Tatiana Calderon is back in her No. 11 Dallara-Chevrolet for this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. However, the remainder of the season for her isn’t looking as bright as it once did.
There’s been rumors this year that her sponsor hasn’t been up to date with payments. Luckily nothing ever came to fruition. Well, ROKiT nearly missed a payment for this weekend’s race would have parked the 11 car as a result. Luckily enough, that was resolved in due time to allow the team to travel east to Ohio this week. Past this weekend though?
That’s where it becomes interesting.
The team had some wording in their notes section of the pre-race preview saying that the future of the No. 11 Chevrolet beyond this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio is not guaranteed due to funding issues with primary sponsor ROKiT which Team President Larry Foyt is trying to resolve.
“We are trying to work through a difficult situation as I know ROKiT wishes to continue the program but there are some issues which may prevent that. We will continue to either resolve it with ROKiT or try to find alternate funding which is difficult at best at this point in the season,” Foyt said in the statement on the team release.
That would be a shame to see this car go since Calderon is starting to find her stride as a NTT INDYCAR Series driver. Also the fact that JR Hildebrand did extremely well in his oval opportunities in it so far too leaves us to wonder if someone could hop in even if the sponsor flakes.
Benjamin Pedersen is on the teams’ radar and had a solid test at Portland on Monday with Juncos Hollinger Racing. Could he slide into the entry at some point?
Never say never though as the team and sponsor have a couple weeks after Mid-Ohio before returning to action at Toronto on July 17. That buys them, Calderon, ROKiT and if they need a new driver time to find funding and resources to race.
They also said in that same statement that Kyle Kirkwood’s ride isn’t in question as the No. 14 entry will run the entire season as it is not solely dependent on the ROKiT funding. So will Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 Dallara-Chevrolet. It’s just this 3rd car that’s in question.
For this weekend though, racing at Mid-Ohio will give Calderón her first chance to race on a track that she has actually tested on before the race weekend–her test came last year following the Mid-Ohio race.
“Mid-Ohio was where I first tested the car with the team,” the young rookie said via the team release. “So at least I know a little bit about the track and the feeling with this car. It’s the first time I am going to a circuit that I know, that I had a feeling for before (the race weekend). I think we had a good test. And a good race car there, so hopefully we can straight away from free practice 1 start closer to the pace. And yes we will just keep working. The physical side there is tougher, it’s a small track so that’s going to be a nice test (laughing). And yes, I’m looking forward to it.”
Calderón stayed busy on the downtime between Road America and Mid-Ohio as she participated in her first Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England last weekend. She drove the 1957 Kuzma Offenhauser in which Jimmy Bryan won the national championship. When Bryan switched teams in 1958, A.J. Foyt was hired to drive and made his first start in the car at the Indy 500.
“It has been a privilege to be driving the 1957 Kuzma Offenhauser car at Goodwood and to learn that it was the car where A.J. did his debut in Indy,” said Calderón. “Also to contrast it a little bit with today’s Indy cars and see how much change we’ve seen in Indy cars. It’s incredible that they went on the banking at over 160 miles an hour back then in ’57 and to drive the car that won the Race of the Two Worlds in ‘Monzanapolis,’ it was a big privilege. The cars back then were much simpler in a way. No buttons on the steering wheel just the fuel, the ignition and you basically still go with the starter. Huge steering wheel, just the water and oil on the on dashboard, it’s incredible to think that they were going 160 miles an hour in those cars with no mirrors and barely any protection! It’s been an incredible experience. I’m super honored and thankful to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum as well for giving me that chance and to be at Goodwood for the first time. It’s incredible to see so many legends, so many cars, bikes, and the passion of the people out there as well. So now back to modern IndyCar for the weekend.”