Notes & Quotes: Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend at Iowa Speedway
Jeremy Hall joined AJ Foyt Racing in June last year to drive the team's engineering transporter which carries well over $1 million in racing equipment. A second-generation truck driver, Hall began his career in motorsports 23 years ago. We asked him a few questions...
What was first race you attended?
JH: "My first race I attended would have been Talladega when I was probably six years old. My dad was a NASCAR fan. I remember that being the first track that I ever went to. I was born in Indiana and when I was around one, my parents moved to Florida. When I was 13, we moved to Alabama, just outside the Birmingham area. I did most of my junior high and high school years in Alabama, but growing up, we moved a lot as a family with my dad taking different jobs and stuff. I had a lot of places that I could call home but I call Alabama home because I lived there for quite a while and I liked it the most. When I was in high school there, I took vocational classes -- mechanical classes and body shop classes."
Your dad was interested in racing, did he work in racing?
JH: "He never worked for a race team. When I was very young, he started a machine shop with another gentleman in Florida. They built racing engines and then he eventually sold his half to his friend and my dad got out of it all together. He started driving trucks and he owned his own trucks."
Jeremy's father Scott Hall was a great influence in his son's life. He passed away two years ago but he did get to ride with his son to the INDYCAR race in Sonoma, Calif. in 2007.
When did you start driving trucks?
JH: "Legally when I was able to - around 20 years old, but I drove trucks around for him when I was a teenager. That's how I learned how to drive a truck."
A treasured moment, Jeremy behind the wheel with his grandfather. He keeps this photo in his wallet.
And how did you end up on an INDYCAR team instead of a NASCAR team?
JH: "I was always interested but had no opportunities to go to any of the races because of where I lived but always had a huge interest in it and Formula One."
How did you come to work for AJ Foyt Racing?
JH: "I started here in June of last year. There was an opening and I left where I was at. I worked for Conquest Racing for quite a long time. We did CART and Champ Car a long time ago. But we eventually transitioned into sports car racing -- IMSA, Ferrari Challenge and the SRO Series. Before I worked there, I worked for Andretti for a couple of years. And I worked for Ganassi for a couple of years before that--that was the first team I worked for. I've been in motorsports for 23 years now."
What is your most memorable moment in motorsports?
JH: "Oh man. When I was with Andretti in 2007 when Dario won the 500 and the INDYCAR championship that year. That's one of them."
What's your most memorable moment on the road driving to or from an INDYCAR race?
JH: "Which one? There's so many, but as far as memorable, driving out west is beautiful. The mountains are just beautiful. The deserts are nice. There's a lot to see that a lot of people don't get to take in."
Where are the best places to eat on the road?
JH: "Not the truck stops! They always say that but not anymore. You're so limited to where you can stop in the truck. So if we're going out west, we stop at night and stay in hotels. The first priority is finding a good place to park the truck, a safe, secure place. Then you have to work around that. So sometimes you get lucky and you find that you're staying in a place that has great places to eat. It's hit or miss."
Do you get reactions from fellow motorists when they see the truck?
JH: "Yes - a lot of them will come up beside it and take pictures or blow the horn and they want you to blow the horn back and wave. The worst thing that they do is sit right beside the truck, sometimes at the very end of it. They'll sit there and look at the truck while we're both going down the road. That's the worst thing that they can do because it doesn't leave me any place to go if something happens."
What type of driver do you worry about most when you're on the road?
JH: "The ones that I trust the least are the ones that want to sit beside you. A lot of people do things besides driving. I can see a lot from my cab and people are not only texting, but you see people who have their phones mounted and they're watching movies! They've got their leg up while they're watching movies driving down the road. Yeah, it's scary. And it's only getting worse."
What do you worry most about when you're on the road?
JH: "My biggest fear is if something happens to the truck on the way to the track whether or there's something breaks down, or you blow a tire, we set the times that we leave the shop to give ourselves time to get there if something happens."
How much does the truck weigh with all that equipment on it?
