The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is such an historic event. What has the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway meant to you? What are some of your favorite memories over the years?
The Indianapolis 500 is the single race that inspired me to become a race car driver, specifically an IndyCar driver. I have so many great memories of being at IMS, and the Indy 500, but qualifying for your first race is always a huge memory, as well as winning the Pole Position in 2013 and 2014. Hopefully I will have a win to remember it by soon!
Can you describe for us non-race car drivers what it’s like to travel at speeds over 200 miles per hour?
Indianapolis is the fastest track that we race on, and that sense of speed never gets old. It is such an exciting feeling to run laps at over 230mph. When we qualified on the pole in 2014, my 4 laps averaged over 231 mph, and we had a top speed of 238 mph. The best way that I can describe it is that it is fun, yet at the same time feels normal. That’s what makes us IndyCar drivers crazy.
Having grown up in a racing family, what do you think being involved in this sport taught you as a young person?
I think that growing up in the sport, and understanding all of the challenges that are involved from all aspects of the event, from participant to promotion just gives me a deep appreciation for just how blessed I am to still be competing in this spectacular event.
What advice would you give parents who have kids who really want to race?
I would tell them that it is an extremely fun sport, yet an extremely challenging sport to make it to the top levels. If you are looking to get started, Karting is the best thing that you can do. New Castle Motorsports Park is the place to go if you are looking to get started. For me to let my kids start, I want to make sure that they have a true passion for the sport, and are willing to commit a lot of time, and be persistent to be great.
What are your thoughts about your own children pursuing the sport?
I will be supportive if any of my kids want to drive, but I do want to be patient with them and make sure that it is something that they really want to do. Our 6-year-old son Ryder would really like to race, but I am going to make him wait a few more years to see if he still wants to do it. I think having a little more maturity is important, because I want them to take it seriously if we are going to do that as a family. After competing for so long, if we do it I want to make sure we do it right. Racing can be a very challenging and volatile sport, so I don’t want them to enter into racing and just automatically think that they will be able to do it for a career. I want them to have to work to get started, and know that they will have to work hard to be great.
As the owner of Ed Carpenter Racing, I imagine you must travel quite a bit. How do you manage to keep a balance between work and home life?
This is something that has gotten harder as our business has grown, and our kids have grown. When all the kids were young, we basically traveled as a family all of the time. Now that the kids are getting older, and are involved in their own sports and social schedule, we have to have a little more planning to how we travel. Heather and the kids still travel to most of the races, but now it isn’t a given as it used to be. Traveling is something that we have really enjoyed though, it has given us a chance to show the kids so many experiences that they would not have gotten if we didn’t have the schedule that we do.
There are so many great activities that revolve around the 500 – Carb Day, Practice Days, the Parade – what does your family enjoy doing most?
That is a question for the kids probably, but I think Makenna really enjoys the parade, but that probably isn’t the boys’ favorite. The boys I think just like being out at the track, watching practice, hanging out in the garage area and being part of the team.
We wish Ed the best of luck in this year’s Indianapolis 500!