Return to IndyCar: Q&A With Martin

Posted on: February 21st, 2014 by Martin Plowman
Martin Plowman and teammate Takuma Sato

Martin Plowman and teammate Takuma Sato

Fresh on the heels of his first IndyCar test in over two years, Martin Plowman was eager to chat about his return to IndyCar, this time with A.J. Foyt Racing for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500. Plowman tested with Foyt team in the ABC Supply Co. Honda IndyCar at Sebring International Raceway’s 1.67 mile “short circuit” on Wednesday. He and the team got straight to work, getting Plowman up to speed and checking items off of their list. It was the first time Plowman met A.J. Foyt, who had traveled in from Texas to watch the Indianapolis 500 rookie test. Plowman spent the past two years in sports cars, racing in the American Le Mans Series in 2012 in the P2 category and racing in the World Endurance Championship in 2013, winning the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP2 category and clenching the LMP2 Championship.

Plowman will test again with A.J. Foyt Racing on April 30th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway He will drive the Al-Fe Heat Treating Honda in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10th and the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda in the Indianapolis 500 on May 25th.

We opened the questioning to you, the fan, to chat about the Indy 500, Martin’s Sebring test, and his 2014 plans. Have more questions? Tweet him @Plowey or ask on his Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/TeamPlowey

How did the test go?

I thought that the test went very well. It only took me a few laps to get comfortable and back up to speed in these cars.  Obviously there are still things that I will continue to work and there are still a lot of things that I need to learn. Standing starts using a paddle clutch will be something new. It’s not easy to master, so I’ll need to make the most of the practice time that I will have at the open test.

We got straight into a pretty solid test program and I was able to help the team cross off some big items from their test list. Some changes were good and others served to confirm that what we were already running was the right direction.

What was it like to be back in an IndyCar?

It was nice to feel the extra 150HP kick my head back. I was used to strong carbon brakes from the LMP2 car, but with the IndyCar being lighter it pulls a lot more G-force under deceleration. I think my neck stretched out a few inches!

How does the new DW12 IndyCar compare to the last spec IndyCar?

The DW12 is a lot more responsive than the old car. The carbon brakes are a big improvement of course! The steering weight and the kick back you get from the wheel is heavier than it used to be, so I had to get used to that during the test.

How did the LMP2 car compare to the IndyCar?

The LMP2 is quite an impressive car by itself, so the IndyCar was not an overwhelming upgrade in performance. Braking performance of both cars is comparable, but the IndyCar has a lot more power and runs on much softer tires. The IndyCar is the only top series that I know of that doesn’t have power steering and believe me, you definitely feel it! I cringe and laugh when I hear people say that drivers aren’t athletes, because the steering weight of an IndyCar under load in a 2-3G corner is comparable to holding a 30lb dumb bell straight out from your body. Multiply that by 10 corners per lap for 80 laps and you’ll see that all of these drivers are top-level athletes!

What was it like meeting AJ for the first time?

AJ’s such a cool guy; he was very outgoing and easy to talk to. There’s no one out there who has more racing experience than he does. We had a fun conversation trading stories about racing at Le Mans at 2 in the morning. He had some pretty hilarious stories about his experience there!

How was the fan response from the announcement?

The response was really positive. I had a lot of people message me on Facebook & Twitter. It’s really cool to have the support of so many people heading into my first month of May at Indy. Hopefully I will make you all proud!

Do you get an oval test, and will you go through the Rookie Orientation Program (ROP)?

I hope to get a few laps at Texas to feel the car on an oval before heading to practice for the 500. I’ll definitely go through ROP in order to be eligible  for the race.

Is there any possibility of you doing any other races?

I’ve got lots of irons in the fire right now in talks with teams from all kinds of racing. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to defend my 24 Hours of Le Mans title and maybe do a few more IndyCar or sportscar races! Motorsports in general is in a tough economy right now so there are not too many funded rides out there.

Does your variety of driving in different race series give you an advantage or disadvantage?

Racing in different series broadens my experience level and allows me to apply that knowledge to whatever car that I jump in. The way that I see racing is that every car has four wheels and an engine, so the same logic applies to all cars. You just have to adapt to that car’s nuances and limitations to get the most out of it. It’s my job to understand what that car needs in order to go fast and apply it. It’s made me a quick learner! I’m definitely at a disadvantage to those who have spent the past 2-3 years with the DW12, in that they know the car inside and out, but the experience I’ve gained and my quick learning style will help me even out the playing field.

What are you most looking forward to about May?

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the people who have supported me through the years. So many people have been following my career since the beginning of this dream, and when they congratulate me, I see such excitement in their eyes that they have watched me get to this point in my career. I’m truly humbled by their support and can’t wait to get on the track and make them proud. Getting to experience driving on the speedway in an IndyCar for the first time.

What does it mean to you to race in the Indianapolis 500? What would it mean to you to win?

It will be the fulfillment of a lifelong journey since I was a kid. I’ve worked my entire life to be able to race in the Indianapolis 500 and I can hardly believe I’ll get my chance this year. But just to race in it isn’t enough. When a 6-year old dreams about Indy, they don’t merely dream about taking the green flag; they dream about taking the checkered, drinking the milk, and seeing their face on the Borg Warner. It would be unbelievable to follow in the footsteps of some of my racing idols and leave my mark on racing history.

2 Responses

Becky and Jim Tinkham says:

Nice interview!! Hope to see your reaces!! Best of luck!! We would love to see you drink that milk!!

Joe Gossett says:

I am so excited for you,and so proud of you. I am looking forward to all your races. Still wearing my “Plowey” hats & shirts!

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