JH: "We're up to 70,000 lbs. or so; we can carry up to 80,000 lbs. The trailer's 53 feet long but with the cab, the rig's 72 feet long."
Is parking them in the paddock inches from each other as hard as it looks?
JH: "It is if you've never done it before. You have to have the same people doing the same job every time to make it go fast and smooth. Same guy parks the truck, the same guy in front directing, the same guy behind you. It's teamwork."
So when you come to a new team, it takes a little time to adjust?
JH: "Well not every team parks them like that. Besides Ganassi, this is the second place that I've ever worked for that does this (parked inches apart, the trailers are connected by "bridges" at the side doors). I learned it at Ganassi but that was a long time ago so when I came here, it was a whole new learning process. We figured out a system so now, Jim Cahall is in front to guide me and then in the back it's normally somebody from INDYCAR, generally the same person."
How often does the vehicle get serviced?
JH: "Housby does most of the services on the tractors, but like the generators and stuff on the trailers, I do those myself at the shop. I try to do most of the work that needs to be done. But sometimes you're just limited by time so you have to have somebody come in. And you may need certain equipment that we don't have. But for the most part, if it's something I can do, and I have time, I do it."
What do you do during the race weekend?
JH: "After we park the trucks, we normally unload everything and set up the garages. But on a day-to-day basis, sometimes I help set up the pits as well. I'll give them a hand if they need it. But while they're setting up the pits, I'm back helping set up either the garage or whatever else just needs to be done back here. Once that's finished is when I start going to the trailers and cleaning everything. It's just a whole process just to make things look nice and tidy, square to the world."
What interests do you have outside of racing?
JH: "I cook a lot; I'm a great cook. I grill a lot. I spend a lot of time with my friends. They come over we hang out on the back porch. Spend time with my girlfriend Carrie. I cook a lot. I'm also a big Alabama football fan. I watch it on TV and try to get to a game or two every year."
What is your best recipe?
JH: "The best thing that I make on the grill are chicken wings. And non-grill? Probably chili -- it's good -- I make it with meat, beans, and macaroni. (Macaroni?) That came from my grandma. Actually, she put spaghetti noodles in her chili but I like the elbow noodles. I put it in raw because if you boil the noodles, they get mushy."
What surprised you most about the sport?
JH: "All the all the moving parts it takes to make everything happen and how much work there is and how much stuff there is that you have to have and all the things that come with that and all the things you have to maintain. There's all of this stuff and it's just evolved and things have gotten bigger. A lot bigger. It takes more stuff now to make it all happen."
What do you like most about working for AJ Foyt Racing?
JH: "The one thing I liked the most is that I work for A.J. Foyt. He's very authentic and there's something that feels like there's a tradition here. And I'm big on tradition, because I grew up in the South, and in the South they're really big on tradition. I'm a big fan of the Coyote logo too. That's what I liked the most about working here."
SANTINO FERRUCCI will be making his fourth start at Iowa Speedway after a two-season hiatus. His best start is 11th in 2020 and his best finish is 12th in 2019.
Q: Do you like racing at Iowa Speedway?
SF: “Yes. I think it’s one of the best dynamic racing tracks we go to. Most passes, most strategy,
multiple lines, you can really run wherever you want however you’d like to. It just kind of depends on your car and your balance and your strategy. It’s very fun. Normally it’s really fun when you have a good race car. It’s really difficult when your car is not well-balanced though. I know that for a fact because I’ve been there with a broken front wing. I did a whole race – the whole second race in 2020 was with a broken front wing – so we didn’t know because the flap had just been smashed and broken. I had contact at the start and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the balance and that was it. We never thought to change front wings.”
Q: You can go down a lap so quickly there, so does that put a premium on qualifying?
SF: “No. From what I remember when I qualified tweon my 2019 start, I was up to fifth in my first lap or second lap maybe, just running the second or third groove and just staying out of the way. So qualifying has an effect, but if you’re inside the top 15, I think you’re in much better shape.”
Q: What is the key to getting through the traffic?
