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Mazda Road to Indy

Colton Herta Entering Indy Lights with Confidence

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It would be difficult to find another 17-year-old better qualified for the Mazda Road to Indy than Colton Herta. After all, there are no other competitors starting in Indy Lights in 2017 whose father’s cars have won the fabled Indy 500 twice. But his qualifications only begin with being Bryan Herta’s son. This is a young man who left a comfortable suburban existence in Southern California at the age of 14 to move by himself to England to transition from driving karts to driving race cars.

“It went pretty smoothly because of the people I had around me and the amount of racing I got to do,” said Herta in a recent interview. “I did almost 50 races that year. The raw speed stands out in my memory as something that took some getting used to. Everything happens a lot quicker, so you need to get used to that to get it to slow down. When you make a transition like that, you notice things like your head flying against the headrest and you’re all tensed up. When you get over that, things smooth out.”

It seems obvious that Bryan Herta’s successful racing career inspired Colton to race.

As he tells it, “I suppose I wanted to race because my dad did, and I was around it my whole life which amplified that. I started racing dirt bikes before I was 4 years old then raced karts from age 5 to 12. I’m not sure when it really got serious: it started with club racing, then some national championships then international racing. It just clicked. I really enjoyed working with the mechanics and working on the kart. I loved to see the progress.”

So, what does Colton Herta expect for the 2017 Indy Lights series?

“I don’t really have too many expectations. I just want to see how it goes. We have a good car so I know we’ll be quick in preseason testing. It’s just a matter of putting it all together and not making too many rookie mistakes. I think two years in the series is reasonable. Hopefully I can do well, win a championship, and move up to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Testing has been smooth – I’ve already tested on an oval, which was pretty cool. It was at Gateway, which is a track we’ll race on and I had a great time.” 

It sounds as if 2017 will be a banner year for this Mazda Road to Indy program. The Indy Lights series debuts this year at St. Petersburg with Race One on March 11th.

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Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.