Corvette Racing’s Ryan Briscoe join’s RACER’s columnists with this report on his exploits for Corvette as well as his last-minute call-up for the Indianapolis 500.
Talk about a whirlwind month of May! Things seemed pretty straightforward at the start of the month; they’ve been anything but that so far.
Before the last couple weeks, my focus and attention had been 100 percent on Le Mans. I’d been pursuing some avenues for the Indy 500 but nothing really worked out. We tested a couple weeks ago at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, which was awesome. It was great to get back in the Corvette and get back up to speed as I hadn’t driven it since Sebring. All six of our Le Mans drivers were there. We were all able to hang out and more importantly get through a good test program.
From that point, I had planned to head home, spend a couple weeks with Nicole and Fin, and get ready for the Test Day. I was watching IndyCar practice and saw Hinch’s terrible accident. After that, the phone started ringing and one of the calls was from Sam Schmidt to see if I’d be interested in filling in. It was definitely a pretty crazy week. It’s not the way you want to enter the Indy 500. Nevertheless, I showed up at Indy the next Wednesday to meet the team, get fitted into the car and into the suit and all the rest of it. It was pretty nerve-wracking. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new aero kits.
After Carb Day practice, I felt really confident that I had a good car under me going into the race. I felt like a did a good job running in traffic, so I knew I was going to be able to move up through the grid and could make my way to the front. Overall it was pretty good. I enjoyed getting to catch up with all my pals from the IndyCar paddock.
Now it’s back to Le Mans! I don’t really know what to expect going there as a Corvette Racing driver. I went there two years ago and had a good experience. I got to understand how race week works, how scrutineering and all the procedures work, and get a feel for the atmosphere of the event.
What I found cool during my last time at Le Mans is that there were people all over who knew me from racing in Europe before I came to the U.S. It’s really nice. The fans there are so knowledgeable. They knew what I had done before in Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 1. I don’t really get that a lot in the U.S. It’s really nice to get to talk to and know those fans who watched me back in the day.
From what I’m hearing, it’s a totally different experience going there with Corvette Racing. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I’ve heard the drivers may get a little spoiled and pampered; we get to stay in the circuit at our paddock hospitality. It sounds really phenomenal! It sounds like Corvette has a huge following there. The Europeans don’t get that big American V8 muscle much, so the fans there just gravitate toward it.
I’ll check back in with everyone with some thoughts on the Test Day and how life at Le Mans is with Corvette. Wish us luck!