AJ Foyt Racing’s Charlie Kimball in the No.11 Tresiba Chevrolet will make his first NTT IndyCar Series start of the 2021 season at this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as the Californian prepares for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge which takes place on Sunday 30th May.
In his last race for Foyt, the 2020 season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, Kimball finished the race in eighth place and looking ahead of the Indy race this weekend he was asked:
How excited are you to get back in the race car?
“I could not be more excited to trade in my headset for my helmet. It has been really hard to watch Indy cars race for four races and not be a part of it. This weekend, that’s changed!”
How have you prepped for these upcoming races?
“I have tried to stay in close contact with the team and watch how the races so far this year have developed, in the sense of the set up as well as the competition side.”
You won’t get much practice for the GP. Has the car undergone any significant changes in the road course configuration or will you be able to apply what you learned from last year?
My sense is the car is a solid positive evolution from last year at the Harvest GP. Sebastien’s 5th place at Barber was proof of that. We will continue to work forward this weekend as a team – although I may need a few laps to knock some light rust off!”
Aside from winning, what are you most looking forward to and why?
“A more ’normal’ month of May with the best fans in the world at the race track. Being at home for Memorial Day weekend last year was not right and then racing the Indy 500 without fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway made the facility feel soulless. Having fans back for the Harvest GP was the first step in the right direction and now May is back!”
You went to the first four INDYCAR races for a new job as a race analyst for Indy Lights (and at one session of INDYCAR?). How did the TV gig come about?
“I got a call from Kevin Lee and IMSP to gauge my interest and it was a great opportunity to see the sport from another angle. It also gets me to the INDYCAR / Indy Lights races in an official capacity that also allows me to help AJ Foyt Racing when I can!”
Was it your first time or have you done something similar in the past?
“I have done some pit lane reporting previously, but lending analysis from a broadcasting booth is a very different animal.”
You seem like a natural. Have you received a lot of feedback?
“I have had some great feedback – a lot of it from my family! Seriously, the response has been great even as I learn the ropes and hope to get better each and every time. I love racing and love to share that passion with fans watching Indy Lights looking for the next star in INDYCAR.”
Is this something you’d like to pursue once you retire as a driver?
“I am happy to be laying the groundwork for some time in the FAR distant future!”
What is the hardest thing about doing TV commentating?
The hardest thing is telling a story that gives an insight into what’s happening in the car or in the driver’s head in a very short discrete timeframe. Plus, all the voices in the headset from the producer, pit lane reporter and the play-by-play caller! Honestly, the team on the Indy Lights broadcasts have made it so easy on me: Kevin Lee, Katie Kiel, Kevin Buchholz (IMSP Producer), Courtney “CT” Terrell (IMSP Director), all the sound and camera crew are pros and make my piece look great.”
How much preparation do you have to do for it? Do you go to all of the teams and interview key personnel? When on-air, what are the things you need to be mindful of?
“I spent a lot of time at both Barber and St. Pete talking to teams and drivers because I didn’t have as much knowledge of who was who as I needed to. Also, keeping those conversations going helps me give some real firsthand knowledge on the broadcasts.
What surprised you the most after your first broadcast?
“How fast the race went by!!! After most races when I’m driving, I can remember a lot of details from the event; however, in the booth, I wasn’t sure what I said or how I did until I reviewed the tape and got feedback from the professionals!”
Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais in the No.14 ROKiT Chevrolet is looking forward to this weekend’s race saying:
“Very much looking forward to the Indy GP. Historically, it’s been a very good race for me. We were not so awesome last year in my return, but definitely a place that I very much enjoy, a track that I’ve been fast on before. We’ve done quite a bit of prep work so looking forward to seeing everybody back on track!
Dalton Kellett in the No.4 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet commented saying:
We’re heading into the GMR Grand Prix this weekend and I’m really excited to be back at Indy with AJ Foyt Racing, the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevy. It’s going to be a great weekend for us, really excited. Obviously, we’re coming off a tough weekend at Texas but the team bounced back – we’re actually racing the same car we raced in Race 2 in Texas, so hats off to the No. 4 and 14 crew mechanics who got those cars patched up and ready to go. We’re going to be hitting the track in road course trim and we’ll be coming your way for some exciting racing this Saturday then we’re right into Indy 500 practice next week so see you there.