Indianapolis 8 Hour offers a fun challenge in Briscoe
It’s a return to familiar turf for Ryan Briscoe with this weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hours presented by AWS.
Briscoe, who scored eight wins in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career (2005-15), will make his second appearance in the Endurance Classic at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, teaming up with Jarett Andretti and Jeff Westphal to co-drive the Ferrari 488 GT3 No. 218. in the Pro category as part of a one-time partnership between Vital Speed and Andretti Autosport.
“It’s a fun and unique race to do,” Briscoe said. “It’s special to do it with Vital Speed. It’s a very small team, a family group. They have the experience of the Ferrari Challenge. I’ve worked with them coaching in the past, a very good small group of guys. The Indy 8 Hour that we did three years ago (in 2020) was their first big race that they had done – the first race with pit stops, something like that. the second race they have ever done with pit stops.
The team tested a few weeks ago at Sonoma Raceway, and Briscoe’s co-driver Andretti just won the LMP3 class last weekend in the Petit Le Mans race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“I think it’s just great that they’ve teamed up with Jarett Andretti and his group at Andretti Autosport,” Briscoe said. “I think it gives everyone a huge opportunity to come out and do well this weekend. Were excited. For me, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity for everyone involved to come out and to mingle with a lot of regulars who run this championship all the time. Hopefully we can race competitively and get a good result.
The Australian-American has long been a fixture in sports car racing, even while competing in the INDYCAR SERIES. Briscoe’s resume is filled with numerous class wins and an overall victory in the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona – the crown jewel of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In June, he helped lead Glickenhaus Racing to third place overall at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Overall, I think with the experience I’ve had in both, it just helps you to be a complete driver and understand all the possibilities that are available to you and the different teams that you have to play with. work and teammates,” Briscoe said. “I would say one of the biggest things with sports car racing that is very different from Indy car racing is that you share your race car with teammates. It’s not like having a teammate in an INDYCAR team. You literally share your seat, your comfort, the configuration of your car, everything. So you have to work very closely and friendly with your teammates. There are going to be compromises here and there, and you have to strive to creating the best all-around package with your teammates, I think that’s something you learn with experience.
Another big difference between sports car racing and INDYCAR SERIES racing is the wait, Briscoe said.
“Also, the hardest thing about sports car racing, you spend a lot of time on the clock watching your teammates drive,” Briscoe said. “You’re not always in the car either. So there’s a lot of confidence in what they do and in the feedback they give at different times. It’s funny. This is, I think, one of the challenges and fun parts of sports car racing. It’s just different, and that’s just part of it.
Over the years, 2012 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Briscoe has maintained a presence around the INDYCAR paddock, most recently as a driver coach for AJ Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett.
In many ways, there remains a curiosity factor for a reunion with Briscoe behind the wheel of an INDYCAR SERIES car. Now, at 41, he watches 47-year-old Helio Castroneves, who returned to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year as a full-time driver after four partial seasons that primarily included the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
“Well, I definitely feel young and fit,” said Briscoe, who is no stranger to marathons. “I keep in shape. I think the great thing with Helio is…it’s inspiring for someone because it’s just awesome what he’s done at this point in his career. He’s a great friend of mine, and I love seeing him have so much success at this late stage in his career. It’s fun to see that happen too. And (Scott) Dixon and (Will) Power in the championship and those guys, because I guess that keeps me, potentially, irrelevant because of my age, because all those guys are obviously doing well at my age or older than me.
“So excluding someone because they are 40 or 41 is not a valid reason, because you can see that as long as you take care of yourself, we are all as good as anyone, even some of these young guys. in their twenties and thirties.
Briscoe’s final full-time North American sports car season was in 2020 in IMSA, teaming with Renger van der Zende in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi prototype. They finished just one point behind Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 DPi-ranked Penske Acura team.
Working with Kellett in the INDYCAR SERIES paddock in 2022 has kindled the open wheel flame a bit for Briscoe. Although he said he was open to any opportunity that might arise, especially a one-off ride at the Indy 500, he is not aggressively seeking an NTT INDYCAR SERIES seat.
“I love INDYCAR racing,” Briscoe said. “I love the circuit; I love the championship and everything that goes with it. And I also really enjoyed my sports car races. You’re just getting to a point where you’re entering a new year where you have to make a decision about which path you’re going to take. Is it going to be sports cars or Indy cars? And it really depends on the opportunities you have in front of you.