or closed-minded, it doesn’t work. The principles that help me be good at that – stay relaxed, be confident, make the right decision and commit to it – cross over to racing and vice versa. I’m lucky that both of my sports overlap!”
Additional background information on Harvey as well as a full schedule for the season finale weekend can be found at www.indylights.com