SF: “The key in Iowa is you have to be able to run the first, second or third groove. Your car has to do it. Also you have to have a car that’s good on tire deg (degradation) because if you can’t make your pass in the first ten laps you do fall back a little bit to try and save your tires; you hope that the cars in front of you kill their tires. Then you can go run the second groove again and get around them.”
Ferrucci Fast Facts: Age 25...Born in Woodbury, CT...Lives in Dallas, Texas...Began racing karts at age 5, moved to cars in 2013...Competed in Formula 2000, British Formula 3, GP3 finishing third at Spa Francorchamps as a rookie, was development driver for Haas F1 team for three years (2016-2018), moved to Formula 2 in 2018...made his INDYCAR debut in Detroit in 2018...moved to NTT INDYCAR Series fulltime in 2019 finishing 13th in standings for Dale Coyne and won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after finishing seventh...13th in standings again with fourth place finish in the 500...drove part-time in 2021-22 but maintained top-10 streak in Indy 500 with finishes of sixth (RLL Racing) and 10th (Dreyer Reinbold Racing)...Scored best finish to date this year with his 3rd place finish in the Indianapolis 500...Competed part-time in NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021-22.
BENJAMIN PEDERSEN will be making his first start at Iowa Speedway in an Indy car but he has competed there last year in the INDY NXT Series by Firestone where he started and finished ninth. The doubleheader this weekend will be Pedersen's 11th and 12th starts in the NTT INDYCAR Series.
"I am really looking forward to Iowa Speedway, I love the track and I am a big fan of ovals in general.
We have had some great success on ovals so far this season, so I am ready to get back to them and see what we can do. It's a very bumpy track, so getting the car in the right window and getting the dampers to work well is extremely important to being successful there. It's a double-header event, so there is a lot to offer within the weekend in terms of results, so I am looking forward to what we can accomplish in the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet."
Pedersen Fast Facts: Age 24...Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, moved to Seattle at age 4 and is now living in Indianapolis...Began racing karts at a young age and has competed and won races in the INDY NXT by Firestone Series, British Formula 3, FR Americas Championship, F4 US Championship...Earned Rookie of the Year award in the Indianapolis 500 after setting a record for the fastest qualifying lap by a rookie (233.297mph). Enjoys golf, pickleball, skiing, soccer, snowmobiling, mountain biking, dirt biking.
Legends of Racing: A.J. Foyt, a one-hour documentary that chronicles Foyt's career through rare archival footage and interviews along with more recent interviews with Foyt, the late Robin Miller, A.J.'s son Larry Foyt, Tony Stewart, historian Pat Sullivan and USAC Media Director Richie Murray among others. Legends of Racing: A.J. Foyt is available to watch for free on FloRacing through the FloSports app and online at https://www.floracing.com/video/11141507-legends-of-racing-aj-foyt?utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_source=twitter&utm_term=thumbnail.legendsofracingajfoyt&utm_content=video&utm_campaign=films.
Foyt watched it online and commented, "I thought it was a pretty good film. I like that they covered my whole life, from the early part on. There was some stuff that I hadn't seen before. I'll tell you what, that lion knocked me to the ground harder than any race car did!"
Past Performance: AJ Foyt Racing's best start at Iowa Speedway is 13th with Takuma Sato in 2016. Its best finish is fifth in 2007 with Darren Manning. Ferrucci's best start is 11th in 2020 and his best finish is 12th in 2019. Pedersen is making his first start in an Indy car; in his only INDY NXT Series by Firestone start, he qualified ninth and finished ninth.
Last Race: At Toronto, Benjamin Pedersen was struck from behind in a first lap first turn chain reaction multi-car crash and was eliminated with a damaged gear selection mechanism. Santino Ferrucci was also a victim but he was able to restart the race although a lap down. His car was damaged but he managed to finish 17th.
The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 will be broadcast on NBC Saturday starting at 3 p.m. ET. On Sunday, the Hy-Vee One Step 250 will be broadcast on NBC starting at 2 p.m. ET. Practice and qualifying as well as the races will be streamed live on Peacock and indycarlive.com.