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Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Warren Wilson has worked with AJ Foyt Racing since 2017 in the team's Speedway, Indiana race shop and was previously profiled as our shock specialist. Heading to Barber Motorsports Park, which is a beautifully landscaped, purpose-built motorcycle track modified to host the Indy cars, we selected Wilson again because he restores vintage motorcycles and races them in the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association. His best finish of second came at Barber in 2020 in the vintage superbike heavyweight division--in the rain! We asked him a few questions...

Q: How did your passion for motorcycles come about?

WW: "As a kid, I was interested in building homemade go-karts and then when I was old enough to get a license at 16, I got my first motorcycle. When I left Michigan when I was in my early 20s, I moved to Ohio to start a motorcycle shop with a friend of mine. Before that, I was building motorcycles and went to Daytona for Bike Week with a friend. They were doing a horsepower competition and we entered our bikes. I placed 2nd in the unlimited and he won in a lower class which was pretty cool for our homemade bikes. So at one of those Daytona trips, we decided to open a motorcycle shop and that's when I moved to Ohio. I also got married then so Michelle and I ran the motorcycle shop. I didn't do a lot of racing but we worked on a lot of custom motorcycles and did performance work right before I got into IndyCar racing in the '90s."

Michelle and Warren Wilson "goofing it up" for the camera in front of their racing banner at a race meet.

Q: When did you start racing bikes?

WW: "A friend sold me a vintage AMA Superbike from the early '80s that had been in storage for a very long time. Then I started doing my own road racing. I'd worked on bikes but hadn't raced them. I did a school about five years ago and I've been racing for 3 or 4 seasons now.

Q: When did you first go to Barber Motorsports Park?

WW: "My first trip to Barber was in 2010 with the IndyCar Series. I remember thinking this is the nicest facility we have ever raced at. It was some years later that I started going to the vintage motorcycle festival in October. I started racing myself there maybe 4 years ago. By the way, Sebastian Bourdais held the track record there for many years with dampers built by me." Note: It occurred when Wilson and Bourdais were with KV Racing in 2015.

Wilson on bike W13 leads this pack en route to his runner-up finish at Barber Motorsport Park in 2020.

Q: Was your first time around the track on a motorcycle or while working in INDYCAR?

WW: "I watched a bunch of videos from our in-car cameras, but my first real lap was on a motorcycle in 2019."

Q: What were your thoughts when you saw it from your bike?

WW: "AWESOME! This track goes up and down, it's not just curves."

Q: Are the passing zones the same for the bikes as they are for the Indy cars or are there more because the bikes are smaller?

WW: "For sure there is more passing room on the bikes."

Q: What is the coolest section of the track for you? What is the scariest section – or the one you have to be really on your toes for?

WW: "I like the museum corner, Turns 7, 7 a-b, and 8 because it is down, through and out and up. This combination is the first and only place that feels comfortable going over the curbing.

The most intimidating section for me is in Turns 13-14 which are kind of blind, up over a rise, and FAST. There is certainly opportunity to get better there! Barber is also the first really wet race for me. It was fun but I learned the curbs are really slippery when wet."

Wilson at speed at Barber in his first ever race in the rain.

Q: Did you notice the outdoor sculptures while you’re on track? Do you have a favorite?

WW: "The sculptures at Barber are really neat, however the only one I notice on track is under the bridge near turn 7. I am not sure what it is but it is creepy."

Q: What top speeds did you reach at Barber?

WW: "I am not sure, I don’t run with a speedometer or have fancy electronics like we do in INDYCAR."

Q: Where did you finish in 2021? When will you race there in 2022?

WW: "I will race there October 6-9. In 2021, I finished 6th in the Vintage Superbike Heavyweight and 3rd In the Phillips Island Challenge."

Q: What prompted you to do the bike school and eventually race bikes?

WW: "I really wanted to try being a passenger on a racing sidecar. A friend gave me a ride on his BMW rig and I knew I wanted more. From there I needed to do a school to get my license. One thing led to another and I am now building my own racing sidecar with hopes to debut it later this summer. Thanks to friends we race with, Michelle already has more laps on a sidecar than me."

Q: How has your wife Michelle taken to racing motorcycles?

WW: "Michelle is Awesome; she has her racing license now and completed her first race on a solo bike earlier this year at Roebling Road in Georgia. " (pictured right)

Q: How is business at your Wilson13 Race Support bike shop in Indianapolis?

