Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Tim Kuschel, of Homewood, Ill., started his professional racing career not in a junior formula series but rather in the premier open wheel series in North America! Kuschel's first professional job is his current job with AJ Foyt Racing as an assistant to shock engineer Warren Wilson. With a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois in Chicago, the 27-year-old Indianapolis resident is now in his second year with the team. We asked him a few questions...
Q: What sparked your interest in racing and how did you get your start?
TK: "I have always had an interest in cars, racing, and all sports since I was little. My mom tells me my first real word was "car", my first time getting pulled over for speeding was during my drivers ed course, and I got my first project car not long after getting my license. I got my professional racing start through my meeting Warren, the Foyt shock guru, where he put in a good word for me to help him out here at Foyt."
A young "Jeff Gordon" aka Tim Kuschel at age 7.
Q: When did you start working professionally in racing?
TK: "My first introduction to any organized racing was at the racing program at my university, where I led the formula-style racing team there. It was through that program I met some IndyCar team members that introduced me to Warren. Then I started working for Foyt just last year in January of 2021."
Q: Which series have you worked in and in what capacity?
TK: "I have only worked in IndyCar, the last 2 seasons here at Foyt. Helping build shocks for Bourdais, Kellett, Kirkwood, Calderon, Hildebrand, Kimball, and also Stefan Wilson for this past Indy 500."
Q: What are your responsibilities with the AJ Foyt Racing team?
TK: "My responsibilities are to help build and manage anything damper or spring related for all of the Foyt cars. I also change the inside front tire during pit stops for the No. 4 car."
Kuschel changes the inside front tire on Dalton Kellett's car this season. He is changing the right front tire in St. Petersburg.
Q: What is your career goal? Professionally, where would you like to be in 10 years
TK: "Being new in racing I think I am still figuring that out, but for the time being, my goals are to learn as much as I can and keep working."
Q: What is your favorite track and why?
TK: "My favorite track so far is probably Long Beach. It's pretty hard to be in a bad mood in that city and atmosphere."
Q: Most memorable moment of your career thus far?
TK: "The most memorable race is probably the intermittent rain race at the Indy Road Course this past May. Lots of pit stops and chaos on track."
Q: Greatest challenge you’ve faced?
TK: "The biggest challenge so far was probably grinding through my degree while working a job and working on the university race team. My home, job, and university were all intertwined in and around different sides of Chicago so commuting between the three within the same days was a huge ball of fun."
Kuschel at recruitment presentation for the university team.
Q: What interests do you have outside of racing?
TK: "Outside of racing I like to play music, cook/bake, ride motorcycles, work with film photography, and travel."
Kuschel on a motorcycle camping trip with a buddy (who took the picture).
Q: What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
TK: "I have already checked off most of the cool ones like bungee jumping, skydiving, motorcycle trips,
and backcountry camping. But I'm planning some scuba diving and some international trips in the future."
Q: If you didn’t work in racing, what would you be doing?
TK: "When I was offered the position at Foyt, I was discussing a position as a design engineer for a well-known grill company. It is up for debate which position has better smells."
Q: What is your favorite saying?
TK: "The situation is fluid."
Kuschel (in uniform) chats with his university team during a test session.
Q: What is the best advice your mother (or father) ever gave you?
TK: "The first thing that comes to mind is when I was younger, I made a comment to my grandfather that it would suck to try out for a team and only make the B-team. And his reply was that you don’t care about which team you’re on, you play because you love the game. That was something that always stuck in my mind."
Tatiana Calderón 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."
Racing at Mid-Ohio this weekend 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. "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 Fast Facts: Age 29...Born in Bogota, Colombia and now living in Miami...Began racing karts at age 9 and has competed in Formula 2, Renault Series Formula V8 3.5 (first female on podium in Bahrein-2017), GP3, European Formula 3, British Formula 3 Series (first female on podium)...Test driver for the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team for past four years...Enjoys tennis, water skiing and drinking coffee.
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. The No. 14 entry will run the entire season as it is not solely dependent on the ROKiT funding."
Dalton Kellett is flying to Columbus, Ohio from his hometown of Toronto where he was doing a media advance this week for the Honda Indy Toronto scheduled for July 17th which marks the return of the NTT INDYCAR Series to Canada for the first time since 2019.
"Mid-Ohio is definitely one of the more exciting tracks that we go to every year," said Kellett. "It's got a
great flow to it. It's definitely my type of road course. It's kind of the opposite of Road America where there you've got long straightaways and you've got groups of a couple of corners separated by really long straightaways. Mid- Ohio, the whole thing kind of flows together, which I've always really enjoyed tracks like that. It's super physical, really. It's always one of the tough races with the heat of the summer. So definitely we've been training hard to get ready for this one, and I can't wait to hit the ground running with the K-Line No. 4 Chevy."
Kellett Fast Facts: Age 28…Born in Toronto, Canada and lives in Indianapolis…Became engaged to Nicole Westra and they plan to wed on New Year's Eve...Graduated from Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics…Brand spokesman for Ten80 Education’s National STEM League…Enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, playing guitar, cooking and golf. For the technically curious, Kellett posts TikTok videos (@dalton_kellett) about the race car labeled "Indy Mondays" with subjects ranging from the steering wheel to the weight jacker to cold tires.
Kyle Kirkwood spent last weekend competing in the IMSA WeatherTech Series at Watkins Glen International. He teamed up with Ben Barnicoat to drive the Vasser-Sullivan No. 14 Lexus in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. They finished fifth in class. At Mid-Ohio, Kirkwood has enjoyed much success when he has competed there in the junior formulas. In the Indy Lights Series last year, he won three races in four starts.
"Mid-Ohio is a track that I love and cherish, I almost consider it my home track," said Kirkwood. "It's a place that I've always had the most success at, given a season. It's my favorite track to go to. And I think it's a place where the team has done well at in the past, and we now have a couple week break prior to it. So it'll be nice to kind of relax and recuperate and get ready for that weekend. I'm not sure what I love about the track, but it's just suited me, it's very high speed. There's tons of elevation. It kind of reminds me of a karting track a little bit tighter, but a bit high speed, high downforce, high grip. I'm not sure why it suits me, but I really like it."
Kirkwood Fast Facts: Age 23...Born in West Palm Beach, and lives in Jupiter, Florida... Only driver to win championships in all three divisions of the Road to Indy ladder system...Began racing karts at age 5...Won the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 title (12 wins in 14 races) and won 15 of 17 races to claim the F3 Americas Championship...Won the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with nine victories and five poles in 16 races (RP Motorsports)...Won the 2021 Indy Lights championship with 10 victories and seven poles in 20 races (the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic). Enjoys surfing, deep-sea fishing, diving and golf.
Past Performance: Dalton Kellett has run three INDYCAR races at Mid-Ohio with a best start of 20th and a best finish of 21st in 2020. Tatiana Calderón and Kyle Kirkwood will be making their first starts in an Indy car there. In the Indy Lights Series, Kirkwood ran four races in 2021 and won three of them, two of which he started on the pole. The Foyt team’s best start is 7th and best finish is 4th -- both with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2009. In the CART Series (1987-1995), the team’s best start was 12th (1988-A.J. Foyt, 53) and best finish was 2nd (1993-Robby Gordon, 24).
Last Race: At Road America, the Foyt team struggled. Kirkwood started 24th and finished 20th, Kellett started and finished 23rd, and Calderón started and finished 25th.
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the All-New 2023 Civic Type R will be broadcast live Sunday, July 3rd on NBC starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. It will be streamed live on Peacock Premium, which will also stream qualifying on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. and the practices on Friday (3:30pm), Saturday (9:30 a.m.) and Sunday (9:45 a.m.). The INDYCAR Radio Network will also air the race.