WW: "It keeps me busy when I am not at Foyt. One of my current projects is a 1973 Honda 750 four that my friend Bear Haughton brought to me to tune on the Dyno for him on his way out to Bonneville. He set two speed records with it last season and it is now time to make it go faster! He has this business supplying parts for vintage motorcycles called The Old Bike Barn. I got to know him because he had brought his vintage land speed motorcycle to my shop on the way out to Bonneville last year to do some world record attempts. We did some work and some tuning on it and he went to Bonneville and succeeded is setting some world records so that was pretty exciting. It is such a cool bike."

Bear Haughton with his bike that set Bonneville Salt Flats records--tuned by Wilson!

Q: Final question. Why did you choose the number 13 and color green?

WW: "Because it makes people ask questions (wink)."

TATIANA CALDERÓN scored her best finish to date with her 16th place showing in the No. 11 ROKiT Chevrolet after starting 26th at Long Beach. She was the second highest rookie finisher in the race.

"I’m really looking forward to Barber," said Calderón. "Although I have been there in Star Mazda, I have to say I had to watch a lot of onboards to remember the whole track, so it will be a new track to learn for me. The only thing I remember from Barber was that I had my first podium in Star Mazda there. It’s our first permanent track of the year so I’m excited to be able to explore the limit of the car a bit more freely than in the first two rounds-- it’s always tough to do that on a street circuit.

"I have spent the last couple of weeks training hard in Florida (good for heat training), as according to some of the drivers and engineers, Barber is one of the toughest tracks physically. I have done a bit more strength work ahead of this weekend and the different format of having only the race on Sunday (and no warmup) may help for that. I expect a big challenge regardless and for sure trying to catch up as quick as possible as most of the drivers or rookies have tested in Barber recently. My goal is still the same to start off where we left in Long Beach and keep improving every session."

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 podium)...Test driver for the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team for past four years...Enjoys tennis, water skiing and drinking coffee.

DALTON KELLETT will make his second start in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. The team did not test there this year.

"Can't wait to get on track at Barber," Kellett said. "Barber's always been one of the cool tracks on the

circuit--it's a well-maintained, well-put-together circuit. It's a fun track to drive and challenging physically. It can be hard to pass so we'll have to be working on that. Obviously qualifying is going to be super important so we'll be keeping that theme of focusing really aggressively on qualifying through the practice and getting ready for those qualifying runs to get a good start for the race. Looks like ticket sales are going great so looking forward to a busy weekend with all the INDYCAR fans there. The No. 4 K-Line Insulator crew will be ready."

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 is making his first start at Barber Motorsports Park driving the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. He raced there in 2021 in the Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires where he started third and finished ninth in his Series debut in Race 1. In Race 2, he started seventh and finished fifth.

"Looking forward to Barber, it's an awesome race," Kirkwood said. "I heard it's sold out and we're looking forward to getting back on a permanent road course. It's a track I'm familiar with and a track that the team's familiar with, and they've had pretty good races there in the past so hopefully that momentum continues and we'll have a good weekend."

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, moved to cars (F4) in 2016 and dominated the F4 U.S. Championship with nine victories and six poles in 20 races...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 2021 Indy Lights title (2020 season canceled due to pandemic) with 10 victories, seven poles in 20 races.

Past Performance at Barber Motorsports Park: Kellett made his first start at the 2.3-mile road course last year when he qualified 23rd and finished 18th. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is fourth in 2012 with Mike Conway and its best finish is fifth with Sebastien Bourdais in 2021.

Last Race: At the Long Beach Grand Prix, Kirkwood scored his first top-10 of the season after starting 12th in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet and was the highest finisher of the six rookies in the race. Second highest rookie finisher was Calderón in the No. 11 ROKiT Chevy with her 16th place finish. Kellett's race ended early after contact with the Turn 1 barrier on lap 5.

The race will be broadcast live by NBC on Sunday, May 1, at 1 p.m. ET. Qualifying (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET) and practice sessions (Friday, 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET and Sunday, 5:20 ET) will be streamed live on Peacock Premium as will the post-race show. The INDYCAR Radio Network covers all on track sessions (race, qualifying and practices) which will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 160, and the INDYCAR App.

Michelle and Warren's daughter Sasha became engaged to Peter Lygiros during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend!


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